Identity Theft: Craigslist and the FBI

Because identity theft is far too prevalent and because I promote an identity theft protection product, my reticular activator just goes crazy and I am seeing articles and posts everywhere! Recently, Jill Krasny, aIdentity theft word cloud writer for published a guest post on the online version of TIME. Just when you think you have seen it all—something else crops up and Krasny’s article really turned my head… scammers on Craig’s List trapping innocent people looking for rental homes!

Honestly! Stop and think about how difficult it is—searching for rental homes in the first place—and now renters have to be skeptical of whether there is a landlord or an identity thief on the other end of the on-going communication. Krasny speaks to how “fraudsters” direct potential renters to a particular “trusted” site for a credit report, which they require before scheduling a tour of the home. Apparently, the quality of copywriting on the site is good, but the scam was uncovered when it was discovered the URL ran through several redirects before landing on a site existing only to steal personal information—and charge a fee for future credit reports.

Unfortunately, this kind of theft is difficult to counter and Craigslist did not immediately respond other than to advise users to never share personal information, refrain from renting or purchasing “sight-unseen,” and refuse background or credit checks until you have personally met with a potential landlord.

Although a landlord is entitled to know your creditworthiness, anyone who is credible will not make that requirement for a viewing of the property. Even they should understand the sensitive personal information contained in them, and appreciate your reticence to share it with a stranger. If they do not; don’t get set up for the possible nightmare of identity theft.

Another one that just makes my blood boil is the IRS/FBI scam! Constance Brinkley-Badgett, also a guest author for TIME, stirred up the pot in late June with her message to consumers, “Beware of this new scam!” The long and short of it is how phone scammers are promoting themselves as the FBI coming down on you for unpaid IRS obligations, in the hope of swindling you out of cash and/or personal information. This one has made it to the FBI field offices who are issuing warnings that “a phone scam that fakes the FBI’s name and actual telephone number on the recipient’s caller ID has recently occurred.” I cannot imagine I would be so dumb as to believe anyone who told me there was a “federal warrant out for their arrest, which will be thrown out in exchange for immediate payment,” but apparently many victims have been traumatized.

What I did like about this particular article is that it did not just report the matter, but encourages victims to file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at

What is so frightening about this particular scam is how much the caller already knows: the name, background, and personal cell phone number of the intended victim, and just how far-reaching the scam is in terms of who it targets.

Just for your edification, the FBI has clarified the agency never calls or emails people to demand money or threaten arrest! It also recommends you:

  • Are always suspicious of unsolicited phone calls.
  • Never give money or personal information to someone with whom you don’t have ties and did not initiate contact.
  • Trust your instincts: if an unknown caller makes you uncomfortable or says things that don’t sound right, hang up.
  • If you think you may have been a victim of this or similar scams, it’s a good idea to check your financial accounts, credit reports and credit scores frequently for signs of fraud, like unauthorized transactions or unfamiliar entries. Be sure to immediately address these issues by notifying the authorities and even considering a credit freeze. 

I hope you have enjoyed this article; that it has made you think and reconsider just how cautious you must be—unfortunately, just short of being paranoid!  What I want to effect with the Identity Theft articles in the newsletter is to impress upon my readers how easy it is for almost anyone to fall victim to these predators.

I also want to reiterate it you don’t have some sort of identity theft protection, the financial devastation could be huge. As part of my insurance portfolio, I do offer an Identity Theft Protection Plan through my professional relationship with Legal Shield. If you would like to know more about this plan, I invite you to review my website:

You can make your purchase right from the website, or call me at 480 720 3600 to discuss any questions you may have about the product and services.

Making MORE happen for my insurance clients…

Jan Vitale

Arizona Independent Insurance Agent
Proudly serving her clients and her industry for 30+ years

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