Identity theft: America’s fastest growing crime

Today’s versions of John Dilinger or Baby Face Nelson are more likely to use a laptop computer than a gun. Logging on to the internet under an alias is quite a bit safer than robbing a bank. This is why Identity Theft is America’s fastest growing crime. In Pennsylvania the number of victims of identity theft runs into the tens of thousands.

There are numerous ways a criminal can obtain one’e identity. Some of the more obvious methods of obtaining identifying infromation would be; stealing a person’s preapproved credit card applications from their mail, a store employee recording credit card numbers while processing consumer transactions, or stealing someone’s wallet or purse and using the credit cards contained inside.

Here are the more sophisticated methods. An employee of an Internet Service Provider can be paid off to allow the criminal access to numerous customer e-mail accounts. Or an employee of a company’s payroll department can be encouraged to provide the employment applications of job candidates to the thief.

Now how do we protect ourselves from these invasions, the following are suggestions from the US Postal Inspectors:

1. Place all outgoing mail in a blue postal box instead of a residential mail box.

2. Shred all preapproved credit applications, financial statements, and old credit cards.

3. Order a copy of your credit report once per year and check for any unauthorized purchases.

4. Limit the amount of information that you put over the phone or internet.

Here are the steps you should take when your identity has already been compromised.

1. File a police report.

2. Obtain a complete copy of the Identity Theft Affidavit.

3. Close all compromised accounts.

4. Place a fraud alert with the credit bureaus.

5. Request that credit reporting bureaus block fraudulent information.

6. File a complaint witht he Federal Trade Commission.

For more detailed nformation and procedures Pennsylvania residents can access the PA Attorney General’s website: Click on the Consumers tab then scroll down to Identity Theft toolkit. You can also call Identity Theft Shield at 1-866-510-7907 or log on to for further information on what people can do BEFORE they become victims of identity thef.


One Response to “Identity theft: America’s fastest growing crime”

  1. Thank you for your post, and letting readers know that the cash register is in fact where most ID theft originates. When they ask you for your ID to use your credit card, they are NOT doing you a favor. If you must show it, cover your zip code.

    For many other protections pointers, see

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