Miami Identity Theft Ring Busted; Tips to Prevent Being a Victim

Three British nationals were arrested recently and charged with using counterfeit credit and debit cards to make ATM withdrawals in Miami Beach, according to The Miami Herald.

The case underscores the need for a strong criminal defense attorney in the midst of computer-related crimes. And Miami credit card fraud attorneys are prepared to help. But for victims, hiring an attorney who knows all about these types of crimes can help you make a recovery and restore your credit.

According to the report, the men used fake, blank cards loaded with stolen checking information. In the United Kingdom, checking information was stolen by using skimming machines, contraptions that are placed on ATM machines in order to steal PIN numbers and account information from bank customers. The information is then transferred onto magnetic strips encoded in fake debit cards.

This isn’t the first case of identity theft in South Florida and it won’t be the last. Just recently, three men were sentenced to between 48 and 75 months in federal prison after being found guilty of conspiracy to commit access device fraud, unauthorized use of access devices and aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, U.S. Code Sections 1029 and 1028A.

According to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, three men in spring 2010 skimmed credit card numbers from customers at a Hialeah restaurant, where one of the men worked. They would then use the stolen credit card numbers to make dozens of fraudulent purchases.

Here are some tips from personal identity theft protection company Debix:

User Names and Passwords: Your first line of defense is to have unique user names and passwords for each account you have for both websites and desktop applications that access the internet. Get out of the habit of using the same password across multiple accounts and start using strong passwords. There are also some good password manager tools available that make it easy to manage and store passwords securely. Securing your accounts with strong passwords is critical. Since many of our personal accounts use email addresses as the user name, all hackers have to do is send a “phishing” email to get your password, and they’re in your account. If you use the same password across multiple accounts, you’ve just put much more information at risk than just the one hacked account.

Be Aware of Phishing: This term has been a hot topic in recent months. Tech industry authority ComputerWorld defines Phishing as “a technique used to gain personal information for purposes of identity theft, using fraudulent e-mail messages that appear to come from legitimate businesses. These authentic-looking messages are designed to fool recipients into divulging personal data such as account numbers and passwords, credit card numbers and Social Security numbers.” The best advice for avoiding becoming a victim of phishing is to be extremely careful: don’t click links in emails or open attachments from senders you don’t know, or give out personal information via email.

Make Sure Your Anti-Virus Protection and Operating System Updates are Current: If you DO ever click on a malicious link and it’s a virus or other malware, all hope is not lost if you have current anti-virus protection installed on your computer. If your anti-virus protection is up to date, then there is a very good chance of catching it before it does major damage to your computer and identity. Be sure to check your program regularly to ensure it’s up to date. An out of date program may not be able to catch the latest threats.