■ Scam crackdown
■ Credit-card battle
against ID theft
By David Horowitz
THIS PAST YEAR 8. 4 million Americans were
victims of identity theft. So far, identity theft is still
the number-one crime in the United States, and it is
spreading worldwide unabated.
In addition to financial harm, many victims
were left with damaged credit reports, requiring an
enormous amount of time and work to repair. A bipartisan Senate bill would allow victims to seek restitution for any money and time they spent repairing
their credit history.
The legislation also would give federal prosecutors more tools to combat identity theft and cyber-crime, and would eliminate a requirement that the
loss resulting from damage to a victim’s computer
must exceed $5,000 for prosecution. It would make
it a felony to use spyware or keyloggers (people who
can capture victims’ personal information on their
computer) to damage 10 or more computers and
would expand the definition of cyber-crime.
The legislation, called the Identity Theft and
Enforcement Restitution Act of 2007, passed the
Senate and is on its way to the House. To support
it, contact your U.S. representative, whose contact
information can be found at
other scams, check out the National Consumer
League’s Web site, www.fakechecks.org.
I STORED a piano at a
storage company until
my home was remodeled. The driver of the
moving company noted
that the piano lid had
a large scar on it, which
was not there when it
was picked it up for
storage. The storage
company says the damage occurred after it
left their facility; the
movers deny it. The lid
replacement will cost
$1,270. No one will take
Students fight credit-card tactics
Student advocates say colleges must help protect students from credit problems.
For years, colleges have allowed aggressive and
often deceptive credit-car d-marketing
campaigns on their campuses. Credit-card companies are often allowed to
set up booths in campus bookstores,
include advertisements for their
cards in college welcome packets and
advertise on campus. Some colleges
even provide the contact information of their student body
to the banks and receive a
fee for doing so.
The Federation of State
Public Interest Research
Groups (U.S. PIRG) is
urging college administrators to take an active
role in determining the
type of credit-card marketing allowed on their
campuses. According to
a U.S. PIRG spokesper-son, “We believe that college students are victims of
unfair credit-card-market-ing practices that we think
we can stop.” C
Grants Pass, OR
E-mail scam crackdown
Many of us have received scam messages from
some faraway country, begging for immediate help.
The formally worded, urgent “confidential” messages speak of threatened inheritances, political upheaval or other evocative issues, with the strangers
seeking help to get money out of their country. For
your trouble, you are promised a share of the cash.
The unknowing recipient of the phony appeal
often is mailed a check and instructed to deposit it
and send part of the money back to the sender. But
the person disappears with the money as the original
check bounces, leaving the victim with a loss.
As ridiculous as the requests are, thousands of
people fall for the scam, losing an average of $3,000
to $4,000 each. For some it’s even greater, with reports of many retirees losing all of their savings. Last
year, more than 800 victims filed complaints each
month about such scams.
In 2007 the U.S. Postal Inspection Service started
an international crackdown, resulting in arrests in
the Netherlands, Nigeria and Canada. More than
540,000 fake checks with a face value of $2.1 billion
have been seized.
For more information about avoiding these and
David Horowitz is a leading consumer advocate.
His “Fight Back!” commentaries are heard daily on
the Jones Radio Network. For stations and times,
check the radio page at
© 2008 FIGH T BACK! INC. ALL RIGH TS RESERVED.
cases are not rare,
particularly if the
owner isn’t pres-
ent to inspect
the goods before
shipping. I sug-
gest that you
and file a case
with the state
public utilities com-
will send a letter
to the storage com-
pany demanding a
response, but they
cannot force a settle-
ment. If that does not
resolve the conflict,
you should consider
bringing both parties to
Do you have a question for David?
Just log on to
www.fightback.com and “Ask David.” He will personally respond
to your problem if you follow the instructions printed on his Web site. (Costco
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greatest interest to Costco members will be used in this column with the
permission of the contributor and will be posted on