Privileged Information - Part Three

By: Sarah Goebel Email
By: Sarah Goebel Email

Between eight and 10 million cases of identity theft occur a year. That breaks down to 19 a minute, one every three seconds.

FBI statistics show identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America. According to Warren County Sheriff's Department Detective Tim Aussbrooks, identity thieves could have your personal information without you even knowing. The key is knowing how to protect yourself.

Experts say if you fall victim to identity theft it could take you more than a year and several thousand dollars to get your life back to normal, and depending of the severity of the case you may never recover. By the time a victim of identity theft finds out they're a victim it's usually too late.
"When your information gets into the black-market, so to speak, of information thieves it's going to stay out there. Somebody will use it, sell it and the next guy will use it and sell it. It will just travel the information highway potentially forever," said Jeff Nicholas of ADRS Consulting.

Aussbrooks said identity theft cases are hard to track especially Internet crimes.

"Automatically we have to refer them to the FBI because they monitor certain web sites like yahoo and a lot of those web sites. They have better resources to track those people down than we do," Aussbrooks said.

The Warren County Sheriff's Department averages about six identity theft cases a month but deals with it on a daily basis. Nationally only one in 700 people who commit identity theft get caught and prosecuted.

In his 30 years, how many people has Aussbrooks been able to arrest and make a case on identity theft, according to the detective it was pretty slim.

If you're a victim of identity theft and the thief is caught you still may never recover.

"Identity theft is getting more and more costly to not only consumers but you take somebody who may have used your credit card for $200 or $300 in another state. In order for us to prosecute something like that your talking $30,000 or $40,000 prosecution wise," Aussbrooks said.

The best way to protect yourself is to get a credit report at least once a year, take care of your paper trails, shred your trash, don't write checks and don't leave your information lying around.

"When people that are a victim of identity theft find out from a financial standpoint from the credit card company or from the bank they should contact the DMV, social security office, get a copy of their medical records and find out if they've been compromised in other areas," Nicholas said.

Nicholas also says most people don't realize identity theft can hurt you in more ways then just financially because you have a financial identity, social security identity, medical identity and a criminal identity.
All aspects of your life can be compromised so make sure you keep track of everything. Nicholas said 52 percent of identity theft is committed by people you know.

To learn more on how to fight back against identity theft click here.

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