If ever there was a dumb identity thief, this guy is it.
Gerald K. Acholonu was charged by federal prosecutors with aggravated identity theft and other crimes that stemmed from him stealing credit cards from other people’s mailboxes and using them to obtain cash advances and buy things.
Here’s the thing: If he’d just shredded documents, he might have gotten away with it.
Instead, prosecutors were able to build their case on the materials they obtained by going through Acholonu’s trash outside his apartment in Braintree, Mass.
When Acholonu worked for a private company that did business with the U.S. Postal Service, he came under scrutiny. A postal worker say him leave a restroom carrying a tray of mail, and Acholonu was reported.
Acholonu had access to the mail, including credit cards that Discover had sent from Salt Lake City to the northeast. After the investigation began, Acholonu apparently got cold feet and quit his job. But the investigation continued.
Investigative reports stated that officers found opened mail in Acholonu’s trash, including Discover credit cards and credit card statements, telephone statements and receipts, and cellular telephone SIM cards – all associated with his victim. He had handwritten on the credit card statements the victims’ dates of birth, Social Security numbers and PIN numbers.
Maybe next time, people will listen when we warn you: Shred those documents before you dispose of them.
Zachary, La. police have arrested a St. Charles Parish woman accused of fraudulently obtaining student loans in the names of relatives.
Police Chief John Herty said detectives booked 48-year-old Diane S. Truax of Norco on one count of felony theft, 16 counts of forgery, six counts of bank fraud, six counts of monetary instrument abuse and three counts of identity theft.
Herty said Truax is accused of using the personal information of three family members to obtain six loans, totaling approximately $40,000 from JP Morgan Chase Bank. The loans were made without the family member’s knowledge in 2007, 2008 and 2010.
What do you do if a family member steals your identity?
Theft of your identity is time consuming to solve and can be expensive. Adding the fact that a family member committed the crime complicates things a hundredfold. The key in this situation will be to gather all the pertinent information and then communicate with your family member.
If you haven’t done so already, you should be sure to get a copy of your credit report so you’ll know just how much damage has been done. You should also place a fraud alert on your credit report.
Contact the creditors and close the accounts that were opened in your name without your permission. This will keep you family member from having any further access to the account.
Once you have all the information for the accounts that your family member opened and used, you have a tough decision to make. Your next step would be to file a report with the police. But once you do so, the cat’s out of the bag, and the authorities can and will pursue charges, family member or not.
Your family member may agree to pay off the debt, and the creditor may be willing to switch the accounts to the family member’s name. Most, however, are not willing to do this, so doing things this way can be tricky. If you go this route, it’s best to have the family member pay the entire amount in one lump sum.
But it’s highly likely that a family member who was willing to commit a crime like this can’t pay off the debt. If you decide to pay the debt yourself over time, rather than cause a problem in your family, keep in mind that any negative information on your credit report will remain on your account for seven years.
“And if someone asks you to provide a Social Security number, ask them why they need it. How they’re going to keep it? How they’re going to safeguard it? Because you don’t want that number to fall into the wrong hands.”—Betsy Broder, Federal Trade Commission
Recently a client came to us with questions about ID theft and a very unusual situation that he experienced. Since most people would not expect this to occur I thought it is a great example to share. This was his question to us:
About six months ago I wound up having to stay in a hospital for…
So far, so good. I’m six months into my new LifeLock membership, and so far everything has gone just like they said it would.
I received my notice that I would no longer receive pre-approved credit offers within a few days. Hallelujah! ID thieves steal mail as one of the most common methods of ID theft, and every time I pulled a credit offer with a check out of my mailbox, I worried about whether there had been others I’d missed.
Because of the work I do, I know that a common ID theft technique is to change the victim’s address to divert mail and obtain personal and financial information. LifeLock’s TrueAddress™ monitors address changes and confirms that if my address is changed, it’s because I changed it.
I received my credit reports within just a couple weeks. We’re all supposed to review our credit reports annually, and with LifeLock, it gets done. Only 36% of Americans actually follow that advice, and it’s a relief to be among the 64% who do.
LifeLock’s WalletLock™ helps me replace my bankcards, credit cards, driver’s license, etc. if I ever lose my wallet—something I did twice before I got LifeLock. This weekend, I was in a hurry and had my hands full so I stuffed my debit card and $40 cash into my pocket; I lost the cash, but, thankfully, not the card. Still, it was a relief knowing LifeLock would help replace it if I had.
LifeLock also provides LifeLock Identity Alerts™, eRecon™, 24-hour customer service and a $1 million total service guarantee.
I haven’t applied for any new credit this year, and I haven’t received any notifications that anyone else has used my information to take out new credit. So far, so good.
But has LifeLock actually prevented my becoming an ID theft victim? I don’t know. But I do know they’ve at least cut down on my risk factors. And, I know that if someone did try to steal my identity, I’d know about it a lot faster than I would without LifeLock, and with their help, I’d be able to minimize the damage.
For everyone who does not have Lifelock, I strongly recommend that you purchase it. Just the sense of security that Lifelock provides is overwhelming. A week ago I purchased Lifelock, and yesterday, I had the scare of my life. An individual called me with all of my personal identification (social…
How many people actually “pack their parachute” when it comes to their most important business documents and software? The absolute worst time to check your backup is after a data disaster. Here are a few questions all business owners should know the answers to so they aren’t unpleasantly…
“Banks have always been a target for identity theft by the very nature of information they have on their customers. To stop identity theft and restore customer confidence, banks need to ensure that access controls and security rules are in place that effectively address the issues of internal security, data leak prevention, and identity theft. Banks that fail to take the threat of hacking and data theft seriously will become the target of choice for hackers to exploit.”—Kurt Shedenhelm
“Until we get a handle on identity theft, people need to not just assume that their credit is fine, because the sky is the limit on how much damage can be done to your credit. Plus, there’s always room for errors on the (credit) reports that need to be disputed and fixed.”—Kathy Banks
“Identity theft is a huge problem, and every number and indicator shows that it’s on the rise. This is not a question of six degrees of separation — everybody knows somebody who’s been a victim.”—Edmund Mierzwinski