Great attention is being given by many companies and institutions to protecting themselves from identity thieves attacking them from the outside, but it is also important for companies to pay equal attention to protecting themselves from the threat of identity theft and data breaches from rogue employees within their own companies. Recently, Ronald Reed pleaded guilty to bank fraud and identity theft in federal court in California. Reed convinced four Wells Fargo bank employees into providing him with information about Wells Fargo bank customers including their birth dates, bank account numbers and Social Security numbers which he used to steal money from the customers’ accounts as well as use their accounts to cash counterfeit checks. Reed is scheduled to be sentenced on July 15th and faces as many as 32 years in prison.
Identity theft by bank insiders is a growing problem. Late last year two bank employees of JP Morgan Chase were indicted for accessing customers accounts through phony ATM cards and stealing approximately $400,000. Older people with accounts into which their Social Security checks are electronically deposited are particular desirable targets of these criminals. In addition, many criminal bank insiders, familiar with banking regulations keep their fraudulent withdrawals to less than $10,000, the level at which greater bank scrutiny occurs.
There is little that we can do as consumers to protect ourselves from this type of insider identity theft. The best thing you can do is to monitor all of your accounts and financial dealings often in order to recognize as soon as possible when identity theft has occurred. The earlier you learn that you have become a victim of identity theft, the easier it is to correct the problem. Anyone who has become a victim of identity theft should go to the tab at the top of the Scamicide.com website for detailed information about the steps you need to take if you have become a victim of identity theft.
As for the banks themselves, they should do a better job of screening potential employees. Some banks do little more than a cursory criminal background check. In addition, banks should limit the access of tellers to customer information. New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has advised New York banks to limit the access of tellers to such sensitive customer account information.