Potential Identity Theft Scam Related to Terrorist Attacks

By the PRC with
Identity Theft Resource Center
P.O. Box 26833
San Diego, CA 92196
(858) 693-7935

Media Contacts: 
Linda Foley, Identity Theft Resource Center Director
Beth Givens,
PRC Director
619- 298-3396

The media, law enforcement officials, and consumer organizations have been alerting the public of potential harmful scams, including charity scams, as a result of the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C.

The Identity Theft Resource Center and Privacy Rights Clearinghouse also urge media outlets and consumer organizations to alert the public of two potential identity theft-related situations that might arise from the recent World Trade Towers disasters.

  1. It is highly conceivable that fraudsters will use this situation to contact consumers stating that company databases were damaged and that the caller needs critical information to reconstruct the accounts that were affected. Under no circumstances do creditable companies contact consumers in this manner. Please urge consumers not to give any identifying data over the phone or via the Internet, especially social security numbers, credit card or bank account numbers, identifiers for stock transactions or PIN information.

  2. There were hundreds of thousands of papers scattered around on the streets of Manhattan after the collapse of the towers. There is the possibility that some of those papers contained identifying information including social security numbers, frequently used by investment companies as account numbers. Individuals who did business with an affected company may want to consider placing a consumer alert on his/her credit reports (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) stating that new accounts should not be opened without the express permission of the consumer who can be reached at the home number.

In general, consumers should be warned not to give out sensitive personal information if they receive telephone calls or e-mails that use the terrorist attacks as the reason for requesting such information.

Please note: We have not learned that fraudsters are using this tragedy as a means to obtain key identifying information from unsuspecting consumers. But we think it is important to be aware of this possibility.

For further information, you may contact Linda Foley or Beth Givens at the above numbers. Identity theft is the fastest growing crime today and we do not wish to add to the human tragedy of this act by allowing identity thieves to take advantage of the situation. The Identity Theft Resource Center and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse are nonprofit consumer advocacy programs that have long worked with identity theft victims. Our web sites, listed above, contain many tips for identity theft victims and for consumers who want to prevent identity theft.