With the widespread advent of computers and portable devices, identity theft is at an all time high. Just ask Dan DeFelippi, and he’ll tell you about his stint as a credit card and identity thief. From 2001 to 2004, DeFelippi specialized in credit card fraud. DeFelippie pilfered more than $210,000 using stolen credit cards and was involved in other illegal activities.
When DeFelippi was finally apprehended in December of 2004, he worked with the secret service for two years, teaching them everything he knew about the “business” and ultimately, how to apprehend more offenders like him. In return, he only served two weeks in jail, was on probation for three years, and paid back $210,000 in restitution. He now works as a freelance web developer and web security consultant.
Learning From The Pro
Below are his tips for making sure you do not fall prey to identity thieves and online scams.
- Don’t carry your social security card, PINs, or other private data in your wallet. Good old theft is still the #1 cause of credit card fraud and ID theft.
- Shred anything with account numbers, SSN, and other vulnerable info.
- Refrain from giving out your Social Security number as much as possible. Don’t put it on a form unless it’s 100% required and you trust the company.
- Use LastPass or another password manager to keep track of all your passwords. Never reuse passwords!
- Use fake security Q&As for sites that require them. Your mother’s maiden name, hometown, etc., are pretty easy to figure out.
- Be vigilant. Check your bank accounts and credit cards at least once a week. Check your credit at least once a year. You can receive your credit report for free from AnnualCreditReport.com. This is a government-backed site, so you can feel secure to enter your information on their site.
- If you need to pay for something online use credit cards instead of debit cards. Debit cards take money out of your bank account instantly. If someone steals your credit card, it’s usually not a big deal. You fill out some forms and they refund your money. If someone steals your debit card and takes money out of your account, you will be out of cash until the bank can recover those funds for you.
Staying On The Up & Up of Things
If there is one rule to follow here it’s to be aware of who you give your information to and for what purpose. Too many people are easily fooled by online scams and fake offers because of simple carelessness. DeFelippi may have paid his dues, but there are thousands of other individuals out there looking to make you their next victim, so keep your eyes open and your wallet closed as much as possible.
In a bit of an ironic twist, DeFelippi closed one of his interviews with the following tip; “Most importantly, stop worrying! There are more important things to worry about in your life. If your credit card gets stolen you’ll get your money back.”
Photo Credit: devdsp via Flickr