I just learned that my dad fell for a online green card lottery scam. It happened over 3 years ago, the attacker took 60$ and disappeared. I am not even considering getting this money back.

On the other hand, he had his victim fill out all sorts of forms giving out private personal data. That worries me a lot more. I do not know what is the exact data given, my dad himself does not remember, so let's assume the worse.

So far, my dad hasn't noticed any unusual activity on his bank account, and he just wants to put this incident behind him. I already gave him the usual talk of how to detect fraud and not fall for it (as far as my internet knowledge goes) but what can I tell him about the leaked info? How can he make sure that:

  1. It's not going to be used by identity thiefs?
  2. It's not already being used by identity thiefs?
  • 1
    This question doesn't have an answer. You cannot solve a problem that doesn't exist. If he is giving out banking information the solution is, to change his banking information, and for him to stop doing that.
    – Ramhound
    Commented May 7, 2012 at 11:43
  • It is worth mentioning that you are from France, I assume your dad is also? Commented May 7, 2012 at 14:30
  • @GeorgeBailey: you're right, I should've mentionned this. While I live in France, my dad lives in Lebanon, the country where I'm from.
    – rahmu
    Commented May 7, 2012 at 14:32

3 Answers 3

  1. you can't
  2. you can't

There is one thing you should have done instantly:

File a complaint with the police, so they know there is a possibility that his personal details might be used in an identity scam.

Of course there are some standard things:

  • change pincodes
  • change passwords
  • report the incident to your bank
  • block any related credit cards

But to be honest, 3 years after the facts is a bit late.


Three years later? What prompted you to bring this up again?

If it were me, I would probably

  • rotate bank accounts (ask my bank for a new account, order new checks, can't be that bad)
  • review all credit card charges as they come in (should already be doing this, at least in USA, if there is a fraud charge on your credit card, you can call the company and they will refund you and send a new card)
  • It would be interesting to inquire about getting a new (Lebanon equivalent of an) SSN, I am not sure if that is possible in the USA, or if that even exists in Lebanon. But at least it is a reasonable question to see what is involved. You can decide for yourself if it is worth it.
  • And any other "number" that is worth while, you should decide what to do about it.

But I don't get why you would bring this up three years later. Was it just to increase learning? (ok, I do it all the time) Or on the other hand, are you really concerned about more lost money, 3 years later?

  • Three years later because, as mentioned, I just learned that. I bring it up because, I worry that his identity might be misused right now and wonder if there's anything one can do, even after all this time. I thought about asking the experts and this site was the first one to pop to my mind :)
    – rahmu
    Commented May 7, 2012 at 14:34
  • @rahmu, By the way, I have no problem with that, it did strike me as very odd that you brought this up three years later, but I consider it reasonable. :) Commented May 7, 2012 at 14:39

First, report the identity theft to your local police department. Ask them to issue a police report. They may not do anything, but having the police report may help you in the future.

Next, call his bank. Ask them to put a fraud alert on his account. They will change how they handle the account. For instance, they will require additional authentication when you call in. (Yes, banks will do this for you; I have done it.)

If you wish, you can report the identity theft to all three credit bureaus. They'll flag your information with a fraud alert, which makes it harder to open a new account in your name.

Consider placing a credit freeze (aka a security freeze) on your file. This prevents others from accessing your credit record. However, it will also prevent your Dad from opening new accounts unless you temporarily remove it.

Also, you might take the opportunity to teach your Dad a little bit about these scams.

Over the next year or so, monitor his bank account and credit card statements carefully to look for evidence that someone is exploiting this. Take advantage of the "one free credit report each year" to monitor his credit report from the major credit bureaus.

Personally, I wouldn't bother signing up for a credit monitoring service. They seem to be of dubious repute.

There are some good resources available online. See, e.g., idtheftinfo.org, California's resources, FTC's resources.

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