Identity Thieves Thrive in Information Age

PT       2001-05-31 
The identity thieves began their scam the old-fashioned way, stealing credit card statements, new bank checks and other documents from mailboxes in a neighborhood just south of Portland, Ore. But their operation took a high-tech turn that confirmed what law enforcement authorities and privacy specialists have long suspected: Criminal groups, like legitimate businesses, are using commercial online data brokers, which collect and sell personal information. Using an America Online e-mail account and one of the stolen credit card numbers, the thieves paid $25 to $280 for reports containing Social Security numbers, employment information and driving records via e-mail, according to documents and interviews. They used those details to order more credit cards, create a phony driver's license and begin plundering at least two bank accounts.