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Protect Yourself, Your Family, Your Identity
June 1, 2009 11:42 AM   Subscribe

The commercials are all over television — and they certainly are attention-grabbing. They’re the ones where the heavy, bald guy is sitting in his easy chair talking in a squeaky female voice about all the clothes he bought — including a bustier. Or the little old lady speaking with the gruff voice of a younger man about the sweet motorcycle she now owned. Identity theft is a serious crime — one that is occurring with an alarming frequency. The Identity Theft Manifesto explains how criminals get your personal info, and what you can do about it.
posted by netbros (15 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Are they still showing those commercials? I haven't seen one in a year or so.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:46 AM on June 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I hope that whoever steals my identity does a better job with it than I have.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:54 AM on June 1, 2009 [9 favorites]


I firmly believe that one of the major factors in the rise of identity theft is calling too many things "identity theft." One of the examples listed on the Manifesto's intro page is just ridiculous:
When various people who picked up their mail at a U.S. post office threw away merchandise catalogs, which contained identifying information such as their names and account numbers, a woman went through the trash, removed the catalogs, and used the identifying information to order merchandise in other people’s names.
If someone steals your credit card number and uses it to make a purchase, that's credit card fraud, not identity theft. If someone intercepts a box of your checks and uses them to buy groceries, that's check fraud, not identity theft. Using someone else's credit history to take out a loan, to buy a house or a car or somesuch--OK, that's getting in the correct territory. Otherwise, it's useless hype that just makes my mom afraid to use Amazon.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:03 PM on June 1, 2009 [10 favorites]


If someone steals your credit card number and uses it to make a purchase, that's credit card fraud, not identity theft. If someone intercepts a box of your checks and uses them to buy groceries, that's check fraud, not identity theft.

Why is it useful to separate these "two" crimes? Especially for the victim, it amounts to the same thing. Someone pretended to be you and bought stuff in your name.
posted by DU at 12:21 PM on June 1, 2009


The separation is useful because remediation is completely different. I've gotten reports, via my credit agency, that my credit card number was dispersed via a successful hack. Solution: new credit card number. It's practically an automatic procedure now.

Actual identity theft is much, much worse. Let us say that you're someone whose *ahem* unscrupulous father thinks it's a bright idea, whenever he gets a traffic ticket (which is to say, more than once) to use your identity. And do this through an arrest or two. That's a whole different ballgame, because you must spend ages navigating the legal system untangling what has been tangled.

When your identity is stolen, rather than getting a credit card number, whole new credit cards may be taken out in your name. Titles can be transferred. It's a wholly different level.
posted by adipocere at 12:29 PM on June 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I had my identity stolen in 2003. Someone made up a fake ID with my name and his photo and took out various types of loans. When I went to the police I couldn't get them to even write up a report. I was not a victim, I was told. The victim was the institutions who were defrauded. It was very frustrating.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:29 PM on June 1, 2009


Its free(in most states) to freeze your credit. If someone did get a hold of your SSN#, they couldn't open new accounts...
http://www.experian.com/freeze/
https://www.freeze.equifax.com
https://annualcreditreport.transunion.com/fa/securityFreeze/landing
posted by tomas316 at 12:30 PM on June 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do people actually carry their SS cards around with them? I haven't even had a card for over 40 years, and have never once been asked for it. It's not that hard to memorize the number, and that's all you'll ever need. So burn those SS cards, and "vu-a-la!" (as the article says) you've eliminated one thing that shouldn't fall into the wrong hands.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:18 PM on June 1, 2009


Judge Rules LifeLock’s Fraud Alert Service Illegal
posted by homunculus at 1:51 PM on June 1, 2009


They’re the ones where the heavy, bald guy is sitting in his easy chair talking in a squeaky female voice about all the clothes he bought — including a bustier.

For a moment I thought you were talking about this classic Python sketch.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:22 PM on June 1, 2009


You need a SS card to get your drivers permit and I think passport. I never knew I had a card until I turned 14 and had to turn the house upside down searching for it.
posted by rubah at 5:11 PM on June 1, 2009


My favorite one of the series. The Best Prom Ever.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:16 PM on June 1, 2009


The separation is useful because remediation is completely different.

And what better way to get the remediation normalized than to put these extremely similar crimes on an equal footing by categorizing them the same?
posted by DU at 6:29 PM on June 1, 2009


Because creating a category for two things and putting both things in that category in no way actually changes the process by which you must fix them, the damages done, etc? The map is not the territory.

The crimes are not extremely similar. One is a brick. The other is a house. Identity theft consists of numerous little bitty frauds tied together at the point of You, but they are otherwise disparate. Yes, the house contains bricks. It's also got mortar, wiring, etc.

Credit card fraud: the issuer gives you your money back (or just changes some numbers in their computer) and issues you a new number. It's a single entity problem. Maybe two, if they pass it on to the cops.

Identity theft: Potentially very high numbers of entities with whom you must interact. No centralized solution. Entities do not have a single system in place. No standardized system for transactions between them.

Imagine if your wallet is stolen. Well, you have to report your credit cards, one by one. The credit card companies don't have a meeting to discuss your wallet theft, nor do they take pains to inform one another (at least, not without some weird tertiary channels). Now imagine if the people who stole your identity took out whole new credit cards you don't even know about. And sold the title to your car. And got arrested. These things are not connected, so this is a much, much more complex situation. People can spend years fixing identity theft, and there's no currently existing mechanism in place to make it as easy as fixing up a little credit card fraud.

Not until some Orwellian system maintaining all information about you is available will the second problem be as simple to remedy as the first.
posted by adipocere at 7:44 PM on June 1, 2009


You need a SS card to get your drivers permit and I think passport.

I don't remember whether I had to show the SS card when I got my driver's license (or even if I had a card yet then), but I definitely did not when I applied for a passport. The DL thing is probably different from one state to another.

The SS card is not any kind of ID - there's no picture or anything on it. It would be stupid to require that a person show one. The one I had years ago was just a thick piece of paper, and if I had to, I could recreate it in a few minutes. If I'm not mistaken, my six-year-old's card is the same. (I never have to show hers, either.)
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:11 AM on June 2, 2009


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