The object of
scam letters and scam email is not just to get you to send
the scammers money for false reasons, but to obtain your
identity. This is accomplished both by asking you personal
identity questions and by downloading spyware and viruses
(Trojan Horses) onto your hard drive when you open their
Very, very little
personal information is required for a personal information
harvester to fill in the blanks.
Some scammers then
take whatever information they have harvested from you and
your hard drive and enter the information into "detective"
software easily available on the Internet. Those who know
what they are doing can obtain your Social Security Number
or National ID information, plus property information - real
estate, car, boat, motorcycle, etc.
Everything you do
on the Internet is automatically stored on your hard drive
for the hackers to steal with their malware, including all
your usernames and passwords, purchase information such as
credit cards and e-checks, access to your online banking,
email address books, etc.
Even if the emails
you are opening do not contain any malicious code, when you
open the email a receipt is sent to the scammer. He or she
now has your IP address and the malware is off and running
at your computer.
Once they have
your email address, it is sold into scammer mailing lists.
Your inbox will begin filling with scam emails and Spam.
Once they have
your physical address, it is sold into scammer mailing
lists. You may receive fake lottery winning notifications,
other solicitations, loan offers, and counterfeit checks
and/or money orders.
Here is the list
of what you must do:
Cease all correspondence
with the scammers IMMEDIATELY. (What
to do if you are receiving threatening phone calls or
Change all your
passwords. Keep a record of your passwords off line.
Run both your anti-spyware
and anti-virus programs on deep clean, which means all
files and folders. Do this regularly, once a week at
the very least.
Internet Explorer browsers:
Go to Tools > Internet Options > General (this is the
first tab) > Cookies: Delete. CAUTION: if your browser
is set to remember your passwords, they will be gone;
however, your Home setting may remain, as well as
cookies for those pages you view most frequently. This
Tools (continued) - click
on each tab and review the contents. For instance, you
may want to reconsider the amount of information you
have stored in your Profile and in your AutoComplete
options. Do not change any of the settings in the
Advanced section without advisement.
Netscape and other browsers
- most browsers have Internet Options in one of the pull
down menus in your browser; if you cannot find the
button, please refer to your browser's Help file usually
located to the far right of the browser toolbar.
Windows users: You can also
follow the same directions by clicking on Start >
Control Panel > Security Center (or similar term,
depending on your version) > Internet Options.
If you use PayPal, BidPay,
or any online funds transfer system (other than your
online banking), see if you can close the accounts and
open new ones since they are attached to either your
bank account or one of your credit cards.
If you use credit cards to
make online purchases or to load an online pay system,
contact the credit card issuer (see the phone number on
the back of each card) and ask for new numbers. You
should do this regularly anyway.
If you do online banking,
monitor your account once a week at the very least and
immediately report any unauthorized activity. NOTE: Be
sure to view each transaction you consider to be
unauthorized against any recent purchases that may be
appearing on your statement under a different name. For
example, you purchased a monthly service named XYZ News
Service which is being billed to you by something called
Online banking (continued)
- If your bank account is used by scammers for illicit
purposes, such as depositing money in your account
without your permission, or transferring funds from your
account without your permission, contact your bank
IMMEDIATELY. If your personal funds are transferred out
of your account without your knowledge or permission,
those funds will be returned to your account. You will
not lose the money. If funds are transferred into your
account without your knowledge or permission, contact
your bank IMMEDIATELY. Your account is being used by
scammers for money laundering and you could be held
If you sent a copy of any
of the following to the scammers, contact the issuing
agency and ask for a new document if possible. If you
cannot obtain a new identity document, ask that the one
you have been assigned be Fraud-flagged. NOTE: This
means that should you be stopped and asked to produce
your current identity document, you will need to produce
additional forms of identification to prove that you are
the authorized carrier.
Security Card (fraud-flag)
Any other form
of identification issued by a government agency
If you sent a copy of your
Birth Certificate to the scammers, you must inform local
law enforcement immediately and get it on record that
you filed a report. This won't be easy without actual
evidence of stolen identity activity, in other words,
that a crime has been committed. Your Birth Certificate
may never be used, but don't count on it.
and get a copy of each of your credit
reports. Monitor them on a regular basis. NOTE: You do
not need to monitor your credit reports monthly unless
you really want to. Consider your needs before signing
up for monthly service. However, if you know you are
already an ID Theft victim, then monthly reports are
Credit reports (continued)
- should you discover unauthorized activity on one of
your reports, please keep in mind that you must contact
all 3 agencies individually with the information. The
credit reporting agencies do not communicate and compare
If the scammers send you
any checks or money orders, DO NOT CASH THEM, DO NOT
DEPOSIT THEM. They
be stolen, forged, or counterfeit and you could go to
jail for taking them to the bank or a check cashing
facility. Write VOID in your language of residence
across the front and take them and the envelope to the
police. Read this:
How to Really Verify a
Check or Money Order.