Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Different Angle on Identity Theft: When Identity Thieves Use Your Identity

The story of Dr. Gemma Meadows, as reported by MSNBC is an intriguing one. Like many victims of identity theft, she was contacted by her bank and informed of fraudulent activity. What happened next though, is a bit off the normal path for identity theft victims.

Various packages with a wide range of values started to show up, and have continued to show up. Now, Dr. Meadows spends time tracking and returning packages, as well as fielding calls from various vendors from whom the items are ordered.

Why? According to the article, and what she has been able to determine, the identity thieves are using her information to test validation scripts on e-commerce websites. Her valid address, phone, and other details are being used to make transactions appear valid.

Interestingly, the scripts seem to work in some cases, flagging the transactions as possible fraudlent. The article mentions that some sites note that the item is to be shipped thousands of kilometers away from the order location, and that others call to verify that she is the one placing the order. Many others, however, don't do as well, and the stream of packages continues.

The article is well worth a read. We're used to seeing lives disrupted by identity theft and the credit and financial issues that can go with it. Receiving packages when criminals use your identity to support their crimes in a different way is an entirely different event, and appears to be one that law enforcement and our database driven society isn't geared to handle.

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