Friday, August 03, 2007

A Brief Note of Caution

I can now say that I know someone who has been the victim of identity theft: Me. At some point yesterday night, someone rang up nearly $250 worth of charges on my credit card without my permission.

Within the past two days, my MySpace account has been hacked into twice. I was asked to change my password once and I foolishly used part of my PIN number as one of the new passwords and my theory is that someone used that information to ring up those charges. My new password is so esoteric that I doubt anyone could figure it out.

I had to go to the bank today and fill out about ten forms. I do intend to press charges as well if law enforcement and/or the bank can find out exactly who used my card to run up these charges. A major inconvenience in itself, this is further complicated by the fact that it may be up to 60 days before I get my money back. However, there's a chance that I might know something within 10 days, if I am deemed not at fault. And by this the bank means that they can solidly determine that I never let anyone use my card (which I didn't) and I never took the card out of my possession (which I didn't).

Interestingly enough, the charges were to a Chevron station and to a strip club in Atlanta. Someone must have had a good time. That's at least four lap dances and a tip.

The odd thing about it was that the only way someone could have used my card is if they had an actual copy of the thing. Making online purchases requires an additional three digit number to be entered as an additional layer of protection. I know that new cards were shipped out to my address, but the ones that arrived I made a point of shredding before I left to go back to Birmingham.

What is most suspect is the fact that this theft happened late last night. I haven't lived in Atlanta in nearly a month and a half. I have an alibi and three witness to prove that I was here and not in Atlanta last night.

Since I do use P2P software on a regular basis to swap mp3s, my theory is that someone got into my account by latching onto my IP address. Still, there's a lot of unanswered questions. A friend of mine suggested that perhaps someone who works for amazon.com, USPS, or UPS is the culprit, being that I do make frequent purchases online. However, my last purchase was well over three weeks ago. The question that remains is why now?

Let this be a cautionary tale that you should use different passwords for every social networking site you use, plus any e-mail programs you might use. Also, use p2p software with caution and make sure you scan for spyware and viruses after every time you use them. You never know who's looking in. Thank God my MySpace account reveals few personal details about myself.

This just gives me another reason to hate MySpace.

1 comment:

DJD / Dave said...

I had a MySpace page for a short time. I think it's very over-rated.