In Depth: Identity Theft
Identity theft is a growing problem with 27 million Americans falling victim over the last five years.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), identity theft is the fastest growing white-collar crime in America. During the holiday season, shopping online can make someone a target. Thieves can obtain information and then sell it worldwide.
Diana Guido is a victim of identity theft. She says someone got a hold of her social security number and filed for her income tax return. The person who stole her identity then received a check for the amount on her return. She also received a check and when she went to cash it, she was told it had already been cashed.
Guido found the person who stole her identity because their name and Bronx address is on her credit report. But although she has filed a police report, nothing can be done unless the person is caught in the act.
The FTC says thieves dig through trash, pose as workers to get in your house or use mail scams to steal your identity. One recent scam involved the mail. People would receive a letter saying they had won thousands of dollars, but before they could claim the prize they had to fill out personal information. With that info, thieves would drain bank accounts.
Anyone who thinks they may be a victim of identity theft should contact the credit card company and have a fraud alert placed on the account. Then file a report with the police and FTC. Be sure to close all accounts and open new ones, and get a copy of credit reports at least twice a year.