Monday, October 10, 2011

Who Commits Identity Theft?

From Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter
by Dick Eastman

I have written before a number of times about identity theft as well as the safety of using credit cards for online purchases. Now authorities have busted what is believed to be the biggest identity theft ring in U.S. history: a credit-card-stealing organization that stole more than $US13 million in less than a year-and-a-half.

So who were these thieves? Were they hardened criminals or computer hackers, experienced in theft? Apparently not. In fact, almost all of the 111 people charged were bank tellers, retail workers, and waiters, the very people we trust every day with our credit cards in person.

Of the $13 million stolen, almost none of it occurred in online transactions. Almost all the thefts came from old-fashioned uses of credit cards: handing a card to a waiter or store clerk or bank employee.

There is an old fallacy that claims using credit cards online is dangerous. The recent news now proves the opposite: online use of credit cards is now much safer than using credit cards in person in a restaurant, store, or bank. Most thieves steal credit card numbers from in-person use, not from online transactions.

Online credit card transactions with VISA, MasterCard, Discover Card, or American Express are always insured in the U.S., so no one would have lost money even if the theft had occurred from online use.

You can read more in an online article by Robert McMillan of IDG News Service available here