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Staying Safe: Identity Fraud

Staying Safe: Identity Fraud



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

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Nadine Wimmer ReportingYour chances of being a victim of violent crime are about two and a half in one thousand. Your chances of being a victim of identity fraud are one in four.

To beat those odds, you've got to know what the criminals know. For example, plastic hotel room cards not only get you in the door, they contain all the personal information on your credit card. We lose it or leave it in the room and a thief could easily scan it.

Check Fraud Felon: “When it comes to your information, your credit cards, your accounts, don't trust anyone."

This woman tried every trick in the book to cash in on identity fraud. She's now out of prison. Since she's helping protect identities, we agreed to conceal hers.

Check Fraud Felon: "When you're at the grocery store and it's time to pay, ask yourself, ‘Do I trust this person?’ And you should say no."

In fact, she used to have insiders at grocery stores, instacares, even banks, who would sell the information off customers' checks. So her next tip...

Check Fraud Felon: "If you can't pay cash for it, don't buy it. It's to the point now, checks are a really bad idea. Really bad idea."

Kelly Wuthrich, Attorney General's Office: “I wish there was a safe way to go, but cash seems to be a comfortable way to go."

We've almost come full circle. Used to be they told you not to carry lots of cash. But now the information on checks is more valuable. At least debit cards are safer because they require a pin number.

Next advice, don't use your mailbox for bills or other sensitive documents.

Check Fraud Felon: "They don't realize that's just what people like me are looking for. You'd just grab the whole stack, people's letters from loved ones. I can't imagine how much stuff was lost, because you're picking through what you want the throw what you don't want."

What about locked mailboxes?

Check Fraud Felon: "I bought one [master key] for 100 dollars. If you're in those circles, you know where to go."

Finally, don't throw away stubs or receipts. She used to watch for that at check cashing places and other businesses.

Check Fraud Felon: "For some reason, they would just throw their stub, their receipt in the garbage. I would throw something on the floor and pretend to pick it up or pretend I put something in the garbage, bend down and pick up that important paper I needed and pull out five or six of them right there."

Much of the problem is she and other criminals know there's very little risk of getting caught. Police make arrests in violent crime more than 50 in 100 cases. They make arrests in ID fraud about 1 in 700 cases.

Check Fraud Felon: "Nobody pays for it and nobody's responsible for it except for the poor victim whose account I just drained." One thing most people don't realize, the most common place where purses and wallets are stolen is from work, by co-workers.

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