Identity theft: It's not about you

Tuesday, 26 August 2003, 12:17 AM EST

Technology is a real time-saver for criminals. They can scam thousands of less-savvy Internet users by sending legitimate-looking PayPal or AOL queries. Mail promising recipients incredible mortgage rates must rake in piles of Social Security numbers, driver's license numbers, and bank account information. The height of criminal gall was the message I received earlier this month. It warned that some of my Internet provider's customers had been victims of identity theft, and I was directed to a well-crafted Web site ostensibly set up by my provider. I checked it out through a cloaking gateway. The site walked me through a maze of harmless questions and "please wait -- checking our records" delays to gain my trust, then it asked for my SSN for account verification.

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