News & Resources

Virtual, tangible techniques used by identity thieves

Mar 17, 2014 Dave King

The reach of identity thieves has grown considerably over the past few years. From malevolent figures working through digital environments to pickpockets stealing wallets, it's alarmingly easy for skilled criminals to obtain information capable of financially crippling individuals.

Breaking in windows
According to ABC Local, a duo operating out of both Delaware and Chester Counties, Pa., have been targeting athletic clubs for consumer credit data and identity information. The news source reported that the group breaks into vehicles when victims enter the facilities to exercise. Afterward, the bandits visit the banks of those who suffered the theft and use the far drive-up lane so that it's difficult for tellers to compare the stolen identification with the person attempting to use it.

Surveillance footage recently captured still images of the two suspects allegedly trying to withdraw cash from a TD Bank in Pennsauken, N.J., after stealing a woman's purse outside of a Planet Fitness in nearby Ashton. If the appropriate information is stolen, like-minded bandits could use it to establish fabricated deals with short term lenders to receive extra cash in the victim's name.

"We believe it originated in Florida and moved its way up the east coast, and we have information all the way to the state of Maine," Detective Steve Saunders, an officer assigned to the case, told the news source. Apparently, the Maine victim lost $18,000 as a result of the ruse.

How to keep an eye on it
As credit bureaus and short term lenders handle particularly sensitive information, there's a high probability that these organizations will be targeted by database hackers. Just as there are tactics to steal consumer credit data, there are methods to protect it as well. Wall Street Cheat Sheet cited three ways in which businesses can secure their data:

  • Knowing when to share a Social Security number is essential to maintaining client financial security. According to the news source, organizations are not legally obligated to provide the SS numbers of their employees or clients unless a transaction requires notification of the Internal Revenue Service. Government agencies at every level are required to disclose all reasoning behind mandated submission.
  • For short term lenders, knowing which companies are employing their clients and which workers have access to their financial information can provide them with pathways toward identifying individuals who may have compromised client data.