Since the indictment of 11 people yesterday in what is being called the largest identity theft case in US history, the story has been ALL over the news!
Unless you're somewhere hiding under a rock, there is no way you can miss the coverage of this story. I mean, it's all over national news channels, local news broadcasts, the radio, front pages of newspapers and the internet.
And as frightening as the story is, I'm relieved it's getting so much coverage.
Not only should consumers be made aware that outrageous things like this could happen, but it also serves as an important reminder to thoroughly check your bank and credit card statements every month, and to thoroughly review your credit reports at least once per year.
By keeping a close eye on your financial records, you stand a better chance of heading fraud off at the pass, and minimizing any financial damage or loss.
This international identity theft scheme targeted the financial information of US consumers, which resulted in over 40 million stolen credit and debit card numbers. The financial information was either used by the hackers themselves for their own personal gain, or sold off to other cyber-criminals all over the world.
The sophisticated fraud ring hijacked the credit card and debit card numbers, PIN numbers, passwords, and whatever else they could, from consumers who shopped at stores with vulnerable security networks: TJ Maxx, Marshalls, BJ's Wholesale Club, Office Max, Boston Market, Barnes & Noble, Sports Authority, Forever 21, DSW, and Dave & Busters.
I, for one, have shopped on numerous occasions at several of these stores, and it's not a good feeling to know that my personal financial information could potentially be out there being bought and sold all over the world.
Truth of the matter is, there's really no telling who's hands the breached information really ended up in, what they'll do with it, or when - if they do anything with it at all. And that's just not a very pleasant thought.
It truly amazes me how cyber criminals with so much intelligence and skill can put forth the effort and time to mastermind such an elaborate, fraudulent scheme, but couldn't do the same for something that was legal with the potential to make them just as much money, if not more.
In case you didn't already get enough of the story, you can check out the press release from the US Department of Justice, CNNMoney.com, the story in the International Herald Tribune, or just Google it!