Evidently, not all identity theft occurs because of a mistake made by the victim.
Granbury resident Madison Bradley II said his Social Security check apparently was re-routed by a change of address made by telephone early this month through a bank in Georgia.
“They would not tell me the address,” he said. “I was told to go to the local Social Security office and they could give me answers. They told me to call the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), and to change all my numbers.
“Why you don’t have to go to the Social Security office in person and present a photo ID (to make changes in personal information), that’s a mystery to me.”
Bradley, 67, said on Monday that he reported the incident to the Granbury Police Department. He still isn’t sure how his personal information was stolen.
“They got my mother’s maiden name, where I was born,” Bradley said. “(They) stole my ID either off my computer or (from) my trash. They called Social Security and gave them all my information – and there were no red flags. It’s rampant, according to what they told me.”
The former rock ‘n’ roll roadie – a colorful, lovable character known to friends as “Texas Redd Dog” – is upset and disillusioned about the intrusion.
“It’s like a cloud is over you,” Bradley said. “I didn’t sleep Wednesday night or Thursday night. I won’t ever be the same because I won’t trust nobody anymore.”
Bradley said he drove to the Social Security office in Cleburne in hopes of resolving the problem.
“I asked about changing my Social Security number, and they said they can’t do that. So, in essence, my Social Security number is worth nothing now. They told me they put a security tab on my account to prevent that from happening again.”
Bradley said he was told that this type of identity theft is becoming “rampant.”
“The lady at the Social Security office said that there had been six others in there that same day with the same problem,” Bradley said.
Bradley said that in late September he authorized an automatic payment to his satellite television provider for the first time. He said he suspects that may have something to do with his information being compromised.
Bradley said that he is dead set against using a debit card, and won’t be making any payments online – which he wasn’t doing anyway before the incident, other than the one recent new automatic withdrawal authorization.
“I’ll pay by money order or check or cash,” Bradley said.
Although he was eventually told by the Social Security office that he should receive a replacement check sometime this week, he’s still riled up and vowed he would get to the bottom of the mystery.
“I’m going to find my money,” Bradley said.
It’s starting to seem that a new scam or scheme to separate you from your money – or steal your private information and identity – is hatched every minute.
Some of the most common scams currently making the rounds, according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and information provided by the Hood County Sheriff’s Office are:
Jobs – Fake employment opportunities are offered, but the victim must fill out a “credit report” or give banking information for direct deposit of “paychecks.” That personal information is then stolen, and there was no job in the first place.
Sweepstakes – Victims are told they have won a prize or money, but must first send a smaller amount of money in order to claim it.
Computers – Offers sometimes convince people that they need to have a virus removed from their computer. Not only could the claim be false, the crooks could end up installing unwanted or harmful items on your hard drive without your knowledge.
Phishing/Facebook – While online, if you are urged to click on a link or attachment, it could end up infecting your computer and make you vulnerable to the crooks. Crooks use news-feed tricks on Facebook, offering things such as a way to learn who has been viewing your page. Some of these questionable links prompt the user to “upgrade your Flash player,” but the file actually contains a worm that logs into your social media account, sends similar messages to your friends and searches for your personal information. Smart phones are also at risk to hackers.
Home-improvement – Legitimate companies, such as Western Union and Craig’s List, are being used by many scam artists. First, crooks will send a check for more than your asking price for an item. Then they tell the victim to send them the difference through Western Union. “A deposited check takes a couple of days to clear, whereas wired money is gone instantly,” the BBB website says. “When the original check bounces, you are out whatever money you wired.”
Interest rates – Scammers offer lower interest rates on credit cards, which end up costing hundreds of dollars. The victim ends up surrendering vital personal information to the crooks.
Insurance – While the initial offer is for insurance, it turns out to be a discount card that requires a fee paid in advance.
Sound-alikes – Victims are contacted and told that the message is from a government agency, a nonprofit agency or even the BBB itself.
IRS – Crooks send you an email that says it’s from the Internal Revenue Service, and that someone else has already stolen your personal information.
The Sheriff’s Office emphasized these two important tips that could help you avoid a potentially devastating scam or identity theft incident:
Hang up on any unsolicited caller who asks for your personal identity details such as your Social Security number, bank account number, date of birth or other private data.
While online, don’t click on questionable links. Don’t accept unsolicited offers to “clean” your computer of viruses.
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