Identity Thieves, Banking and Y2k : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Consumers' Y2k Fears Preyed upon by Identity Thieves

WASHINGTON, DC, U.S.A., 1999 APR 22 (NB) By Bob Woods, Newsbytes.

Thieves are tapping into the public's fears about the Year 2000 (Y2K) computer glitch problem to steal the identity of other people for their own personal gain, a top Federal Trade Commission (FTC) official testified on Capitol Hill today.The FTC said "identity theft" occurs when "someone uses the identifying information of another person to commit fraud or engage in other unlawful activities."

This personal information can be used, for example, to either take over or open a credit card account under someone else's name, take out loans in another person's name, and write fraudulent checks or transfer money from another person's bank or brokerage account -- all of which can have "dire financial consequences for the identity theft victim, the FTC has said.

FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Jodie Bernstein said one recent scheme involved an identity thief, posing as official from a consumer's bank, attempting to gain personal information from an unwitting citizen by "need(ing) certain information about the consumer's account (or needs to transfer money to a special account) in order to ensure the bank can comply with Year 2000 requirements."

The FTC issued a "consumer alert" about protecting one's finances from Y2K scam artists last month. A Web site is available with further information, at .

Many other methods are used to steal one's identity, Bernstein said. One way simply comes from the increased availability and amount of information available via the Internet.

Other methods are decidedly "low tech," Bernstein said. "(H)istorically, identity thieves have been able to get the personal information they need to operate through... intercepting orders of new checks in the mail or tricking others into giving up this information."

Bernstein also testified that identity thieves now have developed new methods of obtaining personal information, such as calling banks or other financial institutions under false pretenses.

In addition, information can be taken from the magnetic strip of a credit card when the card is inserted through "either a specialized card reader or a legitimate payment mechanism," and then encoded onto any other card with a magnetic strip, Bernstein said. This new practice is known as "skimming," she also testified.

Bernstein's testimony also reviewed the FTC's authority to investigate alleged violations of federal statutes that regulate the financial services industry, the FTC said.

The FTC's role under the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998 was also addressed by Bernstein. She said the FTC is responsible for "managing information sharing among public and private entities" in support of the criminal aspects of the law and "aiding victims by serving as a central, federal source of information."

A toll-free telephone line will soon be established for consumers wanting to both report identity theft, and to resolve problems related to such crimes, Bernstein said. The FTC is also "developing a database to track the identity theft complaints received by the FTC and other entities," she said.

Bernstein testified at a joint hearing before the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Trade, and Consumer Protection, and the House Subcommittee on Finance and Hazardous Materials. Both subcommittees are part of the House Commerce Committee.

The FTC's Web site is at .

-- Can be (read@two.ways), April 24, 1999


as a bounus to the spin campaign this helps add to the "y2k is a hoax/scam" memetic bouncing around out there in media-land

"Those that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." (Ben Franklin)

-- zoobie (, April 24, 1999.

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