Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Identity Theft 100,I'm You, What Will I Do?

“Identity Theft” occurs when I am pretending to be you. I use your name, date of birth, Social Security number, current and former addresses etc. I am having so much fun being you that I am making you broke. The Police Notebook blog says"Identity theft" occurs when someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person's personal data (i.e., name, date of birth, social security number, driver's license number, and your financial identity— credit card, bank account and phone-card numbers) in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain (to
obtain money or goods/services). Criminals also use identity theft to fraudulently obtain identification cards, driver licenses, birth certificates, social security numbers, travel visas and other official government papers.

Let’s pretend that I stole your identity, I would have fun doing this:

  • Go on spending sprees using your credit and debit card account numbers to buy big screen TV, computer, and several Gucci bags (evening bag, classic bag, you name it)…and Manolo Blahnik fall collection boots. I’ll sell the TV and computers but keep the bags and boots.

  • Open a new credit card account, using your name, date of birth and SSN. I am not going to pay the bill (of course, pfft…pfft). The account will become overdue and it is your name that will be reported to credit agency, not mine.

  • Call your credit card issuer and, pretending to be you, ask to change the mailing address on your credit card account. Because your bills are being sent to the new address, it may take some time before you realize there’s a problem. I would go to Boston Newbury Street and buy more boots…. It gives me plenty of time to shops…and shops…

  • Buy a car (or two) by taking out auto loans in your name…my plate number will be “My Free Car”. Then sell it.

  • Connect phone or wireless service in your name with international connection of course. I will call all my high school friends in Indonesia, alphabetically. If I have more time I will also call all my exes to tell them how happy my life is (also alphabetically).

  • Counterfeit checks or debit cards, and use up your bank account.

  • Give your name to the police during an arrest. I am going to be released from custody but I am not going to show up at the court date. An arrest warrant will be issued in your name (while I was in a cruise somewhere…).

I can go on and on. I can add drug trafficking if I were an addict.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Sending Money For Dear Mommy

Fast, low cost and secure international person-to-person money transfer is what everybody wants. But the "how" is not easy to answer. Banks charge a flat fee ranging from $30 to $35 and it takes about 2-5 business days. Money Service Business (MSB) or money transfer company such as Western Union and MoneyGram charge variable fees (The more you send the higher the fees). In addition to the fees applicable to the transactions, they also collect the difference between the exchange rate given to customers and the exchange rate that they receive. They say the money will be available within minutes. Shop around for a good rate. If you go online, you will find many money transfer businesses. By law, they need to register with the Department of Treasury. Both Bank and money transfer company will obtain your personal identification information (DOB, Driver License Number). Using a reputable MSB means less chance your ID will be used for fraudulent purposes. Use MSB with a good reputation. Ask for the final amount disbursed to the receiver and total fees paid by you and the receiver in advance. Ask the currency exchange rate applicable to your transaction. Ask the the person you are sending money to do same research.

Some people use unofficial risky methods of transferring money. These methods vary from using the postal service to send cash or checks and sending your bankcard overseas to a trusted person to use (Dear mom/dad/sis/bros). Make sure you monitor the user's banking activity through your statement, pay attention to the foreign exchange withdrawal fees and place a limit on the withdrawals if you can. I did some checking and these are just some examples to give you an idea. Contact each of the service providers for up-to-date detail information. Western Union agent in Indonesia includes BII, BRI, Bank Mandiri and PT POS Indonesia. You will need the receiver Bank SWIFT CODE (unique identification code of a particular bank) if you are transferring money between banks. Search the following portal for the Bank code and just to be safe confirm with the receiver Bank for accuracy. Hope it helps.

8/19/2007 Data, Amount Sent $500, US to Indonesia
Fee $10.00 Rupiah Rp. 4,650,750.00
Fee $20.00 Rupiah Rp. 4,735,450.00
Fee $43.00 Rupiah Rp. 4,500,075.00

8/19/2007 Data - Wire Transfer Fee ($)
Citizens Bank 35.00
Citibank 30.00
Sovereign Bank 35.00
TD Bank North 35.00
HSBC 30.00
Bank of America 45.00