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FTC Recruiting Identity Theft Victims

samzenpus posted more than 6 years ago | from the study-while-they-steal dept.

The Internet 48

coondoggie writes "In an effort to buttress its enforcement and better understand the scourge that is identity theft, the Federal Trade Commission said today its plans to conduct a wide-ranging study of victims of the crime. The FTC is looking for people harmed by the crime and said the survey will examine the remedies available to victims under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACT Act). Among other things, the FACT Act gave consumers the right to place fraud alerts on their credit files if they are, or suspect they may become, victims of identity theft; block information on their credit reports that resulted from identity theft; and obtain copies of their credit reports free of charge."

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Just got a phone call from the FTC (5, Funny)

HermDog (24570) | more than 6 years ago | (#24037817)

They asked me for my social security number and date of birth to verify I was the person they meant to call and told me they'd be getting back to me real soon.

Re:Just got a phone call from the FTC (1)

Toandeaf (1014715) | more than 6 years ago | (#24038783)

My god, a first post that is on topic and actually humorous? What's next, a first post that RTFA?

Re:Just got a phone call from the FTC (1)

story645 (1278106) | more than 6 years ago | (#24039721)

Might break slashdot.

Even stranger is that the headline/post actually does a good job of summing up the article.

To stay on topic, the article points out that a people are sloppy about their security, so a respondent could plausibly provide the kind of info the grandparent jokes about the FTC asking for.

Shred (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24037827)

Shred and don't be stupid. Blockbuster does not need your SSN.

Blockbuster does not need your SSN (2, Insightful)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#24038031)

I once went to Blockbuster to see what I needed to do to rent a movie and was handed this form that looked like a loan application. I handed it back saying they didn't need all that information. All they need is to know if I can pay.

Falcon

Re:Blockbuster does not need your SSN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24038367)

And I bet you didn't walk out with a movie either, did you?

Re:Blockbuster does not need your SSN (2, Interesting)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 6 years ago | (#24038835)

I once went to Blockbuster to see what I needed to do to rent a movie and was handed this form that looked like a loan application.
Hollywood Video is even worse. I went to Hollywood video when Blockbuster didn't have the movie I wanted, and they wanted an automobile registration!
Thankfully now we have Redbox [slashdot.org] . Just don't pick up movies at McDonalds.

Re:Blockbuster does not need your SSN (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#24052505)

Hollywood Video is even worse. I went to Hollywood video when Blockbuster didn't have the movie I wanted, and they wanted an automobile registration!

I never tried Hollywood. Blockbuster is bad enough, if other movies rental stores are worse that's terrible. And people wonder why I buy movies instead of renting them, I admit though I usually watch a movie more than once.

Falcon

Re:Blockbuster does not need your SSN (2, Funny)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 6 years ago | (#24039289)

Falcon

And then you punched them, right?

Re:Blockbuster does not need your SSN (3, Funny)

L0stm4n (322418) | more than 6 years ago | (#24039475)

Funny, mininova never asked for any of that. No late fees either :)

Re:Blockbuster does not need your SSN (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 6 years ago | (#24039869)

I actually filled it out, all except for the phone part because although I live 200 yards away, I had no phone at the time. They said we can't rent to you without a phone. I said fine and reached for my application. they said uh, we can't let you have that. I thought about asking why, thought better of it, and said "bullshit" loudly, grabbed it, ripped it up, and stuck it in my pocket for later disposal.

The next day I discovered this thing called eDonkey and looked for an open source version of it. Good jorb rental doofus.

Re:Shred (1)

b0bby (201198) | more than 6 years ago | (#24042601)

My ID was stolen from University records. For real ID thieves, sources like that are much easier & more comprehensive than what you'd get by digging through the recycling bin, plus you can get a bunch at once. Shredding's not a bad idea, but what you're throwing out is really the least of your worries.

Re:Shred (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 6 years ago | (#24059945)

Your identity can never be stolen. What is happening is that lazy people are failing to ensure the validity of the credentials they are being supplied. These same people are they illegally attempting to charge an innocent party for the blunder they made when they accepted the false credentials.

Want to kerb identity theft then start applying some hefty penalties when companies accept false identification and increase the severity of the penalties for the level of risk ie. video store accepts false id low fine, bank accepts false id major fine.

The whole yarn of identity theft is all about pushing the problem back onto the end user and making them suffer with the consequences and keeping greedy corporations free of the legal, moral and fiscal responsibility for their mistakes and their subsequent criminal actions in attempting to force innocent parties into paying for it.

*phone rings* (4, Funny)

rabiddeity (941737) | more than 6 years ago | (#24037899)

Recruiting, eh? I can imagine the phone calls going something like this:

"Hi, Mr. Phillips, I'm from the FTC, and we've heard that you've recently been the victim of identity theft."
"Yes, yes that's true!"
"To verify that the study is accurate, could I have your date of birth please?"
"Sure, it's September 17th, 1964."
"I have the first digit of your SSN as '6', is that correct?"
"Yes."
"Could you read off the rest of it for me?"

This is unprecedented! (1)

Zadaz (950521) | more than 6 years ago | (#24037903)

A government agency applying some scientific method the the efficacy of law?

Just the concept blows me away.

Re:This is unprecedented! (1)

story645 (1278106) | more than 6 years ago | (#24039767)

Before you get too excited, the law is 5 years old and known to be ineffective—probably thought it was good for PR or something.

Re: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24037979)

Victims are required to provide their mother's maiden name, credit card and social insurance number.

Lumping too much stuff together (4, Insightful)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 6 years ago | (#24038001)

As long as the FBI is mandating that credit card fraud is "identity theft" there will never be any sort of accurate numbers as to real, honest-to-goodness identity theft. Today, every time someone uses your credit card number on an online site and the charge is really submitted, this is considered "identity theft".

The truth is that use of SSNs and fraudulently applying for loans and such is incredibly rare. It is so rare as to almost not be a problem - except the folks at Life Lock and others do not want you to find this out. They want to get their money from you for protecting you from something that almost never happens.

Almost everyone I know has been a "victim" of credit card fraud. Only problem was, they weren't really the victim. The merchant was. I've never heard of anyone actually losing anything because of credit card fraud. Now, if you use a debit card instead of a credit card you are asking for trouble because you will lose with those. No, I don't know anyone that has lost money - probably because they had more sense than to use a debit card for purchases.

Re:Lumping too much stuff together (3, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 6 years ago | (#24038077)

That's not entirely accurate, I had my information stolen from those incompetent jackasses at TD Ameritrade. And as far as I know none of my actual SSN, credit car or bank info was stolen, but I do get pre-filled out spam for prescriptions. And as a result it opens me up to other problems as well.

It's incredibly unsettling and IMHO I ought to be given the option to put a free freeze on my account whether it's overkill or not.

I don't apply for many credit cards and rarely is there a valid reason why anybody should be checking my credit at all. As far as I'm concerned they shouldn't ever be allowed to check it without notifying me and getting an OK.

Really the biggest thing would be forcing the banks and institutions that don't follow appropriate procedures to pay whether or not it's really their fault in the matter. Places like Starbucks that don't consistently require signing for charges are pretty mortifying places to use a card.

Re:Lumping too much stuff together (2, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#24038133)

What is it you think a signature adds to the transaction?

Re:Lumping too much stuff together (3, Funny)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 6 years ago | (#24038503)

Not [zug.com] Much [zug.com] .

Re:Lumping too much stuff together (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24038097)

I personally know someone who was fully ID-thefted. His wallet was stolen while on a business trip. The thief used the driver's license and credit cards to open new accounts. It took years to get that crap off his credit report.

Re:Lumping too much stuff together (2, Informative)

dargaud (518470) | more than 6 years ago | (#24041453)

I've never heard of anyone actually losing anything because of credit card fraud

Well, try to remember my name then. Happened while on long vacation. Noticed the charge 45 days later when looking at empty bank account. CC company pointed at policy: "you must notify us within 30 days". Raised a stink with police report and all. CC company eventually paid back 2% of total because the thieves had managed to withdraw even more than credit limit allowed. Sat down and cried.

and obtain copies of their credit reports free (5, Insightful)

JohnnyGTO (102952) | more than 6 years ago | (#24038201)

Ha what a joke! Ever since doing the "free credit report" I've been getting spammed by trans union offering their pay for service. Frankly it's MY life, MY history and MY credit data why the #&$%@#%& should I have to pay them at ALL to correct their constant screw ups? They are making money selling it they should be forced to pay ME to use it.

THEY SHOULD ALSO BE 100% LIABLE WHEN IT IS ABUSED!!!!! Credit reporting agencies are the source of the problem and the enablers of credit fraud.

Re:and obtain copies of their credit reports free (5, Informative)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 6 years ago | (#24038411)

That is why you should actually use Annual credit report [annualcreditreport.com] - it's non-profit and put up by the credit companies themselves - they just don't advertise it. Although, when you visit the companies to get your credit reports, they still try to get you to buy credit protection... but in the end it's still free and you don't have to sign up for anything.

Re:and obtain copies of their credit reports free (2, Funny)

JohnnyGTO (102952) | more than 6 years ago | (#24038717)

this was were Trans Union got my info for the spam.

Re:and obtain copies of their credit reports free (2, Interesting)

L0stm4n (322418) | more than 6 years ago | (#24039431)

I can attest to this. I did my free annual credit report a few months ago. I've been getting spammed like hell hell from transunion. Granted I might have missed a checkbox or something, I don't really remember, but I get at least 2 emails a week from them. My wife did the same, and got the same.

So really just to access information that severely affects my life, I get spammed to high heaven.

Re:and obtain copies of their credit reports free (1)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 6 years ago | (#24039641)

I don't remember ever giving them my email, but if I did I'm sure it was my i-never-check-it-and-only-use-it-for-online-registrations account. Hell, what would they need your email for when you're just viewing your report anyway?

Re:and obtain copies of their credit reports free (1)

Valar (167606) | more than 6 years ago | (#24042491)

So log in to TU and uncheck the contact by email check boxes. They give you a way to opt out of this up front and later too.

Bullshit (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 6 years ago | (#24049365)

They're only doing that because Congress forced them to.

One free credit report per year, per credit bureau.

These sharks are only doing it because the feds have a gun to their heads.

Anyone who thinks they are doing you a favor here is seriously deluded.

Re:and obtain copies of their credit reports free (1)

BradleyAndersen (1195415) | more than 6 years ago | (#24043653)

The "free" credit reports don't seem to come with the "most important" part ... the score. That usually runs about $10 per score, from each of three agencies.

My identity was stolen. (4, Funny)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#24038305)

Now I don't know who I am, or why I have several fake ID's in my posession. I don't know why I am efficient in killing heavily trained soldiers with my bare hands. I only know one thing: My name is Jason Bourne.

Re:My identity was stolen. (3, Funny)

Xyrus (755017) | more than 6 years ago | (#24038893)

Most don't know who I am, or why I have so many "aliases". I don't know why I am efficient at killing heavily embedded bugs in thousands of lines of code. I only know one thing: My name is Stephen Bourne.

~X~

Re:My identity was stolen. (2, Funny)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#24040329)

My name is Jason Bourne.

I've always thought that there should be a book in that series called Bourne Again, so that the protagonist would have the excuse to bash anybody he wanted.

WTF? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24038307)

I tried volunteering for this
But they said I had already signed up yesterday.

Dear Honorable Sir/Madam (1)

La Camiseta (59684) | more than 6 years ago | (#24038319)

Let me introduce myself. I am Professor Mugabawabe from the Country of Nigeria.

I have been contracted to the American Federal Trade Comission for the express purpose of researching identity theft victims and possibly to assist them in recovering potentially MILLIONS in punitive damages.

In order to perform my research I ask that you send me the following information:

* Full Name
* Address of domicile
* Social Security Number (completely secure - will be compared against our records)
* Date of Birth

For statistical purposes, we ask for the following:

* Average household income
* Method of employ

Thank you for your time in this matter. If you haven't been a victim of identity theft but know of someone who has, please forward this on to them.

Sincerely,
Dr. Mugabawabe

My identity theft story from this week (5, Interesting)

Layth (1090489) | more than 6 years ago | (#24038463)

These people have some balls, it's actually kind of funny.

They sent me a letter in the mail pretending to be my bank, saying there are suspicious charges and to call this fraud number. Had the right mailing address and all of the logo's..etc

Of course the number was a phishing scam! They were asking me security questions to verify I was the cardholder, and little did I know my card was already maxed out 4 days ago. I'm guessing they wanted to reuse my information to call my bank and request the credit limit to be increased so they could keep on spending.

Fortunately my bullshit detector went off and I hung up, cross referenced the number..etc which confirmed my suspicions. I called the actual fraud line about 30 seconds later to take care of my slip up, and that's when I found out about all of the other charges. The BS part about it all is that none of the charges ever showed up on my online transaction history, so even if I were checking that by the hour I never would have been tipped off.

Anyway these guys can be pretty sneaky, but I was really disappointed in Chase for not having the transactions posted. At least I'm told that I won't have to pay any of the fees.

Good idea (1)

HalAtWork (926717) | more than 6 years ago | (#24038533)

In fact, why not extend this idea. Why not have mandatory oversight of all new laws and amendments for the first 2 years of enactment to see if they actually help or hinder their original intent?

Re:Good idea (1)

phagstrom (451510) | more than 6 years ago | (#24040969)

Are you insane? If that was ever done, all laws would have to make sense. Think of all the incompetent people who would have to leave office and all the lawyers who would be out of a job? It would ruin the economy. Let's never go there again!

I can attest to one major flaw in our system. (4, Interesting)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 6 years ago | (#24039025)

In the past, I have conducted background investigations for the DoD as a contractor. I came across some very interesting credit histories on a guy and had to ask him some questions. I cannot go into details but, simply put:

When he was too young to work, someone began working under his name and SSN. He did not discover this until he was in his late teens. When he contacted the IRS, the IRS was concerned, but they MADE TWO SEPARATE ACCOUNTS UNDER THE SAME SSN TO DISTINGUISH THE TWO.

This was quite alarming to me, though it satisfied my goals in the investigation. I could not understand how the IRS would take such a haphazard approach to dealing with identity theft. How can they continue to allow a person to work, obviously illegally, under a stolen identity? Yes, I know the IRS merely collects taxes, but they were collecting from a stolen identity long after they were made aware.
--------------------
From this, the flaw is lack of governmental intercooperation regarding identity theft. I cannot attest to present time, but in 2005, the IRS was still allowing the thief to work and pay taxes.

The employer (pretty big company) and location were well known, yet the 'thief' was not stopped over several years. ........ I can only hope our various branches are now working together to protect our citizens first.

Re:I can attest to one major flaw in our system. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24039359)

This happens all the time in the Tex-Mex border. Many Mexican citizens have SSN numbers because they are legal residents. Sometimes they will lend out their SSNs to illegals. Well the illegals then work and pay into their original guy's Social Security. Then when it's retirement age they collect Social Security checks without having to have put in all that work. There's a small cottage market of delivery boxes set up just for collecting SS checks on the border. Pretty sweet deal.

Re:I can attest to one major flaw in our system. (1)

shipbrick (929823) | more than 6 years ago | (#24039859)

Awesome. now I have a life goal.
1)Give ss# away at the border to illegals
2)be a bum till age 65?
3)?????
4)Profit

Re:I can attest to one major flaw in our system. (1)

b0bby (201198) | more than 6 years ago | (#24042729)

I remember having to testify in court one day. I was still in my late teens. The prosecutor was running through how things worked, and ran my SSN. It came back with a bunch of info on a tattooed convict; she laughed & said it's pretty standard for cons going into jail to alter their SSN by a few digits. It's never come up again, so maybe they figured it out or made two accounts. Or maybe the guy was a lifer & hasn't worked since...

Re:I can attest to one major flaw in our system. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24044899)

I can not agree with you more on this. I have handled identity theft issues for a family member, and its usually the same thing, someone using their ssn for employment, with well known companies and also opening bank accounts and even going to the doctor. I always wondered, why not send a police officer over to the place where they are employed and just have a talk with them, see if thats the correct person. Most of the time, we have to contact the sheriffs station and file police report, and when we ask about why they don't fully investigate, we get the same answer, they are probably long gone and don't work there any more... WTF! This was two days ago, and we contacted the business and was able to get confirmation that person is still employed.

I think this survey wont do sh*t for helping anybody out, what needs to be done is to have a task force that will actually start tracking down this people, specially for those that use the same stolen information repeatedly.

and obtain copies of their credit reports free (1)

clint999 (1277046) | more than 6 years ago | (#24039757)

Now I don't know who I am, or why I have several fake ID's in my posession. I don't know why I am efficient in killing heavily trained soldiers with my bare hands. I only know one thing: My name is Jason Bourne.

What about those harmed by the credit system? (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 6 years ago | (#24039907)

What about the in-quotes "identity theft" victims? Like a friend of mine. She had a hold placed on her account and was turned down for a car loan because someone had asked for credit in her name, with her SSN and address and other info. So the identity monopoly ( or is it really 3 separate companies?) decided to block all access without telling her.

All to put the story back in order, she got denied and inquired as to why, and that was the reason the lender gave. Took her 2 years to straighten out. Here's the kicker - the identity thief was identified, rather easily actually ad it was actually herself. When applying for something or other else, someone changed her newly re-maidened name back to her previous married name on the application, to "correct" a mistake. It went through fine at the time, but everything thereafter sent up warning flags.

I think that shows more problems with identity systems than actual theft does, in the same way that a fever shows more problems than an actual infection does.

Better than the headline I thought it was: (1)

syrinje (781614) | more than 6 years ago | (#24040949)

"FTC Rounding up Identity theft victims"

security theater or complete fake (1)

rootpassbird (1276000) | more than 6 years ago | (#24046903)

intentions, motivations yet unknown, but observation correct.

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