Identity Theft: The Truth
My name is Tom Wessex.
Not my real name, of course. Just the name of the last person whose identity I stole.
Hey pretty girl on the train to work. You don’t know me. My name is Tom Wessex. Not my real name, of course. Just the name of the last person whose identity I stole.
You may not know to look at me but behind my smile is an agenda that will lead you to ruin. I see a bit of a smile on your face. That’s probably because you don’t have any idea of what is about to happen.
Nice security pass. That’s a lovely name, Kate Dalesford. Normally the photos on these things are rubbish. Not so with yours. How on earth did you manage that?
Must be awesome to work at Oztelecom in the city. Hear they’ve been doing well this year. If i’m not mistaken, your office is about 10 stations from here. Plenty of time to do my thing.
Yep, that’s definitely you. You are wearing that same Swarovski necklace again today.
I see you are on LinkedIn. Nice one. Sounds like you’re kicking goals. Senior Account Exec. Bet that’s a nice salary. Your last job at Veritel looked pretty exciting too. Makes sense that you should stick to the same industry.
Really? You’re how young? That’s almost younger than me. Almost the same star sign too. ‘81 was quite a year.
Checking out your Facebook now. The photo is a bit Instagram-like and I take a quick glance over to where you are sitting. Yep, that’s definitely you. You are wearing that same Swarovski necklace again today. Surprised a hottie like you doesn’t have a private profile. The party last weekend looked fun. The one on left would be my choice but then all three of your friends have appeal.
Kudos to Mark Z. for his valuable contribution to my business. Without Facebook to expediate the compromising of your personal info, it would take me a lot longer to get to know you. I would probably need to resort to digging through your garbage.
ALL YOUR PHOTOS ARE GEOTAGGED TOO.
THAT LOOKS LIKE A NICE NEIGHBOURHOOD.
Checking in everywhere I see? Awesome. Oh and pictures of your new place. Snapped with your iPhone I’m guessing? The one you’re holding now? Your photos are geotagged too. That looks like a nice neighbourhood.
Google Maps and Streetview puts you at Number 79. Looks lovely. Judging by the cached listings on several real estate sites, you must be renting it at about $500 a week. I’ve heard the managing estate agents are lousy with their maintenance requests. Tough break.
Back to Facebook. Ah, there is a Prince Charming. Hello, Dave. You guys have been in a relationship for the last 14 months. Still going strong. Top effort, mate.
I have another glance over. You are smiling about something on your phone. I wonder if that’s a naughty message from Dave. Her body language suggests that it could well be the case. Can’t blame the man for his tastes or apparent wit. +10 for you, guy.
You may as well have your phone number printed on your blouse, which looks great on you, by the way.
Four stations have passed. I’ve got both your names and suburb let’s see if we can find your number in Whitepages. Yep there you are. Probably should have paid for a silent number. You may as well have your phone number printed on your blouse, which looks great on you, by the way. The blouse, not the phone number.
If I can get close enough to read the top of the iPhone you are using, I can get the carrier you are with. Unsurprisingly, it’s Oztelecom. Makes sense considering you work for them. Still, the fewer assumptions we can make, the better.
I already know a lot about you and we’ve only just met. That’s about as much as I can get from you, face to face. There’ll be a cafe nearby with WiFi that I can do the rest of my investigation. Seven stations from where you got on, I disembark and let you enjoy the rest of your trip to work. Have a wonderful day.
This afternoon, I will make a couple more calls to get some more details. I’ll leverage the information gleaned from those calls to expose more of your information from further calls.
Hacking call centre operators is much easier than hacking computers. Plus, they tend to brighten up an otherwise a pretty lonely day with cheerful banter.
I’ll also make sales call later on tonight as a sales representative of your phone company. I know enough about your handset and personal details to pull it off convincingly. When I get you to confirm your identity, I’ll be able to obtain and confirm several more pieces of information. Mobile number, email address, etc.
When I’ve got all I need, I’ll make up an excuse about computer errors preventing me for helping you further. I’ll offer to have another sales guy call you. (They won’t.) You won’t suspect anything because most companies never actually call back anyway.
In fact, each new piece of information makes my job even easier to compromise even more of your private data.
Your power company or favorite online store will help me out with the last 4 digits of your credit card. In turn, this will assist me to prove my identity to your bank. Other companies you deal with will happily hand over more of your information. Especially if I tell them a sob story.
You see, I gain many small pieces of information that individually, seem inconsequential. In fact, each new piece of information makes my job even easier to compromise even more of your private data. But once consolidated, the picture of you that I see is actually more comprehensive than you can fathom.
The pieces of information I gather are like jigsaw pieces. As I gather more of the pieces, the puzzle takes shape and a picture emerges of what your life is really like.
The younger man pictured bears a striking resemblance to a prior mark. Same jawline, I think. Girl is definitely out of his league though.
Once I can make account changes, I can report your phone as stolen and change the number on your account to defeat the two-factor authentication. I can also change your online banking password if I need to.
If I need to cover up the fact that I’ve had to change your password, I’ll spoof an email from your service provider to you with your new random password. It will go to the legitimate site and will look like the real deal so you won’t think anything of it.
By the end of the day, I will know pretty much all there is to know about you. How much money you have, where you keep it and what you spend it on. I’ll know which companies know you and what information they have.
I’ll have enough information to apply for loans and credit cards in your name. You needn’t worry if I take your money because your bank will likely reimburse you for the loss incurred. They’ll have a difficult time trying to prove negligence as you haven’t technically been sloppy with your privacy. After all, you’ve only done what everyone else has been doing.
If I was the particular nasty sort, I could do worse than simply taking your money. Fortunately, I’m not like that. But there are people with my skillset that are. I really hope you don’t come across one of them. You seem really nice.
I just want you to know that it’s nothing personal. It’s just how I make my living. My name is Kate Dalesford and I’m an identity thief.