What possesses folks to steal credit cards when they know how easy and likely it is to get caught? Here are some recent doozies that have even us asking, “Huh?”
Did you know credit card and identity theft is the number one consumer complaint to the Federal Trade Commission? Worse, it’s kept the top spot for twelve consecutive years. Every state reports increasing numbers, too. In South Carolina, identity theft or credit card theft account for 15% of the entire state’s crimes. Worse, the FTC says the true numbers are difficult to gauge since many consumers don’t report it. They’re concerned they’ll look irresponsible, even though that’s not even remotely the case.
What was surprising to us was that tax season seems to bring out the fraudsters in droves. Many take temporary jobs in various income tax preparation businesses, which, of course, allows for more thana ample opportunity for those thieves able to get hired. Nationwide, 24% of all identity theft complaints are filed in the weeks prior to the traditional April 15th tax date.
Of course, we hear about these cases all the time – they’re as regular in the evening news as the weather report.
Each day, as we closely monitor the goings-on in the credit card sector, we get a few surprising stories of theft. None are funny, of course, and certainly not for the victims. But whether it’s an elected official who’s brought before his Board of Supervisors to answer to questionable charges on the county credit card or just dumb criminals who woke up that day convinced they could outsmart technology, law enforcement and the universe (like the woman who used a stolen credit card to pay her lawyers fees for a pending court case where she was accused of theft), there’s always a degree of arrogance and, well, frankly, stupidity. It’s not limited to thieves, though. Some companies are unwittingly compromising their own clients’ information.
Here are some of the more recent attempts.
Oh, Susan. Boulder Colorado was the scene of this credit card take down. A woman was shooting pool with several friends when another woman approached the group and introduced herself as Susan. Hours later, Susan and the first woman’s purse went missing. The only problem is, there are dozens of photos from various cameras in several stores. Her face is planted everywhere, including her purchase of liquor that same night after she’d left the bar. So far, and despite her face being planted over flyers and the local TV stations, she’s yet to be captured.
Credit Cards to Gift Cards
One thief believes he can eliminate the paper trail, or at least, cause police to run in circles. This thief first struck near Boston, where he stole many credit cards from area residents. He then traveled the entire East coast, where he bought many gift cards. From there, he used the gift cards to buy everything from fuel for his car to an expensive watch. On the surveillance video in one jewelry store, he was ordered by police to stop, but he decided to make a run for it. He forgot his new watch though – the one that now has his fingerprints on it. If that weren’t enough, he too has been spotted in many area video footage.
If you think Microsoft had the bases covered when it comes to compromising personal information, the recent scandal that began in India certainly proved otherwise. You might recall the Microsoft Store in India was compromised a few weeks ago. Microsoft immediately went on the defense and said the cases were isolated and that it was a “limited compromise”. It sent out information to its customers with how to better protect themselves. It said its engineers were working double time to ensure the breach was temporary and could never happen again. Then it happened again.
This week, and barely two weeks following the Indian compromise, Microsoft was hacked yet again. This time, its presser sounded a bit more urgent. Its statement read, in part,
If you ever used to credit card to shop at the Microsoft Online store in India, it may be a good idea to stop everything you’re doing and call your bank to get your credit card blocked.
It then went on to explain every bit of those consumers’ private information “could become available in the underground market”. Looks as though the computer giant has a bit of bad publicity on its hands.