By Private Investigator – Kevin D. Bousquet
While I admit to joining the klan of facebook.com I find the site very dangerous in the way of personal privacy and people should be very concerned and warned.
I have written articles and even did a tv show on how impersonation is out of control. People who have had their lives destroyed because someone got a hold of their personal information and applied for credit in their name.
I interviewed a lady on my tv show who woke up one morning to a collection agency phone call. She discovered that someone impersonated her identity and managed to purchase two houses in her name in Gretzky’s home town of Brantford Ontario. She had no idea that someone had used her identity by applying for credit in her name. It took years for her to get her life back.
Yet people who register on facebook post their name and their date of birth right out in the open for anyone to see.
Many on facebook will argue they use their privacy settings and only close friends see personal information. This is great for those who actually use their privacy settings.
There are networks after networks of interest groups that allow people who you may not directly know to see your personal information. They are allowed to see it because your privacy settings have allowed people in the same network to see your personal data.
Many assume because they have an interest in common with someone, skiing, music, church, city events that a person in that network is not going to compromise their data. Do you really know everyone in your network?
Yet bigger city networks like “Toronto” or joining a network where in the city where you reside can be a great place for would be fraudsters to take your personal information and apply for credit.
Your Name & Date of Birth is all it takes
People need to realise that all it takes is your name and date of birth to steal your identity.
Facebook A Great Place To Harvest
The word to be aware of is “harvesting”. Right now I can go on facebook and within less that an hour I can harvest names and dates of birth of dozens after dozens of people. If I really tried I could probaby average 100 names and dates of birth in an hour. People who I don’t know, who are not in any network.
Personal data out in the open makes you vulnerable to attack by fraudsters to get your data to apply for credit in your name. Problem is people don’t realise just how bad the problem is. There is no recourse, you’re on your own trying to clean up your life if you’re impersonated. Don’t expect the police to do it for you and don’t expect that the fraudster will actually get caught. Act proactive rather then reacting to a crisis later.
Impersonation fraud is the biggest growing crime on a world wide level. If you have a home you could also be a victim of mortgage fraud or have your house sold right from under you with the aid of the data you gave up on facebook.com
Teenagers and children are the best targets. Kids who have not yet established credit ratings. A nice clean name, date of birth and address is all a fraudster needs to start applying for credit in your child’s name.
The Federal Trade Commission just did a warning to the public that over 400,000 children and have already had their identity stolen and many don’t even know it yet. This will include teenagers.
If your address is posted all the better. If they get a hold of your Social Insurance Number or Social Security Number you’re done like dinner you may never get your life back.
You’ll spend years trying to clean up your credit rating convincing creditors and collection agencies that you’re you and not the fraudster who managed to swindle thousands from banks and credit agencies using your name.
There was just a news article recently where a victim of impersonation was reported dead to the government, yet he was alive and well. He spent months just trying to convince the government he was not dead and his problems continue.
You could find the IRS or Revenue Canada knocking on your door or even the police or perhaps immigration.
The answers to virtually all verification questions asked by a bank or credit agency to prove you are you can be answered on facebook.com
Let’s start with the most common question that all credit card companies ask to verify you? “What’s your mother’s maiden name”? Your dog’s name, where did you attend school. Your previous addresses. Take a look at the verification questions used by web based email services like hotmail.com when you sign up. Many of these questions could be answered by looking on facebook.com.
There may be those who may want to use your name and date of birth to commit a crime or get a job when they don’t have status to work in the country.
Ask yourself could someone easily recreate your resume from facebook depending on the information you posted?
I am fascinated by those who post their resume. Where you went to school, what degrees you have, your past jobs, your marital status. Your interests, where you volunteer, you associations and degrees. Even your religious beliefs.
What about child predators seeking to hurt and exploit children. People continue to post pictures of their children, some have posted where they go to school or daycare and even what time they are picked up. Your toddler could even be at risk.
The security risks to openly
posted personal data are endless.
If you give away too much personal information your jugglar vein is exposed waiting for the kill. If you’re impersonated there are only two things in the world that can prove you’re you. Your DNA and your fingerprints. You’ll spend a lifetime trying to get your life back.
Be careful what personal information you give up on any website.
Kevin Bousquet is a Private Investigator and President of Corpa Investigation www.corpa.com a 17 year old firm specialising in fraud investigation.
He has his own tv show on Persona Cable which can be seen on the internet at http://www.resourceschannel.com/programs-undercover.html