One fraud victim, who wished to remain anonymous, said thieves got a check she wrote to a Raleigh charity. They made duplicates of the check and a fake driver's license with her personal information. They cashed thousands of dollars worth of checks before the fraud was uncovered.
"This can happen so easy. It can be anyone who can take your identity," she said.
Raleigh Police Chief Jane Perlov addressed credit union employees from across the state Tuesday. She told them how to spot, stop and clean up identity theft.
"They really need to report it to law enforcement," she said. "We do detect patterns. We do detect trends, and we work closely with credit unions and the Bankers Association to root out identity fraud and theft."
"We have been in the situation where we've called people and said, 'Yeah, your identity is stolen,'" said Rob Goldfinger, of the Coastal Federal Credit Union.
Financial institutions are often the first to catch fraud when people apply for credit, accounts or loans with someone else's personal information. They can help people unravel the mess.
"They have to do repair. They have to maintain their lives, and they also have to take a look at preventing, so they don't continue to be victimized by the perpetrators," Goldfinger said.
To protect themselves from identity theft, consumers need to close their accounts, contact the three major credit bureaus -- Equifax, Experian and TransUnion -- and file a police report and a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
If you think you may be a victim, you should call the FTC's ID theft hot line at
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