Thursday, March 29, 2012


I recently saw an application for an individual who wished to rent a condominium here in Florida, and I almost fell out of my chair. The form, used by Renters Reference, a company who approves tenants for landlords, requested, to my utter amazement as a financial crime consultant:

(1) The bank account numbers of the applicant.
(2) the Social Security Number of the applicant.

Add to that the request for a photocopy of the applicant's driver's license, which was also requested, and you have the minimum information necessary for an identity thief to adopt this individual's identity, craft a reasonable facsimile of the applicant's driver's license,  go to a faraway branch of the applicant's bank, and clean out the accounts.

Last year, someone showed up at a branch of my bank 30 miles away from my residence, with a bogus driver's license ( he was African-American, and I am not) and, making a dummy deposit of bad checques, obtained $700 out of my account. The bank teller failed to check my signature, and paid out the money. Of course,  a financial institution, under the law, is deemed to know the signatures of its own depositors, due to the signature card they hold, so the money was refunded by the bank.

Back to our story: I assume that Renters Reference has attorneys on staff. Perhaps they would like to pay the amount of any judgments obtained by individuals who are victimised by identity thieves who gain easy access to their files. Gentlemen, please change those forms forthwith.


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