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Identity Theft Skeptic Ends Up As Fraud Victim

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the eyes-like-paul-mccartney dept.

Privacy 388

An anonymous reader writes "British TV host Jeremy Clarkson recently wrote a newspaper editorial ridiculing the uproar that had occurred after the British government admitted to losing two compact discs containing the personal information on 25 million people. To support his claim about the overhyped risks of identity theft, he published his bank account information in the article. Proving that some identity thieves have a sense of humor, a week later, he found out that someone had set up an automatic bank transfer for $1000 to a diabetes charity from his account. This comes less than a year after the CEO of LifeLock, an identity theft protection company which publishes the CEO's social security number on its website, himself was a victim of financial fraud. Back in July of 2007, a man in Texas was able to secure a $500 loan from a payday loan company using the CEO's widely publicized SSN. Will this latest incident finally prove that identity theft is real, and that publishing your own financial info is an invitation for fraud?"

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Poetic justice (4, Funny)

nullCRC (320940) | more than 6 years ago | (#21988946)

Plain and simple.

Re:Poetic justice (5, Funny)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989030)

I like the scam they pulled, but to be truly poetic, the bank transfer should have gone to Friends of the Earth. Anyone who knows of Clarkson will understand.

Re:Poetic justice (2, Funny)

modecx (130548) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989308)

I like the scam they pulled, but to be truly poetic, the bank transfer should have gone to Friends of the Earth. Anyone who knows of Clarkson will understand.

Hahah, no kidding!

Re:Poetic justice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21989410)

Any explanation for those of us across the Atlantic from all things Limey?

Re:Poetic justice (5, Informative)

blorg (726186) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989606)

Any explanation for those of us across the Atlantic from all things Limey?
Clarkson [wikipedia.org] presents Top Gear, a very popular BBC motoring show, and is well known for his skepticism of all things hippie or environmental.

You may appreciate his views on America [wikipedia.org] (choice quote 'when being chased by a gang of rednecks': "I honestly believe that in certain parts of America now, people have started to mate with vegetables.")

Re:Poetic justice (1)

andreamer (937648) | more than 6 years ago | (#21990018)

Thanks, and what might explain why they picked a charity for diabetes?

Re:Poetic justice (1)

bchernicoff (788760) | more than 6 years ago | (#21990088)

The key words there are "certain parts". Have you ever been to those parts of the country? He's probably right. I say this as someone born and raised in Oklahoma and who has spent some time in Biloxi, Miss.

Re:Poetic justice (4, Funny)

cHiphead (17854) | more than 6 years ago | (#21990124)

That sumbitch bettar stay outta our Amer'ca or we'll kick his r'mainin good teeth owt!

I bet he's a terrist too!

Re:Poetic justice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21990144)

How can you not have heard of Jeremy Clarkson????!!!!! What part of the country do you come from?

Oh, I see - you must be a foreigner.

They didn't have a lot of choices... (5, Informative)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989642)

In the UK you can only set up a direct debit to certain registered things, one of them being charities.

The pranksters couldn't have set up direct debit to their own account, for example.

Re:They didn't have a lot of choices... (3, Interesting)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989882)

This guy is a jackass.

"I opened my bank statement this morning to find out that someone has set up a direct debit which automatically takes £500 from my account," he said. "The bank cannot find out who did this because of the Data Protection Act and they cannot stop it from happening again.

Admitting the error of his previous article dismissing identity theft concerns, he wrote that, "I was wrong and I have been punished for my mistake." The incident seems to have changed his opinion about the risks to which the 25 million Brits have been exposed. "Contrary to what I said at the time, we must go after the idiots who lost the discs and stick cocktail sticks in their eyes until they beg for mercy."


So, does that mean that every charity and bank out there who has to deal with administrative headaches because he gave his information away should get to poke sticks in his eyes?

Re:Poetic justice (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989312)

I'd like to call it "Top Gear" justice!

Schadenfreude (4, Funny)

Dr Caleb (121505) | more than 6 years ago | (#21988966)

Clarkson, you ponce!

And learn what a pickup truck is designed for, would ya?

Re:Schadenfreude (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21989082)

They were DESIGNED to carry a small bag of £11 firelighters in little metal pots so you don't get the paraffin smell on your hands, ya maroon! (F-series)
Or to be put on top of a building being demolished (hilux)
Or to have an incredibly large outboard motor attached to the back and get capsize on a reservoir (another hilux, which he broke!)
Or to be driven to the north pole. (modified hilux)

What did you think they were designed for?

Re:Schadenfreude (1)

jx100 (453615) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989124)

I thought they were to be driven to Sangatte. (Nissan.. Hardbody?)

Re:Schadenfreude (2, Funny)

Thansal (999464) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989484)

What is that, some kind of Nazi word?

Re:Schadenfreude (1)

Thansal (999464) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989978)

bah, people need to watch Ave Q more. (ok, so I knew I was gona get modded troll, but it was still worth it :P)

Bwahahahahaha! (5, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#21988972)

In the immortal words of Bugs Bunny: "What a maroon!"

Re:Bwahahahahaha! (5, Funny)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989182)

From the other guy's perspective:
In the immortal words of Bugs Bunny: "Ain't I a stinker?"

If you give it away (3, Insightful)

Bongo Bill (853669) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989000)

If you give personal information away freely, is it really accurate to call taking it theft?

Of course, what defrauders do with it might constitute stealing. But that's less "identity theft" and more "money theft" if you ask me.

Re:If you give it away (4, Insightful)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989154)

Well, giving away the information for free doesn't make it a crime for you to possess the information. If you then use it, claiming you are a person you are not, that's fraud and illegal in most jurisdictions.

Re:If you give it away (1, Offtopic)

smilindog2000 (907665) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989486)

I notice that few of us here offer any real personal information... my e-mail is bill@billrocks.org, and if you bother to reply to a challenge e-mail, I'll read whatever you have to say. Put financial information on-line? Hell no. That'd be plain stupid.

Re:If you give it away (5, Insightful)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989540)

If you then use it, claiming you are a person you are not, that's fraud and illegal in most jurisdictions.
And any bank and its imbecile staff that allows you to pretend to be someone you aren't because they can't be arsed to properly check[1] should be liable for the loss themselves.

Before anyone claims that giving his bank account number out was irresponsible - it's printed on the bottom of your cheques.

[1] Even if more than one person can have the same name, it should be easier than normal in this case.

Re:If you give it away (4, Insightful)

Jhon (241832) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989210)

When I freely publish my business name and address in the phonebook, is it really accurate to call it theft when someone breaks in to my store and steals my stuff? Granted, it's not the same thing, but to publish your personal information does not give someone the right or permission to use that information for fraud any more than publishing my business address gives someone the right or permission to commit B&E.

With regards to "identity theft" vs "money theft", the end result is usually the theft of money. The label of "identity theft" basically describes HOW the theft took place...

Re:If you give it away (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21989266)

If I give my information to the bank teller, and that bank teller goes and uses that information to fradulently create accounts in my name, is that still not identify theft?

Re:If you give it away (2, Interesting)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989426)

Identity Theft can lead to bad credit (and years wasted trying to restore your credit) which can mean loss of a house. It can even lead to criminal charges mistakenly being attributed to you [blogspot.com] . The thieves really are stealing your identity to commit their fraudulent and illegal activities. And even though you still have your identity for your own use, it becomes sullied by the actions of the thieves. (Just in case someone wants to claim that the "copying music online isn't stealing because they still have the music" argument applies to identity theft.)

Re:If you give it away (3, Interesting)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989754)

Copying music online isn't stealing because it's copyright violation.
Obtaining and using a persons identity isn't theft because it's impersonation fraud.

Please let's use the correct terms.

Re:If you give it away (0, Offtopic)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989662)

It's because the term is a bit of a misnomer. There is no such thing as "Identity theft." You're identity is the only thing that can never be stolen from you. (Similar in concept to calling copyright violations, theft.) Obtaining personal information and utilizing it for gain is considered "Impersonation fraud."

Re:If you give it away (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989666)

Giving you my SSN doesn't give you permission to use it to open accounts in my name for your own benefit. So yes, it is stealing.

Re:If you give it away (1)

jorenko (238937) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989732)

Identity theft isn't the theft of identifying information, it's impersonating someone else for personal gain, usually at the impersonated person's loss. A prerequisite to this is often acquiring personal information, likely through theft or grayer methods such as dumpster diving, but as this case shows, not always.

Re:If you give it away (5, Funny)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989748)

Yeah, I just can't believe someone could be that stupid.

Signed

Sam B. Carswell
4994 Pin Oak Drive
Whittier, CA 90603

Email Address: SamBCarswell@fontdrift.com [fakemailgenerator.com]


Phone: 562-943-0713
Mother's maiden name: Grondin
Birthday: January 27, 1955

Visa: 4532 7971 3753 8401
Expires: 12/2009

SSN: 550-80-1765

UPS Tracking Number for my Plasma TV: 1Z 195 055 46 3018 447 5

Re:If you give it away (5, Funny)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989844)

Yes, but what's your /. password?

He had it coming... (5, Insightful)

Red Samurai (893134) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989008)

That was a pretty arrogant move, even for his standards, and I'm sure he's be humbled (somewhat) after being taken down a peg. I guess that's the price you pay for overconfidence.

Re:He had it coming... (0, Redundant)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989892)

I'm not sure what type of arrogance drove this.

Was he so sure that identity theft isn't a threat, as he said?

Or did he figure "even if the threat is real, an ID thief wouldn't want to prove it by stealing my information in a highly-publicized incident"?

And on the flip side -- will this morAn now admit he was wrong? Or will he claim that this was done by one of his opponents to try to create a high-profile incident?

"Some men, you just can't reach..."

Re:He had it coming... (1)

LinuxGrrl (123916) | more than 6 years ago | (#21990118)

If you'd read TFA you'd already know he did admit he was wrong. :-)

Re:He had it coming... (1)

seyyah (986027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21990080)

That was a pretty arrogant move, even for his standards, and I'm sure he's be humbled (somewhat) after being taken down a peg.

He was humbled and has publicly gone back on everything he said. From http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/7174760.stm [bbc.co.uk] :

"I was wrong and I have been punished for my mistake."

Police were called in to search for the two discs, which contained the entire database of child benefit claimants and apparently got lost in the post in October 2007. The loss, which led to an apology from Prime Minister Gordon Brown, created fears of identity fraud.

Clarkson now says of the case: "Contrary to what I said at the time, we must go after the idiots who lost the discs and stick cocktail sticks in their eyes until they beg for mercy."

Clarkson... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21989032)

Clarkson is the famous tv presenter on Top Gear. He is known for being a pisstaker and joke artist. Calling him a identity theft skeptic is making this sound far too serious. The joke is on slashdot.

skeptic is right (4, Informative)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989596)

The article called him a skeptic because he was skeptical that there was any danger in giving out his name, bank account details and hints of his address. This was a result of the furore about the 25 million NHS details that were lost last year - he didn't think there was anything to worry about.

He was wrong and went on to say so

Exactly (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989702)

Clarkson is primarily an entertainer. 500 quid for a gag like this is pretty cheap. Like all entertainers, Clarkson takes liberties with the truth. I would not be suprised if the whole thing is a scam done for a bit of a laugh.

News? (1, Insightful)

ynososiduts (1064782) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989058)

I understand how this is funny, but if someone publicly gives out there information in a way to draw attention from the press of course someone is going to do something. It's funny, it's non-news for nerds, and it doesn't matter.

Re:News? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21989236)

Stupid is as stupid does.
- Forrest Gump's Mama

Sheesh (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21989590)

It's funny, it's non-news for nerds, and it doesn't matter.

Every SINGLE article has some troll saying that the article doesn't belong on slashdot, and subtly insulting the readers for being interested in it.

Identity theft is a HUGE problem, and it also happens to be one in which many geeks are keenly interested. This particular story is interesting not only because it is identity theft related, but because it indicates that the public eye is being more drawn to the issue, and being forced to realize the seriousness of it.

The story matters. The story is definitely news for nerds. Just because YOU find it boring doesn't mean that it doesn't qualify as a significant slashdot story.

Yes, I realize that I just fed a very self-absorbed troll. All apologies.

Privacy Amendment (2, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989060)

The US Constitution needs a Privacy Amendment specifying that people's right to privacy in our personal data shall be protected, that no one has the right to copy any such data except as necessary to complete the immediate transaction for which it was transmitted by that person, except under explicit permission from that person.

The 4th Amendment already makes explicit the right to such privacy, but it clearly isn't enough anymore - not for a long time. But since the 4th Amendment itself was merely an emphasis of a right already implicit in the Constitution, but worth repeating explicitly to ensure government protection of it (like the rest of the Bill of Rights), it's perfectly appropriate to reiterate it in terms easily enforceable in the current era, like copyright terms.

Re:Privacy Amendment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21989260)

The fourth amendment places limits on government activity only. Nothing in the 4th amendment applies to a private party rummaging through your stuff.

Re:Privacy Amendment (4, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989394)

I hear this all the time, usually from Anonymous Cowards too scared to say something so anti-American in public. So I always rebut it, because I understand America, rights and government.

America is built on the simple, but radical (for the 1780s, anyway) realization that people have rights, create governments to protect those rights, so when we create them, we must create them with powers to protect them, but not to abuse them. We have a right to privacy, as the 4th Amendment says. The government exists to protect it,

Or are you going to tell me that, say, the 13th Amendment banning slavery limits only the government from owning slaves? No, freedom is a right. Rights are inalienable, not just "inalienable by the government".

Re:Privacy Amendment (5, Informative)

wombert (858309) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989738)

We have a right to privacy, as the 4th Amendment says. The government exists to protect it

Wrong. That's not what the 4th amendment says. The 4th amendment puts a limit on the government's ability to invade your privacy:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

It does not establish a right to privacy; that right, since it is not expressly surrendered to the government in the Constitution, is reserved to the states and the people via the 10th amendment.

It is up to your state and local government to define the limits of other individuals' ability to encroach on your privacy and property. (Similarly, it is up to those governments to specify how they protect individual's lives from the threat of other individuals.) If they fail to sufficiently protect those rights, well, there's always the 2nd amendment...

Re:Privacy Amendment (2, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989966)

No, it explicitly mentions the right to be secure in their persons, papers and effects. Those rights aren't "established" except insofar as they're identified, which they are here. Then the government that we created to protect our rights is instructed to protect that right. That's how rights, and the government, actually works.

Re:Privacy Amendment (1)

tirerim (1108567) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989900)

I agree with you, but I will point out that not all of the freedoms guaranteed by the constitution apply to private entities. In particular, the first amendment only says that freedom of speech, press, and religion shall not be abridged by Congress, which means that if you say something I don't like in my house, I have the perfect right to throw you out because of it, whereas the government cannot throw you out of the country for the same thing. So you can't really make analogies between different amendments to the Constitution, you have to look at each one individually.

Re:Privacy Amendment (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 6 years ago | (#21990038)

Or are you going to tell me that, say, the 13th Amendment banning slavery limits only the government from owning slaves? No, freedom is a right. Rights are inalienable, not just "inalienable by the government".

As much as I largely agree with your sentiment, it's contingent on everyone else playing by the same rules.

In this case, the underlying assumption of the legal system is that these rights are, in fact, inalienable. So it binds the government to adhere to that.

However, that doesn't mean that everyone agrees with you or that the reality matches the sentiment. It is, a philosophical and moral position. But, go someplace where they don't agree with you, and loudly proclaim to have these rights; you might be disappointed. You can try to say it's an absolute, objective truth that can't be overridden. But like so many things involving society, it's a thin veneer over actual human nature. In most places, or at least throughout most of history, it hasn't been true.

Sadly, it only holds true as long as all parties concede the point and agree with you. That doesn't always happen in all cases.

Anyway, this is pretty far from your point or this thread. :-P

Cheers

ok, a bit of the florida coast... (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 6 years ago | (#21990164)

America is
The name of the continent on which many countries, including the one you're talking about, are located.
It is named after an Italian mapmaker, from drawings [britannica.com] that did not feature the country you're discussing.

You may resume defending your rights.

Re:Privacy Amendment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21989614)

You fail it. The the idea that the US constitution enshrines a "right to privacy" was established by the Griswold vs. Connecticut case in 1965. The ruling in that case has nothing to do with the fourth amendment:

"Although the Bill of Rights does not explicitly mention "privacy", Justice William O. Douglas (writing for the majority) ruled that the right was to be found in the "penumbras" and "emanations" of other constitutional protections. Justice Arthur Goldberg wrote a concurring opinion in which he used the Ninth Amendment to defend the Supreme Court's ruling. Justice John Marshall Harlan II wrote a concurring opinion in which he argued that privacy is protected by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Justice Byron White also wrote a concurrence based on the due process clause."

Anyway, this whole fetishization of "privacy" is just another unnecessary luxury for fat spoiled americans. Here in People's Republic of China we do not sit around mewling about rights and freedom because we are too busy working hard for the harmonious advancement of People's Democratic Socialist Capitalsm.

No wonder Beijing Star newspaper reports China will soon be world's number one economy while fat ignorant Americans who don't even understand how their own "right to privacy" was derived overspend themselves into oblivion while enormous subprime mortgage crisis destroys stupid American economy.

Re:Privacy Amendment (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989846)

No, you fail the most basic test of all. You don't understand what rights are. No court or Constitution gives you rights. All the Griswold case did was give the government a procedure for analyzing how our Constitution is constructed to see whether and how it protects that right or not. So here you are staring at the Supreme Court, which did indeed find that

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects


meant that there is a right that people have, which the US government is directed to protect. That such protection was already embedded in existing US practice.

I'm not going to go for your "Chinese" troll and its arbitrary ramble. You're not even in China. But who cares? Nearly anyone these days can be totally wrong about creating a government to protect our rights. It's obvious, just from the way the US government alone abuses our rights rather than protects them, and the "libertarians" who want corporate anarchy instead of the people joining forces in government to protect ourselves. It's not just for China anymore. But of course that doesn't make it right.

Amendment 9 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21990028)

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

No... Hell No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21990196)

The Constitution has nothing to do with protecting one person from another. The Constitution grants certain rights to the government and spells out certain procedures of government. Other than prohibiting the keeping of slaves, it does not concern itself with anything that is not a government act. Please pay more attention in class.

How?? (5, Insightful)

jackjeff (955699) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989064)

How in hell is this possible?

Isn't your bank the only institution able to transfer money out of your account? Don't you have to show your ID? Don't you have to sign some documents???

My opinion is ID theft is only possible because the clerks in the banks are too lazy to check for an ID or a signature. Whenever you go to a bar in the US, they will look at your ID before they serve booze, but if you set up a $xxxx account/load no one will ever check it. This is just how ridiculous the system is. Account number without proof of identity should be as useless as a car without gas.

Re:How?? (1)

PJ1216 (1063738) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989176)

Whenever you go to a bar in the US, they will look at your ID before they serve booze.
This is true. But what about fake IDs? If a kid in high school can get a fake id, i'm sure its not THAT difficult to get a fake ID if you got the right info to put on it.

Re:How?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21989908)

1. The UK doesn't have IDs (not that the state issued driving licenses here in the US is a real ID as they keep telling us), and does not require such items for proof of identity. Although most people have passports, they're generally not needed.

2. Clarkson has been on TV for many years, he's also very odd looking. I doubt anyone that has had a TV over the last 20 years wouldn't know who his is.

3. To perform the financial transaction that took place, you either need appropriate online banking details to set up the standing order, or a signed form with signature and relevant banking details for sender and receiver to be filed with his bank.

Re:How?? (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989200)

I know that, for US banks, this is fairly straight-forward. The institution needs the account number, routing number, and will often require a signature (that they have nothing to compare to.) Also, most banks require that the receiving entity be a valid business address (Diabetes UK should work just fine.)

I assume that the UK rules are similar, but don't know for sure. Looks like a £500 lesson learned and a chance to open a new account.

Re:How?? (1)

jmpeax (936370) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989218)

Isn't your bank the only institution able to transfer money out of your account? Don't you have to show your ID? Don't you have to sign some documents???
In the UK (I assume in the US as well), direct debits can be set up without needing to sign anything, so it can even be done over the Internet (that's how PayPal's bank transfer system works).

Re:How?? (3, Informative)

jackjeff (955699) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989504)

I don't know the UK system very well, but I have lived in Germany and France for some time.

Direct debit can only be set up for large institutions like major phone company, electricity company etc... These are either tight to a particular location or your ID is checked (for instance for mobile phones). It's pretty hard to do anything nasty with that.

Wire transfer over the internet requires a one time pad in Germany. You receive a list of codes via secure mail (the same as the one used to send you credit card PIN). In France it sucks, but basically it is not so different from the US, you have to sign up for the service and various password / identification schemes are put in place (although they suck compared to the German OTP).

In France one of my banks even required me to go to a branch to register the bank number before I could make a transfer.

Re:How?? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21989736)

The UK Direct Debit is allowed to be set up by certain 'trusted organisations' (eg utility companies, local councils) - it is widely used - if any query is made the bank refunds the money then sorts out the problem as all transfers should require a 10days notice sent to the registered address of the account

Re:How?? (4, Informative)

stranger_to_himself (1132241) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989296)

Isn't your bank the only institution able to transfer money out of your account? Don't you have to show your ID? Don't you have to sign some documents???

Not at all. I've just set up direct debits to pay my bills just by sending my bank account number to the electricity company. They do the rest. Presumably they just take my word for it that it's my money, and then the bank sets up the debit without asking any questions.

Oh actually I think there was a 'this is not a fraud' tickybox.

Re:How?? (2, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989318)

Isn't your bank the only institution able to transfer money out of your account? Don't you have to show your ID? Don't you have to sign some documents???

No, you can sign a form with a company allowing them access to your account.

I've done this with my insurance company for years. However, I won't let anyone else do it because I've heard too many stories of the company messing up and taking too much money too often or what have you. I don't remember the particulars, but I don't think I had to involve my bank in setting it up.

I get asked to do it fairly often because companies like to sell it as a "convenient" method of billing -- directly taking money from my account isn't what I call convenient. It's convenient for them, but it's not happening.

My opinion is ID theft is only possible because the clerks in the banks are too lazy to check for an ID or a signature.

Well, the guy in the article had a similar opinion. I would say unless you really know every possible way this can happen, your blanket statement is probably no more valid than his was.

I have no idea if the bank was the way this happened, or another mechanism was at play. Either way, I'm not gonna stop shredding my bank statements and otherwise keeping this stuff private. Because, quite frankly, I don't know enough about how to commit fraud other than to do what I can to make sure nobody ever sees it in the first place.

I'm certainly not willing to bet that mis-handling at the bank is the only way this can happen.

Cheers

Re:How?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21989350)

No, the only thing I need to transfer money out of your bank account is the account #. That is why it is a bad thing to give personal checks to people or businesses you don't know.

Re:How?? (1)

Entropius (188861) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989638)

That's absurd, then.

You can get a digital camera that fits in your pocket that has an angular resolution of 0.002 degree. (Panasonic FZ18, $299). If you want a little more resolution, put a teleconverter on it for a resolution of ~0.0013 degree. I doubt it would be very hard to disguise one of those and photograph people's checks (or, for that matter, credit cards at gas stations) from a significant distance away.

Re:How?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21989392)

hey, I've heard that car without gas can actually be useful for some thing called 'sex'?

Re:How?? (1)

SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989580)

hey, I've heard that car without gas can actually be useful for some thing called 'sex'?
In that case, it's just like your credit. One mistake, and you lose financial freedom and are paying for it for the next 18 years or so.

Naiveate` (4, Informative)

Burning1 (204959) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989448)

A lot of people are very naive about the security provided by credit cards and checking accounts.

I used to run credit cards and EFT as part of a previous job, and I was responsible for setting up the system. The only thing I need for an electronic funds transfer is your bank routing and account numbers. All that information is available on a voided check.

The only security you have, is that it's difficult to complete these kinds of transactions anonymously. Bank fraud is a big deal if you are caught.

The same is true of credit cards. Your signature is a contract promising to pay. It protects the business against customers reversing charges on purchased goods. It is not used for authentication of any form.

Re:How?? (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989652)

Whenever you go to a bar in the US, they will look at your ID before they serve booze, but if you set up a $xxxx account/load no one will ever check it.

What's worse is that if a bar serves an underager they get slapped with a fine and worse. When cashiers don't bother to check for ID and they let a fraudulent purchase get by there is no penalty for not following protocol. I know this is hard to enforce since it probably has no real legal leggings but it would seem that being able to sue companies that are negligent in this aspect would probably bring more companies inline with common sense procedures.

I wonder how much that alone would reduce the problems of identity theft. I'm certain that there is no catch-all in this era but every bit helps.

No, there are systems to do it (2, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989674)

In America the big one is the Automated Clearing House. That's how you do thing like automatic bill pay or such if you want. The company you are paying tells the bank "The customer for this account said I could have this much money," and the bank transfers it. Now the balance on this is that you don't just hop on the network. I can't just go and do an ACH debit from your account. Those that are part of the network are subject to strict regulations, once of which being you have to say it is ok for them to take money from your account. If they just do it without permission, they are in trouble.

However, you would be right in thinking that this isn't perfectly secure. We live in a world of imperfection, however, and usability is balanced against security all the time.

It only works for certain registered entities... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989706)

UK law allows you to set up direct debits to certain registered entities without too much verification. The pranksters simply chose one of them.

There's no way a thief could transfer money to their own account (in theory).

Re:How?? (1)

Gyppo (982168) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989720)

Nope. You can go to many web sites and transfer money to them from a bank account electronically simply by providing your bank account number and bank routing number (which is readily available on paper checks). That's how I set up my automatic mortgage payments.

Re:How?? (1)

Albanach (527650) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989812)

Isn't your bank the only institution able to transfer money out of your account?
Generally yes. The banks also approve companies and non profits who can then take part in the Direct Debit scheme. They can then set up a mandate and start collecting money from your account say as bill payment or a membership subscription. These transactions are covered by the Direct Debit Guarantee.

Don't you have to show your ID? Don't you have to sign some documents???
No, these can be set up electronically online or over the phone. Because of the arduous requirements to joint the Direct Debit scheme, the banks see little fraud. It is pretty much impossible to withdraw funds from someone's account for your own benefit, you can only give them to an approved company or charity.

Re:How?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21989824)

How in hell is this possible?
Electronic check.

Will it lead to stricter regulation of credit? (4, Interesting)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989070)

It seems like making people paranoid about protecting their personal data is the wrong way to attack the problem, especially given the significant chance that whatever they do, some 3rd party will release that data and put them at risk.

Instead, we should remove the incentive for identity theft and make it MUCH more onerous and difficult to get anything worthwhile out of stolen financial data.

Plus, it'd be nice to not get those 10-15 credit card offers a week in the mail.

To answer the question (2, Informative)

cream wobbly (1102689) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989112)

No. Clarkson wasn't the victim of "identity "theft"". For starters, he allowed his bank details to be published in a national newspaper. Second, a person impersonating someone else does not steal the victim's identity: the impersonator simply ... impersonates someone else. Using publicly available records for impersonation simply takes the exercise up a notch. Maybe it should be a crime in itself, but it's like possessing a set of keys. Anyone can scratch your car with 'em. When it becomes "theft" is when someone steals an identifying document, such as a passport, social/national security card, or a driv[er's|ing] licen[c|s]e. There is evidence of a lot of idiocy here: bad reporting; poor understanding of a simple word, "theft"; Clarkson being a prat as usual; and people who give up their details to people who ask for them. Pah.

Re:To answer the question (5, Informative)

gnick (1211984) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989474)

Actually, it doesn't say that he was a victim of "identity theft". It says that he is an "Identity Theft Skeptic" and that he is a "Fraud Victim". The article called the crime "identity fraud" which seems accurate. Somebody said "These is my account information, please accept my money." - Perfectly describable as "identity fraud" and nearly enough for the article submitter to assume that the fraudsters were "identity thieves" as he described them.

Re:To answer the question (3, Interesting)

raftpeople (844215) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989502)

When it becomes "theft" is when someone steals an identifying document, such as a passport, social/national security card, or a driv[er's|ing] licen[c|s]e.
So, if they steal a document then it's identity theft, but if they create a false document using accurate information, then it's not identity theft?

Re:To answer the question (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989840)

From wikipedia: "Identity theft is a catch-all term for crimes involving illegal usage of another individual's identity."

Clarkson announced it on Top Gear (2, Funny)

Manny_Bones (1120445) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989128)

During the news segment this season. He somehow blamed it on using his credit card at the gas pump, whether or not it was while filling up his Lamborghini he didn't say. James May did not say "oh cock" to this.

Hoist on his own petard (2, Insightful)

whitehatlurker (867714) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989142)

Clarkson now says of the case: "Contrary to what I said at the time, we must go after the idiots who lost the discs and stick cocktail sticks in their eyes until they beg for mercy."

I wonder if he poked sticks into his own eyes ... after all, he did exactly the same thing, the only exception being that he did it to himself, rather than to others.

I can only hope he continues to contribute to the charity so he can stay humble.

Direct Debit Guarantee (5, Informative)

Albanach (527650) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989174)

To be fair what happened was someone set up a Direct Debit in his name, where a company or organisation can deduct money directly from your bank account. These are _very_ common in the UK, much more so than direct bill payment in the US.

One of the reasons they are so common is that every transaction under them is covered by the Direct Debit Guarantee [bacs.co.uk] . Under this, he can get an immediate refund from his bank just by asking.

The process of being approved to collect direct debits is pretty arduous, as the banks bear a lot of the costs if something goes wrong. At the same time, the consumer has a level of protection light years beyond that offered in the US for similar transactions.

It's not that uncommon for friends exchanging money in the UK (say someone borrowed some cash for a night out) to simply hand over their bank details and get the money from their friend as an electronic transfer using online banking. In general it'd be pretty difficult for someone to take money from an individual's bank account, even knowing their details for their own benefit. I'm not even sure most online banking in the US lets you deposit money directly into another person's account?

Credit Cards (1)

labnet (457441) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989688)

What really annoys me is I cancelled an Amex card over a year ago, and they still accept automatic debit charges.
I got a statement only yesterday from an ISP I forgot to change my card with. I rang Amex and said, please reject the charge, but they outright refused saying even though the card was cancelled, my 'contract' of automatic direct debit takes precedence.

Strangely (2, Insightful)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989226)

I still hear the LifeLock commercials on the radio as I drive to work all the time. I don't see how they can prevent someone from stealing your identity, especially if you're dumb enough to give out the information to people who will use it for nefarious purposes. If all there offering is a service to undo the damage, that might be useful given how time-consuming it is, but then can they necessarily represent you to organizations where you need the information changed or charges nullified?

Re:Strangely (1)

mcsqueak (1043736) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989792)

I don't see how they can prevent someone from stealing your identity

The only way they can help prevent it is through the "fraud alerts" they submit for you every 90 days to the 3 credit companies. You can do this yourself, for free. I've done this, and the last time I applied for credit the bank institution called me up to ask me some questions and confirm I was actually me.

They also get you off of the bulk mail lists for credit card offers and such. Again, you can do this yourself, for free. Do a google search for "opt out prescreen". I did this and have noticed a marked drop in credit offers. I think the only offers I get now are from companies that I currently do business with.

Besides that, I don't know that they do anything else to "prevent" fraud. They do offer to help you fix your credit if you are defrauded, however.

available information vs. foot in mouth (4, Insightful)

MyNymWasTaken (879908) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989248)

The information he gave out was the same information a person gives out when they hand over a check. It's analogous to a pundit loudly proclaiming that it is perfectly safe to walk around outside. This is then demonstrated by walking through a large crowd of people. Somebody decides to prove otherwise & stabs them in a non-lethal manner solely to illustrate the point.

Open Mouth. (2, Funny)

AndGodSed (968378) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989310)

Insert Foot.

Clarkson has a no-nonsense approach (1)

daveewart (66895) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989374)

Regarding the recent loss of CDs containing data on 25 million UK people, Clarkson says: "We must go after the idiots who lost the discs and stick cocktail sticks in their eyes until they beg for mercy."

Can't argue with that.

Re:Clarkson has a no-nonsense approach (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#21990152)

Yea except he himself thought that it was no big deal to start with and harmless... So when does he start sticking those cocktail stick in his own eyes?

where are the class action lawyers? (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989412)

With all the money being lost in this kind of crime you'd think the vulture lawyers would be swarming all over the poor practices by financial companies. These companies have lots of money to "liberate". The crimes are utter negligence.

Obligatory (1)

mdonley (1059086) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989430)

In Soviet Russia, identity steals YOU

It has to be said... (1)

_xeno_ (155264) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989458)

Identity theft - how hard can it be?

(And if you don't get it, watch Top Gear [wikipedia.org] .)

yOUR identity being usurped by corepirate nazis (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21989476)

most of US are not what we are being caused to look like (warmongering crusaders) in most of the rest of the world. let yOUR conscience be yOUR guide. you can be more helpful than you might have imagined. there are still some choices. if they do not suit you, consider the likely results of continuing to follow the corepirate nazi hypenosys story LIEn, whereas anything of relevance is replaced almost instantly with pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking propaganda or 'celebrity' trivia 'foam'. meanwhile; don't forget to get a little more oxygen on yOUR brain, & look up in the sky from time to time, starting early in the day. there's lots going on up there.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071229/ap_on_sc/ye_climate_records;_ylt=A0WTcVgednZHP2gB9wms0NUE [yahoo.com]
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080108/ts_alt_afp/ushealthfrancemortality;_ylt=A9G_RngbRIVHsYAAfCas0NUE [yahoo.com]
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/31/opinion/31mon1.html?em&ex=1199336400&en=c4b5414371631707&ei=5087%0A [nytimes.com]

is it time to get real yet? A LOT of energy is being squandered in attempts to keep US in the dark. in the end (give or take a few 1000 years), the creators will prevail (world without end, etc...), as it has always been. the process of gaining yOUR release from the current hostage situation may not be what you might think it is. butt of course, most of US don't know, or care what a precarious/fatal situation we're in. for example; the insidious attempts by the felonious corepirate nazi execrable to block the suns' light, interfering with a requirement (sunlight) for us to stay healthy/alive. it's likely not good for yOUR health/memories 'else they'd be bragging about it? we're intending for the whoreabully deceptive (they'll do ANYTHING for a bit more monIE/power) felons to give up/fail even further, in attempting to control the 'weather', as well as a # of other things/events.

http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=video+cloud+spraying [google.com]

dictator style micro management has never worked (for very long). it's an illness. tie that with life0cidal aggression & softwar gangster style bullying, & what do we have? a greed/fear/ego based recipe for disaster. meanwhile, you can help to stop the bleeding (loss of life & limb);

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/28/vermont.banning.bush.ap/index.html [cnn.com]

the bleeding must be stopped before any healing can begin. jailing a couple of corepirate nazi hired goons would send a clear message to the rest of the world from US. any truthful look at the 'scorecard' would reveal that we are a society in decline/deep doo-doo, despite all of the scriptdead pr ?firm? generated drum beating & flag waving propaganda that we are constantly bombarded with. is it time to get real yet? please consider carefully ALL of yOUR other 'options'. the creators will prevail. as it has always been.

corepirate nazi execrable costs outweigh benefits
(Score:-)mynuts won, the king is a fink)
by ourselves on everyday 24/7

as there are no benefits, just more&more death/debt & disruption. fortunately there's an 'army' of light bringers, coming yOUR way. the little ones/innocents must/will be protected. after the big flash, ALL of yOUR imaginary 'borders' may blur a bit? for each of the creators' innocents harmed in any way, there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available. 'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet, & by your behaviors. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi glowbull warmongering execrable. some of US should consider ourselves somewhat fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate. it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc.... as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis. concern about the course of events that will occur should the life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order. 'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

meanwhile, the life0cidal philistines continue on their path of death, debt, & disruption for most of US. gov. bush denies health care for the little ones;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/03/bush.veto/index.html [cnn.com]

whilst demanding/extorting billions to paint more targets on the bigger kids;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/12/bush.war.funding/index.html [cnn.com]

& pretending that it isn't happening here;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article3086937.ece [timesonline.co.uk]
all is not lost/forgotten/forgiven

(yOUR elected) president al gore (deciding not to wait for the much anticipated 'lonesome al answers yOUR questions' interview here on /.) continues to attempt to shed some light on yOUR foibles. talk about reverse polarity;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article3046116.ece [timesonline.co.uk]

I wasn't even aware... (1)

Atroxodisse (307053) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989776)

...that there is such thing as an identity theft skeptic. What idiots don't believe that it is possible? It's somewhat like being skeptical of the moon.

Really? (1)

meeya (1152133) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989858)

if you don't mind ,is it still available on the web site?

"The stupid kid who gets his tater tots stolen... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21989904)

every day? He steals your tater tots."

Data protection act ? (4, Interesting)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989998)

Why the F should the data protection act stop the bank investigating fraud ? What questions are the bank prohibited from asking ? In the UK the data protection act is often used by organisations as an excuse to not do something - quite often because the are too lazy to do a proper job.

If a crime bas been committed the police have good reason to seek to have privacy doors opened - perhaps with the oversight/approval of a judge. Recent UK legislation is giving civil servants wide investigation powers - without judicial oversight.

This smacks of an excuse.

Actually... (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21990040)

It says they took £500, not $1000.

LOL @ the dunce (1)

TheHorse13 (908512) | more than 6 years ago | (#21990056)

I'm so sure that my cyber-crime computer lessons will do everything I claim that I want you to try them for FREE*. If you're not completely satisfied, I'll even refund your shipping and processing fee. It's that simple. Try my product. You have nothing to lose and a wealth of computer skills to gain. John W. Scherer

How Many Different Ways.... (2, Insightful)

mpapet (761907) | more than 6 years ago | (#21990100)

Can this topic come up and not a single person asks ANY of the following questions:

1. I get someone elses ssn, and I'm off to the bank. (or whatever) Why is the process that associates a unique identifier (U.S. = SSN) with financial activity so simple?

2. Why does "sucks to be you" suffice every single time this issue comes up?

3. While individual financial data is available to the financial institutions, it's totally opaque to the consumer. Ex. how is my credit score calculated? How come consumers have practically no control over it?

4. The risks of an easy credit system far outweigh the benefits and yet no one seems to acknowledge this. An indirect example of this is the bad packaged loans that are driving the current "credit crunch."

Transparency is the keystone to a healthy economy and yet there's less and less with each passing year.
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