Data breaches. Organized crime. Methamphetamine addicts. Illegal aliens. What do all of these have in common? Each increases the risk that you’ll become a victim of identity theft.
- TJX (TJ Maxx and other retail stores); 94 millions records
- Card Systems (Visa, MasterCard, American Express); 40 million records
- America Online (AOL); 30 million records
- US Department of Veterans’ Affairs; 26.5 million records
- From the Thurston County Sheriff’s Department in Wahsington: “ID theft is so easy to do,” said Detective Jim Dunn “They can steal mail. They have the time, meth keeps them up so long. They have the time to sit and make counterfeit checks, fake driver’s licenses.”
- From Joe Morales, director of the Denver district attorney’s economic crime unit: 60 percent to 70 percent of his office’s identity theft cases involved methamphetamine users or dealers, often in rings of 10 or more.
Approximately 250 million records have been lost by corporate and government entities in the since January, 2005. The four largest account for roughly 80% of all compromised records.
The US Department of Justice charged 38 people as part of an organized crime ring that used the Internet to defraud thousands of individual victims and hundreds of financial institutions.
Regarding international racketeering, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Thomas P. O’Brien said, “Just as street gangs don’t respect municipal borders, computer criminals can reach into other countries and prey upon unsuspecting victims who have no idea their identities and money are going to another country.
Heroin or crack users can’t stay focused on any one task long enough to accomplish anything. But meth’s mechanism in the brain creates a high that allows users to stay up for days on end, working on detailed, repetitive tasks. Much of the time the task at hand is stealing mail from mailboxes or trash cans.
- “Anybody I knew that did meth was also doing fraud, identity theft or stealing mail,” former meth addict Tammie Carroll, said.
- In a survey of 500 county sheriffs, 27 percent said methamphetamine had contributed to a rise in identity theft in their areas.
Ever heard of the Earnings Suspense File? Since 1984, more than $500 billion of wages 9 million mismatched names and Social Security numbers has ended up in it. The Earnings Suspense File is where the Social Security Administration records the withdrawals employers subtract from employees’ paychecks that don’t match the name on the Social Security Administration’s records.
In some cases, the error can be explained by something as commonplace as a woman who doesn’t notify the Social Security Administration when she marries and changes her surname. Sometimes the mismatch can be attributed to a clerical error.
Neither the Social Security Administration nor the IRS has never put effort into tracking the source of the confusion. However, one study the SSA did undertake determined that most of the unmatched payments are coming from agriculture and restaurants—the largest employers of illegal aliens.
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