Study finds most of metro Detroit at elevated risk for ID fraud - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Study finds most of metro Detroit at elevated risk for ID fraud

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Detroit ID fraud ring map from ID Analytics Detroit ID fraud ring map from ID Analytics
SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WJBK) -

ID Analytics in San Diego has monitored over a million applications for credit cards and cell phones in metropolitan Detroit, and they found a lot of people are trying to commit identity fraud.

Dr. Stephen Coggeshall from ID Analytics joined us by phone.  We asked him if the identity thieves are professionals.

"I see a combination of both," he said.  "I see what you'd consider the professionals, kind of the mafia type, but I also see what I would call family and friends groups.  These are people who look just like the people next door.  They are husbands and wives and maybe siblings and parents and children, and they're just conspiring to commit identity fraud."

The map above shows fraud activity highlighted by color.  Coggeshall explained what the colors actually mean.

"The areas in green are the ones whose risk for identity fraud is average or below.  So anything that is not green means you're at an elevated risk level," he said.  "People who are in the red zip code areas are at substantially elevated identity fraud risk.  They're in the top ten percent of likelihood of identity frauds going on within their region."

Coggeshall can even see who is pulling off identity frauds.  His job is not to alert the police about what he finds.  He works for the businesses that buy his service to protect themselves.

For example, he said there is a woman that he is watching in the 48204 zip code, which is located in northwest Detroit, who is 53 years old and has used 40 different improper Social Security numbers and twelve different dates of birth on her applications.

"I also see that she's used seven different first names outside of nicknames and five different last names," Coggeshall said.  "So she is just being very creative and inventive as she applies for credit cards and cell phones."

"I know her address.  I know her phone number.  I know her email.  I know her age, and I know exactly what she's doing.  I'm watching her apply for credit cards and cell phones," he added.

So what should we do to protect ourselves?

"First of all, consumers really need to be very careful about their personal information.  The Social Security number is the most important and damaging piece of information.  First of all, don't give it to anybody you don't know unless it's absolutely necessary, and any document or piece of paper that has your Social Security number on it that you don't need anymore, don't just throw it away, shred that," he said.  "Your date of birth is the next most important, and then any kind of financial account numbers.  So be very careful with those pieces of information."

For more information about ID Analytics, visit www.idanalytics.com.

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