Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Identity Theft

A person very close to me learned last night that she is the victim of identity theft. She received a letter from Chase about her recent address change, and that if the information was incorrect to notify Chase immediately.

She's lived at the same address for 15 years, and hadn't notified Chase of any change. After a call to Chase, she learned that someone went online and changed her address to a Brooklyn one, and changed her online login and password. Then they proceeded to launder her money through PayPal at the rate of $6000 every other day. So far, we know of $36,000 taken. Fortunately, accounts are insured up to $100,000. Still, it's a pain in the neck to straighten everything out.

I checked out the Brooklyn address and found that it was a fake one.

Meanwhile, she's closing all her accounts at Chase, and I'm quickly coming to the conclusion that online banking is unsafe. As a private investigator I know that it's easy to get someone's Social Security Number, mother's maiden name, address, phone number, and any other info a thief would need to steal your identity.

I think to be safe, you should have the bank flag your account with a notice that says that you have to go to the bank in person to change anything on the account.

To learn more about protecting yourself against identity theft, go to the Federal Trade Commission's web site at www.consumer.gov/idtheft.

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