12 News Defenders: Identity Theft - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

12 News Defenders: Identity Theft

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

"It's an ongoing thing; they steal your identity.  It destroys your life," says Maria Chen who knows her identity was stolen online.  

The suspect literally took everything. "He had withdrawn all of my money out of the bank and opened up credit cards in my name." Maria's bank alerted her.

When she found out her money was gone and her credit destroyed, she was angry. Maria immediately went to police, who were able to track down the suspect and arrest him. She also put alerts on her accounts. Yet somehow when the suspect got out of jail, he was able to use her personal information again. 

U.S. Postal Inspector Carla Menendez says, "The bad guys are calling in with all the personal identifying information of the victim."  Once they do that, they essentially can get access to your credit card account. They can add themselves as users, get their own card with their name on it and start charging on your account. The vicious cycle starts all over again.

Some advice from postal inspectors: safeguard your personal information at all times.  Menendez adds,"One thing we always recommend is to check your credit once a year to make sure no fraudulent activity has happened."

Also, never carry your social security with you. Leave it at home in a safe place.  The FTC has more tips to protect your identity and what you should do immediately, if you identity is stolen.  You can find that information here.

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