Protect Yourself from Fraud and Identity Theft this Holiday Season

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News From Around the Country

Identity theft is on the rise.

More than 162 million records have been reported lost or stolen in 2007. That's three times more than the more than 49 million that went missing last year. It's happened in Austin, too. The personal information, including the social security numbers of 22 students, was posted on a University of Texas Web site. At Seton, a man stole a laptop computer from an office, which potentially put more than 7,000 people at risk.

Identity Theft Ring in DeSoto County.

Police say dozens of bank accounts in North Mississippi are being cleaned out by identity thieves. Federal agents have joined the DeSoto County Sheriff's Office and Hernando Police in their investigation.

Police say the thieves are using stolen credit card numbers to buy a variety of items such as jet skis, cars, and gas.

ID theft victim Buddy Murdock says about $400 was taken from his account.

"We have no idea how they got our card number and it blows my mind how they can use it... but I've been told they make a card and use it as a credit card," said Murdock.

Murdock is one of the dozens of victims in the Hernando area. According to police, card numbers stolen from local victims are being used across the country. Police say the numbers are mostly being used in Texas and Florida; police are trying to figure out how the crooks got the card information.

Sheriff's department detectives say they have interviewed an employee from a gas station and employees from stores in a Hernando shopping center. Detectives believe the people stealing the card numbers may be connected to a south Florida identity theft ring.

Tis the season -for ID theft.

City men who recently hacked into bank computer networks across the United States to steal credit card numbers are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to identity theft in Edmonton, say police.

In fact, during the busiest shopping season of the year, they're warning consumers to avoid using credit and debit when possible and keep their personal information tightly guarded.

For every pair police catch, they figure there are dozens of criminals out there in the City of Champions, where debit and credit fraud is rapidly becoming popular among all kinds of criminal.

"It's so easy for them," said Det. Bob Gauthier of the Edmonton Police Service. "That's just one of the many scams out there these days. It's just rampant."
The pair in question targeted small banks in smaller communities, said Gauthier, until they found those with poor network protection.

Crook trying to steal credit card info by impersonating police officer

NAPLES: Police say someone is trying to steal credit card information from restaurants and other businesses by impersonating officers.Investigators at the Naples Police Department say someone claiming to be an detective recently called Vergina's, a restaurant on Fifth Avenue. The caller said that the department was investigating a credit card scheme and needed the business to hand over credit card numbers and receipts from the night before.

Managers were suspicious, so instead of turning over the information they called police and the investigation began.

Carmichael Man Pleads Guilty to Identity Theft

A Carmichael man pleaded guilty on Monday to conspiracy, bank fraud, aggravated identity theft and possession of stolen mail in a conspiracy with more than 50 victims.

Spartanburg Woman Charged With Identity Theft

A federal grand jury indicted a Spartanburg woman on identity theft charges. April Nicole Garrett, 34, of Spartanburg, is charged in a four-count indictment with credit card fraud, aggravated identity theft, and purposefully misdirecting the mail.

The indictment alleges that Garrett stole the identity of another person in order to obtain and use credit cards. Investigators said Garrett forged a postal form so that she could redirect the victim's mail.

If found guilty, Garrett could face a fine of $1 million and a prison sentence of up to 19 years.

The investigation was conducted by the Office of the United States Postal Inspector.

Former postal worker sentenced in identity theft case

READING, Pa. - A former Berks County postal worker is heading to prison for participating in an identity theft scheme.

Officials from the District Attorney's office say William Butler was sentenced this week to 6 to 23 months in prison.

Police say Butler and his former girlfriend, passport clerk Kim McKnight Jimenez, of Exeter Township, used their positions at the Gus Yatron General Mail Facility to steal information from at least 19 passport applicants and obtain medical-benefit and credit cards in their own names.

Green Bay man charged here with identity theft, forgery

A 19-year-old Green Bay man is facing four felony charges in Sheboygan County after allegedly using his brother's identity to get a driver's license and forge three checks, according to a criminal complaint released Wednesday.

Nicholas A. Doran was charged Tuesday with identity theft and three counts of forgery, totaling up to 12 years in prison if convicted. According to the complaint: Doran used his brother's name, birth date and Social Security number to obtain a driver's license in Green Bay. That ID card was then used in February to cash three checks totaling $4,251 at Kohler Credit Union locations in Sheboygan and Howards Grove. Doran's brother, Joshua, was in prison at the time the checks were cashed. The checks were written on the account of an Appleton business and made out to Joshua Doran. Nicholas Doran told police he got the checks from a friend in Green Bay.

He told police he got the driver's license in his brother's name two years ago in order to get an apartment.

Identity theft lands wrong man in Albuquerque jail for six days November 07

Erik Lea found himself in a world of trouble, only it wasn't Erik Lea who got himself there.

Not entirely, at least.

On Sept. 23, the 28-year-old Albuquerque man was arrested after having a heated argument with his girlfriend over his coming home late. No one was physically harmed, but it was a troubling scene nevertheless.

That's bad enough. But days after he was booked into the Metropolitan Detention Center, a routine records check uncovered an outstanding warrant for his arrest on 2005 narcotics charges on which he had skipped out. As a result of the warrant, his bail shot from $5,000 to $20,000 cash only, a guarantee that he wouldn't be free anytime soon.

Only the warrant wasn't his.

The trouble, it turns out, began not at the point of Lea's arrest but in 2002 when he left his wallet in a phone booth. Lea believes someone took his Social Security card from the wallet and used it to claim Lea's information as his own -- a handy thing when committing traffic citations and criminal charges.

Identity theft of this kind ruins not just a good credit rating but forces otherwise law-abiding citizens to helplessly suffer the criminal consequences of those who do wrong in their name.

Don't let the identity thief grinch steal you -or your happiness this holiday season!

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