Local News

U.S. Secret Service Unveils New Tool In Fight Against Identity Theft

Posted July 30, 2003

— Every year, officials say 20,000 North Carolinians have their identity ripped off. The federal government unveiled a new tool Tuesday designed to help local law enforcement help victims.

Nearly two and a half years ago, Dennis and Brenda Hayes said their nightmare began.

"Someone got my Social Security number, my date of birth and my name," Dennis said.

"There was a stack of letters and they were threatening, saying you have to pay and you have to take care of this," Brenda said.

Dennis and Brenda Hayes realized that they were victims of identity theft. They said the more frustrating part of the situation was that they said authorities seemed unwilling to help at first.

"This third time, they actually told us to stop calling them," Dennis said. "No one knew how to go about doing anything about it."

The

U.S. Secret Service

is hoping to change that. The agency is sending out a packet of information to every state and local police department in the country. The packet includes a VHS tape and a CD-ROM designed to educate local law enforcement agencies about identity theft.

"A lot of times, it's the frontline officer on the street that helps us build multi-million dollar cases," said Craig Ulmer, of the U.S. Secret Service.

Trent Spencer, the man suspected of stealing Dennis Hayes' identity, was finally arrested. Lawmakers are also trying to stamp out ID theft. A bill that would toughen penalties for those who illegally sell information has passed the House and Senate.

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