It’s getting dangerous out there in the real world. Criminals are placing tiny little cameras the size of a dot above the keypad on some ATM machines. This enables them to record your pin when you enter it to make a withdrawal. Combined with some basic information collected in other ways, they can later withdraw your money for their own use. For example, when you use your credit card to make a purchase, you might be asked to show your driver’s license for identification. Now the wrong person may have quickly noted your address and date of birth. We’re in a deep recession and many people are desperate. The line drawn between the honest folks and the crooks is being crossed more and more frequently.
Not only is there increasing danger out there, but that line that separates the good guys from the bad is being crossed by some very devious individuals on the Internet. Take the popular online pastime called Twittering. Consider the potential trouble with Twitter. You send a brief question to a family member or friend. They respond with an equally short answer. The limit for each message is only 140 characters. This is called a tweet. The seemingly innocuous question asked thousands of times every hour on Twitter is, “What are you doing?”
Who would guess that a brief answer to such a simple question could expose you to identity theft? Believe it or not, if you’re answering it on Twitter, it just might.
How many innocent conversations have you had on Twitter that reveals your birthday? Of course, friends and family who tweet will send you a birthday message, which is the start of the trouble with Twitter. Your date of birth is a springboard for the identity thief to begin gathering all the information required to carry out his nefarious scheme.
Astonishingly, ten million individuals in America alone are targeted and successfully victimized each year by having their identity stolen. The crook can then take out a credit card in your name. Some incredibly bold impostors have marched into banks and taken out a loan using a stolen identity. Even with an experienced loan officer going over the paperwork, they often pull off the scam. If you have a spotless financial history, you (the phony you) are welcomed with open arms as a consumer. Approval is quickly stamped on your application.
One fine day an identity thief may pose as Lisa and send you a tweet asking, “What’s up dude?”
You automatically assume it’s a girl named Lisa who is a friend of yours. The next day, you get another tweet from Jason and your answer reveals that it’s your birthday. Day by day, the identity thief collects bits and pieces of information about you on Twitter and other social networks. Since it may never come up that it wasn’t the real Lisa or the real Jason to whom you mentioned your bank name or current address, you won’t have a clue that the same individual is impersonating each of them and compiling a file containing your financial information.
That’s the trouble with Twitter. You tweet often and seemingly about nothing important. Therefore it may never register that an identity thief is stalking you.
He or she opens a credit card in your name, rents a car, stays at hotels, has lobster dinners at five star restaurants plus acquires a new wardrobe of designer clothes to wear as she makes use of your good name. Then packing up the rental car full of the goodies purchased under your name, disappears.
The impostor gets the goodies and you get stuck with the bill at the end of the month. Congratulations! You became the newest member of the identity theft victim club with its membership of ten million.
You can get raving mad which does you no good, although it is certainly understandable due to the trouble with Twitter. You can attempt to straighten out the financial mess yourself (try telling a bill collector it wasn’t you who made all those purchases). Yeah sure, it’s not like they haven’t heard that excuse before. Finally, in a desperate attempt to regain your excellent credit rating (that is now trashed), you may resort to hiring an attorney. That’s one bill that no one but you will be responsible for paying.
All this trouble with Twitter is a huge price to pay for exchanging a few pleasantries online. Next time you may want to use your cell phone to ask the guy you saw five minutes earlier, “Whussup dude?”