While we often hear about international criminal hackers compromising databases and stealing credit card information, identity theft is often committed locally, by someone with access to sensitive paperwork.
In one such case, a suspected identity thief was recently arrested in Washington, after driver’s licenses, credit cards, and Social Security numbers were stolen from more than a thousand victims across the state.
Detectives believe the documents were stolen from cars and homes and used to open fraudulent bank accounts in victims’ names. Seized evidence includes bags of driver’s licenses, credit cards, credit card swipers, Social Security cards, and a list of thousands of names and Social Security numbers. It is difficult to estimate the total financial loss as the investigation is still underway, but so far the number is into the high thousands, and sure to increase.
According to court documents, the suspect admits being involved in identity theft in order to support his drug habit.
It is important to observe basic security precautions to protect your identity, like using a locked mailbox and checking your online statements often. But while you can store paperwork containing personal information in a locked safe and refrain from keeping sensitive documents in your car, there’s little you can do to ensure the safety of your personal information when it’s stored by corporations and government agencies.
Consumers should consider an identity theft protection product that offers daily credit monitoring, proactive identity surveillance, lost wallet protection, and alerts when suspicious activity is detected on their accounts. McAfee Identity Protection includes all these features, as well as immediate assistance from fraud resolution agents if your identity is ever compromised. For additional tips, visit CounterIdentityTheft.com.