Proving your identity has become a challenge in this world where someone halfway across the globe can impersonate you. A person you know may request that you pick up a gift card for them, because they forgot to get a gift for their niece. Most likely this is a scam. Gift cards are popular with impersonators since they can be used like cash, but often only requires the numbers on the gift card to use it.
A scammer recently contacted Hernando County residents posing as a representative of the Sheriff’s office. The name they used was an actual sheriff deputy whose name they had most likely found online. The caller informed the victims that there was an outstanding warrant for their arrest for missed jury duty.
When Americans were settling the west, a person’s identification was a big issue. At the time, many people from all over the world were traveling west to make their fortune and the travelers were unknown to each other. Often identity was established by a third party who knew both individuals personally. If that was not possible, a letter of introduction was sent by a prominent person who was known to the receiver. In today’s digital world, letters and emails are easily forged, so we should place more value on personal knowledge.
It is interesting that very little value today is placed on how often you go to a store. Visiting the same grocery store for a number of years, you are still subjected to the same credit card checks as a first time customer. Reducing the verification time spent on regular customers means there would be more time available to thoroughly vet customers who are new. A scammer would run a risk attempting to impersonate someone at their regular store, since there is a decent chance that the cashier would know the person.
The US Government uses the personal introduction from a known party for entrance into programs above top secret. The individual may have all the proper credentials, but the rule is you are not allowed to share the information with them until someone has personally introduced them to you and informed you that they are in the program.
This is an advantage that smaller communities have over big cities. The individuals are known to each other and that makes committing identity theft more difficult. The problem is credit cards can be used anywhere, so attackers usually choose to go outside the community to reduce the chance of running into someone who knows the victim.