One of the most interesting pieces of work I did this year involved helping a person who had been a victim of identity fraud lock down their on-line identity.
As a long time internet user and a frequent contributor to many (too many) on-line forums and publicly accessable sites, this person had unwittingly shared an unbelievably detailed picture of who this person is.
In assessing the scope of what was shared, I spent a few days on several sites and pulled together an incredibly detailed and accurate picture of the intimate details of this person's life. When presented with my report, this person was absolutely horrified at the extent to which their life had been made public. Details like which bank and branch, where the kids were at school, where they work, what they did, who they were morgaged with, the types of investments they held, even their dog's name.
Keep in mind, this was information shared a morsel at a time over a period of about 5 years.
Based on the quantity of contributions, the simplest method for recovery was to get the administrators of these locations to remove all of the contributions. It simply wasn't time or energy efficient to go about manually removing individual references. In most cases we found the site administrators extremely sympathetic and they were prompt in deleting the accounts and with that, accepting the option to remove all posts by this individual. With their assistance, new accounts were then created and where pertinent, edited to reflect this person's previous membership level and site statistics.
We wrote several programs similar to web crawlers to crawl through some sites and remove all posts by this person while signed in as them. These we used on sites where we could not contact the administrators.
In all, a very interesting and successful process. Our final assessment of this person's on-line identity brings up very little information on the person behind the identity, and moving forward, I am sure a repeat of the experience will not happen either. I post this with the victim's permission, after having passed it by them for final approval. For more information I have included a couple of links below so you can research this further and get a better understanding of the risks, thereby protecting yourself against them.