Third identity theft in a week reported here
By Kathy Kendrick
Date: October 22, 2003
An Arkansas City woman is the latest local victim of identity theft, marking the third such case to be reported to local police in just the past week. The 54-year-old victim reportedly had her identity used by an unknown suspect to open a cell phone account with Cellular One.
Charges totaling $134.91 were made on the account, police said. There are no suspects in the case at this time and the investigation is ongoing.
Last week, two local residents made police reports on separate incidents of identity theft. In both cases, their personal information was used to illegally open accounts for utilities.
Identify theft occurs when a person uses another's name or personal information without consent and use it to commit a fraud. The information obtained may be used by the thief for acquiring employment, hooking up utilities and/or making purchases.
Those committing the crimes gather the information in a number of ways, including going through trash cans, stealing the victim's mail or lifting their wallets. Some have obtained information by setting up phony internet web sites offering fake great deals to draw in their victims and get the information they need.
Identity theft is a serious and growing problem. A 2001 CBS news report said that, every 79 seconds, someone has their identity stolen and used to open accounts that are then used for shopping sprees by the thieves. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission says that identity theft is its number one source of consumer complaints with the crime accounting for 42 percent of all complaints in 2001. It is currently estimated that 750,000 people each year become victimized by the crime. To help prevent becoming a victim of identity theft, Kansas Attorney General Phil Kline recommends the following steps be taken: *Be careful about giving out personal information. If this information is requested, ask why it is needed, how it will be used and if it will be shared. *Do not have social security numbers printed on checks. *Limit the amount of identifying information carried. *Do not mail items containing personal information by placing them in a home mailbox with the red flag raised. *Collect mail delivered to the home as soon as possible after it is delivered. *Carefully study monthly bills and credit card statements. *Obtain a credit report at least once each year. *Purchase a shredder and shred all old bills, unwanted credit card offers, credit receipts and insurance and medical information that is no longer needed.
Victims of identity theft may request that a fraud alert be placed in the files and add a statement requesting creditors to notify you before opening or changing any accounts. If accounts have been fraudulently obtained or accessed, victims should notify the appropriate security departments immediately and close the accounts.
Victims may also contact the Consumer Protection Division and the Federal Trade Commission,s Theft Clearinghouse.
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