Friday, August 28, 2009

ID Thieves Bag Bernanke: Is No One Safe?

“You’ve got to be kidding,” I said to my wife. “Incredulous. The Chairman of the Federal Reserve is the victim of Identity Theft. According to the Associated Press story, thieves got Bernanke to the tune of $2.1 million and the fraud involved at least 10 financial institutions.”

“Guess he didn’t have Identity Theft Shield, huh?”

I knew she was going to say that. I wanted her to say just that. As an Independent Associate of Pre-Paid Legal myself, I tell people all the time about their risk. But, people are people and they say what they say, like “my bank takes care of that” and “my credit card company covers me.” If that is what they want to believe and it works for them, great.

However, my banker and I had a chat when I opened Tommy Mack Organization LLC and it turned out that she has Pre-Paid Legal coverage as an employee benefit through her employer, or Financial Institution as they prefer. She had declined to take the Identity Theft Shield protection at the time she enrolled.

She got a letter from the IRS that claimed my banker owned them income tax on unclaimed wages. It came to be discovered that her ID was stolen and used by someone else to get work. She said that the FBI told her it could take 2 to 3 years to straighten it out. And just about everyone knows someone who has been a victim.

Back to the Bernanke case, the AP story quotes Brian Lapidus, “an identity theft expert with Kroll Fraud Solutions said it's not unusual to hear of high-ranking officials caught up by identity theft. His firm has worked with celebrities, senators and others who have been victims.” That company provides the PPD Identity Theft Shield product I recommend to my clients and friends.

The story also reports in small details the fastest growing ID Theft scheme – the synthetic person. “The scheme involved using stolen IDs, bank records, personal checks and other items to impersonate victims at bank branches, according to an affidavit signed by Postal Inspector William J. Aiello,” the article said.

How could organized crime be anything if not thrilled by ID theft? Other than plastic cards, what inventory is there in sets of numbers? It is impersonally personal as crimes go and a growing menace by all accounts.

There are other pretenders to ID theft solution; but they do not do what Kroll and Pre-Paid Legal Services can do – like have professional, licensed investigators go after the perpetrators. Go to my PPD website and look. PPD has been in business since 1972 and is publically traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

It would be an easy target to blame the credit card industry for facilitating ID Theft. It would be easy to suggest that the industry is actually legalized crime, but I will address that later. In the mean time, the PBS series Frontline did a revealing story about credit cards you may be interested in seeing.

I am sorry that Mr. Bernanke got bagged in an ID theft. But, if he is not safe, who is?

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