I first started reading David Lazarus at the San Francisco Chronicle early in 2006, when he wrote about a huge data breach that was later tied to Office Max. Please note that Office Max never quite admitted to being the point of compromise.

That data breach was tied to payment card fraud that spread quickly across the entire country.

Since then it’s become very apparent that hackers have been targeting merchants for the credit/debit (payment) card information they’ve been storing in not very safe places.

David has left his digs at the San Francisco Chronicle and now writes for the LA Times.

In what appears to be his first story for them, he wanted to let his readers know:

The honchos here at the paper say I should devote my first column to introducing myself. At the moment, there’s only one thing I want anyone to know about me: I’m not Derrick Davis.

And I want this guy out of my life once and for all.

David understands the frustration a lot of people go through when someone takes over their financial life.

In David’s case, the person who stole his identity wasn’t even here legally. Apparently, he was also able to use a social security number that didn’t match his name to run up lines of credit and open checking accounts. It’s amazing that the credit was issued, when discrepancies like these existed.

Davis was eventually caught, but only because David worked the case himself and had a sympathetic soul (Postal Inspector), who took the information for action.

Even then since Davis was an illegal immigrant, the worst that happened to him was being deported to Jamaica.

Trust me, catching an identity thief is rare and hard to accomplish, unless you know the right people. The odds of not getting caught are 99 to 1, according to statistics.

All of this occurred in 2003 and David is still suffering from the episode.

When he moved to LA from San Francisco and tried to buy a new house, David discovered that the credit bureaus were still listing some of the bad debt Davis created. The mortgage company even suggested that David pay the debt Davis had incurred to allow their deal to go through on schedule.

Being well connected, David was able to get a couple of comments from Linda Foley at the Identity Theft Resource Center:

The question is not if you’ll become a victim of identity theft. It’s when. It’s the crime that keeps on giving. It’s the never-ending story.

You think you get everything solved, and then it’s like a ghost that reappears.

I’ll follow David’s work to the LA Times. I’ve always found him to be an excellent read and very knowledgeable on this subject. He has educated a lot of people this growing problem, and even has helped enact laws that protect people from this crime.

When I first started reading his articles, I had just discovered my information had been stolen in the compromise that Office Max never admitted to.

I guess I’ll have to keep wondering if that unfortunate episode will come back to haunt me sometime in the future.

David’s introduction to his new readers at the LA Times, here.

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