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ID Theft Part 3 September 22, 2008

Filed under: Everything — Jason Olson @ 5:12 pm
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The sage continues – here is an update: The SSA reported that they have had my date of birth wrong since it was originally applied for back in early 1980. I always wondered why my SSN number was higher than people younger than me. Now I know, my parents applied for my SSN number well after I was born. Prior to the 80’s SSN were not issued by default at birth, however nowadays they are. Back then, you’d need to manually apply for them. Apparently a typographical error when my initial application was submitted resulted in an inaccurate date of birth.

What I found interesting, was that I needed to bring two forms of ID with me. However I immediately realized that all forms of ID are based solely on my birth certificate. Pretty scary.

Also, while in the process of dealing with other matters, I discovered that the bank (to no real surprise when you think about it) does not actually check your signature card for every check you write. They process millions of checks per day, so to manually check them against “your” signature would be too costly. So instead they do a couple of things, including spot check (randomly choose a couple of checks to compare) and then they use a more complex system of heuristics to calculate the probability of fraudulent activity, and then subject those checks to more scrutiny. So if you’re normally writing checks in the $500 to $1500 range, pretty regularly – and then a check for $15,000 comes across their desk, they may flag it for closer inspection – check the signature and may even call you — all before clearing the check. A similar system to the way the check for fraud with credit cards. What this means is that really anybody can sign a check for your account – name matching or not — you could even sign your own checks as Daffy Duck, and it will go through — so long as the merchant will accept the check from you and try to process it for payment. Which is just about your only form of security. Second only to what you should be doing every month — balancing your checkbook.

On the note of credit cards, if you didn’t realize, the merchants to not do anything with your signature when you make a purchase except to save it for future reference. It is up to you, as the credit holder, to balance your statements every month – make sure they’re valid. Say you find a charge you do not recognize, the merchant will be required to substantiate that you actually purchased the product – part of that will be the requirement for them to produce your original signed receipt.

That’s all for now. 🙂