True Stories of Identity Theft

It seems like every month a new case of computer hacking involving thieves breaching a company's computer network and stealing millions of credit card numbers, social security numbers and other sensitive personal information.  But threats from professional thieves is not the only way you can become a victim of identity theft.  There are so many low level (and low paid) clerks in government offices, hospitals, banks, credit unions, retail outlets, and the list goes on and on, who have access to your personal information.  Some of them sell this information to professional identity thieves and others use the information themselves.  Below are just a few of the millions of identity theft cases to give you an example of how your information can fall in to the hands of thieves.

In February 2005, a company started by one of the three major credit bureaus, has a database filled with the personal information of millions of Americans, which they sell to third parties.  Because they did not do a thorough enough background check on one particular company who applied for and obtained access to their database, the credit histories of millions of Americans were compromised, many of whom were subsequently victimized when their credit identities were used to obtain financing by a gang of Nigerian thieves posing as a legitimate company.  When they first discovered their mistake, they had no intention of telling any of the millions of consumers who had their personal information stolen until the story was featured prominently in the national media.

Hackers broke in to Ford Motor Company's database containing the credit records of all of its customers.  Ford advised its customers to monitor their credit reports very closely for unauthorized activity.  Hundreds of companies, like Ford, have become the victims of hackers.

An IRS agent used the IRS database to locate the social security number of a stranger with good credit.  She used a person's social security number to obtain three credit cards and a car lease in that person's name.  Since the IRS agent paid the bills on time, the victim had no idea fraudulent accounts had been opened in her name until she pulled her credit report one day and discovered them.
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And finally, here are three true examples of how company employees can steal your information:  (1) A low level clerk working in a large credit card company who had access to millions of customers' accounts stole the personal information of hundreds of customers and sold it to a gang of professional identity thieves. (2) A bank clerk stole the personal information of an affluent customer and used it to open credit accounts in her name; and (3) A medical billing clerk working in a hospital and who had access to thousands of patients' medical records sold patients' personal information to third parties who used these identities to obtain auto loans and credit cards.

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