Tri-State Identity Theft on the Rise...Watch Your Credit Cards This Christmas - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Tri-State Identity Theft on the Rise...Watch Your Credit Cards This Christmas

Terrance Bates, reporter
Jill Seiler, web producer

Identity theft has made news headlines across the country. Just this week, law enforcement shut down the nations largest credit card ring, which defrauded victims of an estimated $3 million. And it's a problem that's surfacing here in the tri-state as well.

"This time of the year, I try to be more careful than ever", says Julie Adams. "I try to make sure I put everything back where its supposed to be and watch who's around me."

Most people are happy and going about their daily routines, but you never know when a thief could be on the prowl. "Birth dates, social security numbers, mothers last names and if they can get it, banking information. They look for that kind of information so that they can take over a persons identity", explains Tom Bozikis at the Better Business Bureau.

"We just want people to be mindful of their credit identifiers, their name identifiers, anything that a person can use to gain access to money or your credit". Detective Kurt Pritchett says since January there have been 44 cases of identity deception reported in the city of Evansville alone.

"What we find the most is people who use people's identifiers for, either to get checks or pass counterfeit checks."

Indiana attorney general Steve Carter says the average American will spend about $661 dollars on Christmas presents. Most of those transactions will take place with credit cards, which are also a favorite among identity thieves.

Bozikis says if you suspect credit fraud report it to one of the major credit reporting agencies. He says it will affect your credit rating. "It can take up to two years to get this all cleared up and sorted out."

But there is some good news, "If it's an existing account many credit card companies won't even hold you responsible for any of that. Under law, you're responsible for only the first $50 dollars of any fraudulent use of your card."

But during busy shopping times like this when consumers are prone to spend a little extra, detectives suggest you only use your credit information at places you really trust and deal with on a regular basis.

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