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Aug-03-2006 23:33printcomments

Businesses And Governmental Agencies Contribute to The Identity Theft Problem

A few facts you may not know about identity theft.

ID theft image
Image courtesy: USPS

(SALEM) - Most people think of an identity thief as an unemployed drug-crazed “Methhead” who steals your personal information from your home, car, mail, garbage or computer. This statement is only partially true.

The relationship between methamphetamine and identity theft is true. Over 90% of the persons I arrest for fraud or identity theft are involved with methamphetamine. I believe this arrest statistic would be true anywhere in the United States.

I recently talked with a person in prison who had been the mastermind of a major identity theft ring operating throughout Oregon. I asked him about of the relationship between “meth” and the people who commit identity theft. He told me, “They are as husband and wife.”

The myth that most personal information is stolen directly from the victim is not true. A national study showed that 70% of all stolen personal information is taken from a business. I have found that personal information is easily stolen from businesses because of bad employees or poor business practices in protecting banking or personal information.

It is common for me to arrest an identity thief who has stolen victim profiles while working for a private business or governmental agency. I am currently conducting such an investigation.


Many businesses and government agencies do not do background checks on persons they hire. This practice includes not doing a background check on a person who will have access to personal information of customers, clients or employees.

Some private businesses and government agencies have knowingly, or unknowing, hired convicted felons. I know of felons who have been hired by both private businesses and government agencies, even though they have been arrested or convicted of fraud or identity theft.

Some businesses and government agencies allow employees to take home laptop computers with customer or employee databases on them. Some of the laptops are stolen out of the employee’s car or from their home.

Many businesses have few or inadequate controls in place to prevent theft of personal information by employees or persons breaking into the business. Many do not enforce the controls that are in place.

Even with all the publicity, there are still businesses that throw into the trash the personal information of their customers or contacts. Every night there are “dumpster divers” in the trash behind businesses looking for information and credit card receipts.

Some businesses still use unlocked mailboxes for their incoming and outgoing mail. It is common for mail thieves to check mailboxes first thing in the morning and just after delivery.

ADVICE to Businesses and Government Agencies:

• A criminal history and background check should be done on all employees who handle money or have access to the personal information of others.

• If employees are allowed to take laptop computers out of the office or to their home, and the computer contains any sensitive or personal information of others, there should be strict guidelines as to how the computer is be secured when not at the office. In addition, and most importantly, the information should be encrypted, not just password-protected, to reduce the impact if it is lost or stolen.

• Develop and strictly enforce security protocol for all banking and personal information maintained. Have a plan of action to notify victims if a breach occurs.

• Shred all paperwork that contains sensitive or personal information.

• Never use an unlocked mailbox for incoming or outgoing mail.

• Have the capability to review computer logs of all inquires or viewing of banking and personal information databases.

• Password protect all computers in the workplace.

• Relatively inexpensive encryption software is available. The upcoming “Vista”operating system from Microsoft is supposed to include some new encryption capabilities.

• If you deal with a business, ask them about their security protocol regarding personal information and whether they share that information with anyone. Ask them if they do background checks on employees who have access to your personal information.

• Ask the same questions of your local, state and federal government agencies.

• The FTC is a great resource. They have current information about Identity Theft. The FTC’s website concerning Identity Theft can be found at www.creditscore.net/additional-resources/fight-identity-theft/.

Side Note: Did you know that if you call the Oregon DMV information call center using the published number, there is a good chance you will be talking with an Inmate (convicted felon) at the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility (prison) in Wilsonville? This is part of the State of Oregon prisoner work plan. You won’t be told you’re talking to a prisoner unless you ask.

They have computer access to some of your personal information. DMV officials have told me they have set up strictly enforced protocols to prevent prisoners from using the system to commit identity theft.

Related Articles on Salem-News.com:

Fraud Tip #1 Mail Theft: salem-news.com/articles/february42006/police_tip1.php

Fraud Tip #2: Telephone Scams: salem-news.com/articles/march222006/Police_Tip_32206.php

Police tip #3: Overpayment Scam: salem-news.com/articles/february132006/policetip3.php

Police Tip #4: "419" Nigerian Chat Room Scams: salem-news.com/articles/february152006/policetip4.php

Police Tip #5 Salem Police Warning About Vehicle Sale Overpayment Check Scam: salem-news.com/articles/june172006/Police_Tips_61406.php


Internal Comments are Closed on this story.

INDEPENDENT Associate PPLSI August 4, 2006 8:11 pm (Pacific time)

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER !!! The above posting by Clancy about Identity Theft Protection. CONTRARY TO THE STATEMENT< MAYBE IT WAS NOT INTENTIONALLY MISWORDED TO MISLEAD or imply what is NOT TRUE. However, NEITHER KROLL nor Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. has ANYTHING to do with the above website. It is a lead generation website to capture the information that you leave to SELL YOU a membership. Clancy is apparently an INDEPENDENT associate of Pre-Paid Legal Services and should have been trained and know better than to say, let alone publicly POST IN WRITING that Attorney Generals own the service to protect themselves. As CURRENT government employees they have signed contracts and conflict of interest agreements to NOT ENDORSE any product by name or company. THEY MIGHT SAY a generic service or industry is a good idea, but not endorse a service by product or company. I've owned a FAMILY Pre-Paid Legal Services membership for over 22 years and also am an independent associate. You can see what is offered at *********************** without having to talk to an associate. You can enroll in minutes as a resident of any state except Montana at this time. In most states, except Alaska, you can also enroll in a family legal plan that works hand and hand with the Identity coverage. # 1. No coverage can protect you to prevent "ALL" ID THEFT, so the BIG DIFFERENCE is do they do virtually all the work to RESTORE your identity ... or do they just "advise" you how to DO-IT-YOURSELF with an average of over 600 hours to restore it yourself !!! # 2: Who are the EXPERTS and how long has the company been in business? Kroll's credentials and their history of cases that they can talk about will impress you. BOTH Kroll and PPLSI are over 33 year old publicly traded companies !!! # 3. Do they cover the spouse and significant other for one LOW monthly price? # 4. DOES THE COMPANY DO A PRO-active search of local and national data bases to see if criminals are using your name, SSN, or other personal info. Some companies only do a search AFTER an identity theft has been discovered by other means. This is like not running a ships radar to save electricity and other costs until it's confirmed that the ship has hit something else like a ship or ground ... to save money and confirm the collision. MOST COMPANIES PERFORM NO CHECKS. # 4. Many companies fail and are out of business or no longer offering that service or product in 12 to 36 months. which is more likely to be there for you many years in the future, a brand new company with limited assets, or two 33 year old publicly traded companies with substantial assets? # 5. Is the coverage all forms of personal identity theft except by relatives, or just to protect a single credit card, loan, or bank account??? # 6. I base buying decisions on the facts that I read, not who else owns a product or service, even if it's a movie star, governor, Attorney General, or the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. Isn't that the way you do it and the way it should be done? (No, I'm not IMPLYING anyone famous own this coverage. ) # 7. Is the coverage from one or all of the three credit repositories AKA credit bureaus but under another marketing company's name , or a totally separate company to avoid a possible" conflict of interest" when ADVOCATING and pushing to get your records cleared or corrected ??? KNOWLEDGE IS POWER !!! Best wishes, Joe

Marilee Veniegas August 4, 2006 6:01 pm (Pacific time)

Identity theft is a serious issue - government and businesses need to safeguard their customers/clients databases and records. Detective Henninger's point that "70% of all stolen personal information is taken from a business," is a sad truth. Business need to acknowledge that loosing a laptop is more than the $1,500 machine

Albert Marnell August 4, 2006 5:22 am (Pacific time)

Here is a story where the police (detective) knows what he is talking about. So many people tell me I hate the police. Not when they know their stuff like Salem Police Detective PAUL HENNINGER. GREAT WORK PAUL! GIVE THE MAN A CIGAR!

Clancy August 4, 2006 12:15 am (Pacific time)

I have Identity Theft Protection that I found after extensive research. In fact Attorney Generals have this service for their own protection. It is managed by the worlds leading risk management company, Kroll Background America. They do monitoring and also restoration if you do become a victim. It gives me peace of mind to know that I am protected and I also can raise awareness and offer others protection as well.

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