Are You Ready For The Next Wave of Identity Theft
Dewey Kearney asked:
As everyone knows unless you have been asleep like Rip Van Winkle identity theft has become the #1 crime wave in the U.S.A. according to the FBI and the US Postal Service.
Now a new fear has raised its head because of the recent federal and the state laws that go into effect on January 1, 2008. For years anyone in the country illegally could (and still can) purchase any type of document on the street from some vendor. These fake documents can range from a Social Security card, drivers license, green card or practically anything else people are willing to pay for.
Recently the Arizona Republic ran a three-page article on how easy these documents were to obtain. Arizona and Phoenix are both rated #1 in identity theft. Arizona police have seized 2,134 fraudulent documents in the last two years. And note, that’s just what they found, not what’s out there. Further the Republic says police have received 3400 identity-theft complaints from January 1, 2006 through June 30, 2007.
According to the Arizona Republic the authorities fear the fake identity industry will grow as migrants look for ways to circumvent the state’s new employer-sanctions law and a new Bush administration crackdown on illegal workers.
With the job markets for illegal immigrants closing the police statewide look for more identity thefts in order to obtain authentic numbers. “It’s growing and it’s pervasive,” says Lt. Giles Tipsword of the Phoenix Police Department’s property crimes bureau. “This is a multimillion-dollar industry”.
To give some idea of the size of this industry look at these figures:
· 1.5 Million Dollars in Cash seized from fraudulent-document makers operating in Arizona in the last 2 years.
· 491 fake green cards
· 487 Social Security Cards bought by undercover officers
· 172 Drivers licenses bought by undercover officers
· 147 Computers seized
· 217 People arrested
· And you know they didn’t get them all, that goes without saying.
Arizona’s new employer-sanctions law requires companies to verify worker eligibility through a federal database. Lawmakers in other states are taking steps to make it more difficult for illegal immigrants to get fake documents. And under new rules announced last week the Bush administration employers face prosecution if they don’t fire workers whose names and Social Security numbers don’t match.
Nobody expects the fake document industry to dry up and disappear. If anything those in the know say they expect it to get bigger and more sophisticated as criminals who make fake documents adapt to meet the demand. The database can’t flag documents made with stolen identities, where the names and numbers match.
According to Leesa Berens Morrison, the director of the Arizona Department Homeland Security, “There is a good potential for an increase in identity theft and also an increase in the manufacture and sale of fraudulent documents”.
In July, Governor Napolitano signed a tough employer-sanctions law aimed at turning off the job magnet that draws so many illegal immigrants. That law which takes effect January 1, 2008 revokes the business license of employers who knowingly hire illegal workers a second time. It also requires the more than 150,000 licensed Arizona employers to run Social Security and other data for new employees through the federal Basic Pilot Program, an electronic verification system. For the record Arizona businesses employ about 1.6 million workers.
The Basic Pilot Program is designed to determine whether an employee is authorized to work in the U.S. As a result, local, state and federal authorities anticipate a rise in identity theft. They expect to see fake-document makers morphing into large-scale criminal enterprises producing high quality fraudulent documents made with real names and real Social Security numbers stolen from someone else. The trick here is not to let yourself be one of those!
IDENTITY THEFT PROTECTION
Undocumented immigrants frequently use illegally obtained identification numbers to gain employment. Victims of this type of identity theft may not suffer financial harm initially because of its intended use. However, down the road you don’t know but what that person may decide to see if they can get a credit card, or buy a house or car – do you see where this is going? They become you! Even if they don’t it will still take you many hours to unravel the web they will have woven. Here is what you can do to protect yourself.
· The first thing you should do is subscribe to LifeLock. There is no finer protection available. And all for about $10 per month.
· Review all bank and credit card statements monthly.
· Notify banks or credit card companies immediately of any unauthorized activity.
· Write “Ask for photo ID next to your signature on the back of your credit cards.
· Ask your credit card company to stop sending blank checks with statements.
· Carefully review your credit reports. Each of the three major credit bureaus must provide a free copy once every 12 months. When you subscribe to LifeLock they will take care of this for you.
· Keep documents with personal information, credit card account information and PIN numbers in a safe place.
· Use a credit card, not a debit card when ordering on-line or by phone. Credit cards offer greater protection to consumers.
· Guard your Social Security number. Never carry your Social Security card with you.
· Do not give out your Social Security number unless it is required for employment, bank account or other legitimate purpose.
· Do not put your Social Security number on your driver’s license.