Local News

ID Theft Remains Crime On Rise

Posted January 6, 2004

— Identity theft remains on the rise. In fact, it is the fastest growing crime in North Carolina. Last year, 286,000 people in the state fell victim to ID theft. Authorities predict even higher numbers this year.

Shredding documents is a good start to securing your personal information, but it is not a guarantee. Identity thieves can rob your numbers without you even knowing.

Tony and Barbara Ferrell still do not know who stole Tony's name or how it was done, but in December, they found out they had been robbed blind.

"A lady called and said we were 2½ months behind on payments," Barbara Ferrell said.

Then the Ferrells received a letter stating the warranty on their new car was about to expire. The problem is -- they do not have a new car.

The Ferrells' story is just one of thousands reported last year in North Carolina. Attorney General Roy Cooper said identity theft will continue to grow.

"I think a lot of times your everyday criminals are turning to identity theft because they think there's less chance of getting caught," Cooper said.

The attorney general wants to change that by arming law enforcement with the tools to catch the high-tech thieves.

"We've got to use technology to fight technology," he said.

For the Ferrells, it is too late. Their information is out there, destroying their good name and they do not know who to blame.

"I don't like not knowing what's happening, I don't like not being in control," Barbara Ferrell said.

She considers herself careful with her information and said if identity theft it can happen to her, it can happen to anyone.

If you think you are a victim of identity theft, call the state Attorney General's Office at (877) ID-THEFT to receive a victim's kit.

To protect yourself from identity theft, do not give personal information to callers. Shred paperwork that contains credit card numbers and check your credit report at least twice a year for suspicious activity.

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