TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Stealing Your ID Can be as Easy as ABC

Stealing Your ID Can be as Easy as ABC

Monty Solomon (
Mon, 26 Sep 2005 01:23:38 -0400

By Joe Light, Globe Correspondent

Self-proclaimed identity thieves have a message for you: personal
information is frighteningly easy to get.

Tammy Martin, a 37-year-old instructor at the University of Hawaii,
couldn't believe it.

"This is wild," she said. "You can't live your life in a balloon,
you know? But this is just wild."

Her shock was warranted. I had just called her on an unlisted
cellphone number and informed her that I had her Social Security
number, Visa card number, bank account and personal identification
numbers, and eBay account name and password.

If I chose, not only could I drain her bank account and rack up
charges on the Visa, but with her Social Security number, I could
probably open new credit cards -- maybe even a mortgage -- long before
she discovered a problem. Ultimately, she would likely not be
responsible for the charges, but it might take days -- or months -- to
rectify her credit.

Martin was not a victim of identity theft. But the information was in
the hands of a self-proclaimed identity thief. I received the
information during an interview with someone who goes by the online
nickname Bart Maza. He said he is an 18-year-old high school dropout
in Russia. In total, he gave me the data of 17 people.

I'd written several articles about identity theft for the Globe, but
this was the first time I attempted to directly contact an apparent
identity thief. Although I had spoken to many law enforcement
officials, private security investigators, victims, and consumer
advocates about the issue, I decided to go to the source to truly
understand how the identity theft supply chain operates -- from the
time that the data are stolen to the time that information is used

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