An article recently came out in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution covering a man who was involved in a wide-spread identity theft scheme that targeted unsuspecting individuals using something known as a keystroke grabber. Erkes Antwon Green was able to steal over 150 identities and constructed files that contained people’s names, date of birth and Social Security numbers. Green then attempted, and in many cases successfully, to file tax returns for each of the stolen identities. Through this endeavor, he was able to furnish his entire apartment and even purchased several extremely expensive cars with the ill-gotten gains.
How was Green able to obtain this information? According to police, he had the help of what is called a keystroke grabber, a piece of technology that can be used in identity theft and can go unseen for months at a time. Basically, a fraudster can plug the keystroke grabber into a USB port and then connect the hardware so that the Keystroke gabber acts as a conduit between the computer and keyboard. Computers are blind to this hardware as it acts as a completely transparent go-between for the keyboard – an individual would not even know it is there unless they check the back of the computer. This device then logs the victim’s keystrokes providing a fraudster with account access information, passwords, and other personal information that can be utilized to verify an identity.
These devices can be used anywhere – and can even send data wirelessly back to the fraudster from a remote location. Typically, they are small enough to go undetected for some time. Public computers, in libraries for example, can become perfect conduits for collecting personal information. Corporate offices can be targeted by a malicious temp or even a member of the cleaning crew. All a fraudster has to do is get in the door.
It is extremely important to be aware of this issue. It is also important to note that there are various types of keystroke grabbers of which were not discussed in this post – these include malware and other programs that can be sent to you through phishing efforts with the goal of getting you to click in order to activate. There are also additional hardware key loggers that can be stored within a computer keyboard.
Here are a few tips to protect yourself and your customers:
- Check your hardware! Especially if there is any kind of public access to the computer.
- Scan your entire system for viruses and spyware – regularly.
- Never log into personal accounts, type credit card numbers or use confidential passwords on public computers.
- Be aware. The more you know – the better.
Another useful tip in protecting your information is to never put personal information or data on a USB or laptop. A significant amount of identities are stolen every year utilizing data found on lost portable devices.
Bottom line – increasing your awareness of these activities and protecting your customers (as well as yourself) from identity theft should always be a top priority.
For more information on IDology’s Fraud Prevention solutions, click here or schedule a personalized demo today!