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Identity Theft

Identity fraud tops the Federal Trade Commissionís list as the nationís fastest growing crime, registering 43% of last years 380,000 complaints. Many of these cases were perpetrated through the Internet. Affected companies include Bank of America, AOL, MSN, eBay, PayPal, and even the IRS.

The Bank of America scam came through email, asking the receiver to go to the website to verify their personal or financial information. When the enclosed email link is clicked, the receiver is taken off to a look alike website where they are asked to enter their name and account number.

Another fraudulent email tells AOL users that their credit card has been declined and they must supply a new credit card number within 24 hours or their account will be shut down.

Others have received an email from eBay. The Identity Theft Resource Center (www.idtheftcenter.org) posted the following email on their site:

Dear eBay Customer,
Your order has been completed and will be mailed within 24-48 hours. Your credit card has been charged $1460.50 for the following purchase...

( Micron Pentium III Computer )

Plus shipping and handling. If you feel that your credit card has been billed wrongly, please visit our site and fill out all the needed information to cancel the following order. http://ebayservices-cancelorder.cjb.net

Thank you,
eBay Services.

Those that responded to the eBay email were taken to a look alike site where their information was stolen.

Some people have received an email from the IRS stating that they are conducting an e-audit and that the recipient has 48 hours to supply their Social Security number and their bank account numbers. The IRS does not notify people of audit by email, nor do they conduct e-audits.

If you receive a suspicious request for personal or business information, call the company using their customer service number and verify the request. When you make payment or provide sensitive information, check the domain address. Look for https, instead of http, at the beginning of the web address. Be sure to always monitor your credit card and bank statements for suspicious charges.

If you feel you have been a victim of fraudulent scams, contact your local police and file a complaint with the FBI and the FTC.

You can also protect yourself with insurance. Farmers, Travelers and Chubb insurance are offering identity theft insurance for a nominal fee.