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Big Banks Target of ID Thieves

By Faye Mergel
Published: Sunday, January 17th, 2010

Many consumers prefer choosing big names like Chase Bank, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo. However, some experts warn that identity thieves are more likely to attack major banks, placing their clients in greater risks for ID theft. Experts say there is not much consumers can do to stop crooks, but they can keep their identities from being stolen by checking their credit report regularly.

Big Banks Target of ID ThievesPhoenix-based Merchants Identity Theft Advisory Board warns that clients of major banks have greater chances of having their personal identifying information stolen. All of the large banks in the United States have had their data breached at least once, says Russell John, an ID theft specialists and member of the board.

Last month, The Wall Street Journal reported an attack made by Russian hackers against Citigroup. In September, thieves stole a computer tape containing personal identifying information from Chase clients, prompting the bank to send out letters to customers informing them of the breach.
Other major banks that have been targeted by ID thieves include PNC Banks, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, Bank of America, SunTrust Bank, Capitol One, and Citizens Bank.

Mark Pribish says nine out of the top 10 banks in the country have all been breached. The ID theft specialist and president of the advisory board adds that information from those banks have either been stolen or lost during data breaches. Moreover, those banks have been breached multiple times over the last few years.

According to Pribish, most ID thieves are insiders, either discontented employees or vendors who manage part of a bank’s businesses. Johnson adds that hackers from Russia and other Eastern European countries are also responsible for many security breaches.

Many consumers whose personal information was stolen express concern over what could happen to them. Paul, who prefers to not to reveal his real name, says he received a letter from Bank of America Saturday informing him that his card account has been compromised, forcing the card issuer to close his account. He is given a new card.

He says the incident is quite scary and believes banks need to provide more protection to their clients. With banks spending huge money on bonuses, Paul remarks they should place some of those on improving their security.

Meanwhile, the advisory board reminds consumers that they are at great risk for ID theft in this computer age.

Basic precautions still work best against information thieves, specialists say. They suggest shredding confidential documents, remaining discrete about personal information, and checking a credit report regularly.

Consumers can get a free copy of their credit report each year, which makes ID theft protection less costly.

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