New York police recently indicted twelve people from Brooklyn and Queens, charging them with an intricate identity theft conspiracy by which they are alleged to have leveraged easily obtained personal information to obtain credit cards in their victims’ names. They are then alleged to have used these cards to go on shopping sprees at stores, such as Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue, Louis Vuitton and the Apple Store where they purchased expensive items that they could turn into cash on the black market.
One of the more disturbing element of this identity theft ring is that they obtained enough personal information from public data bases and companies that search those data bases for you to apply for credit cards in the names of their victims. They also made counterfeit IDs to provide when they purchased items. Other times they were able to merely add their names to existing accounts. They also used the fraudulent credit cards to activate “Apple Pay” on their iPhones so they didn’t even have to provide a credit card when making purchases. After the cards were ordered from the credit card issuers, they would have a member of the ring wait at the address where the cards were to be delivered to intercept the delivery. They also were able to avoid credit card company fraud alert telephone calls inquiring about suspicious purchases by having their victims’ telephone numbers forwarded to phones they controlled.
The ease with which the alleged criminals were able to obtain sufficient personal information in order to obtain credit cards in the names of their victims and forward their victims’ telephone calls points out the importance of companies taking stronger measures to protect our personal information and require more comprehensive security to confirm that they are not dealing with identity thieves. The best thing that we as consumers can do to protect ourselves from this type of crime is to put a credit freeze on your credit report so that credit cards cannot be obtained in your name without your specific authorization. For more information about how to put a credit freeze on your credit reports, go to the section entitled “Search this Website” at the top of this Scamicide page and type in “credit freeze.”