Case study on a recent Identity Theft Incident

You’d think your bank, your mobile phone communications provider and other companies that have you as a customer would be helpful and attentive. Perhaps not.

Beware – your exposure is highest just before a public holiday or a long weekend? Why? Because everybody’s away on holiday or there are limited services/contact possible with your bank and your telco and this gives hackers the longest possible window to maximise the opportunity.

In Australia the Police / Fraud squad can help. Report the incident immediately to them and they will open up a case and give you a case number. This will help when you contact your bank and your Telco.

But beware – even though Police / Fraud squad will do everything they can to help – they are not funded to work on your case alone 24 by 7. They have many cases, and will only pursue the most serious fraud cases that are also likely to end up in catching the crooks. So the Police will in most cases be well behind the crooks if they are active on your case at all. Hackers and thieves know and rely on that.

Our esteemed politicians do not deem it necessary to fund the Fraud Squad to work outside business hours on catching the crooks. The Fraud Squad can work overtime but only in specific cases. So the hackers have the advantage.

Lesson 1. Secure your mobile phone bills. It’s very easy to port your mobile phone to another provider – that’s the beginning. Do not use your mobile phone for authentication. It is too easily misplaced, lost, stolen or ported across. And if your mobile falls into the hands of an experienced hacker you are in big trouble.

Lesson 2. Use an email provider that provides a contact number and 24 by 7 customer services. If you are using gmail or hotmail – good luck finding anybody to help you … Pay a monthly fee – you get what you pay for.

Lesson 3. Rely on nobody. Telco’s will send you new mobile number and PIN to the hackers (the compromised email address) and then they will try to blame you. Document everything. Record every conversation (remember by law you have to inform people you are doing so), take names, and pictures of every piece of evidence. Create your own case file.

Lesson 4. You can’t rely on your bank either. I was never able to exceed the funds available in my account using my debit credit card – transactions were always declined due to insufficient funds. And yet the hackers/thieves managed to run a negative balance exceeding $20,000- in this case even after the customer informed the bank and all accounts were supposed to be frozen.

Watch this space for full story ..

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