Whatever tools an identity thief is using, whether Dumpster diving for individual credit card numbers or stealing identities by the millions, “the damage that you can do to someone is exactly the same,” Florida identity theft expert Wayne Ivey tells the Miami Herald. This rapidly evolving crime is becoming more difficult to stop: Only one in 700 identity thieves is ever arrested. “We’re looking at a crime that has reached epidemic proportions,” he said.
“The average person will expend over 400 hours trying to get their credit restored,” Ivey said. The Federal Trade Commission says it usually takes more than a year between an identity theft and a victim’s discovery of it. Sean Arries of Terremark in Miami says the public should “start to realize what’s going on and push for more security.” Arries cautions against using public networks — at a coffee shop, airport or the like — for anything more than browsing the Internet. It took him less than a minute to demonstrate how simple it is for someone to grab information streaming from a computer using an public wireless network.