Identity Theft Victims Sought
September 19, 2012
In a twist on the usual case where identity theft is discovered due to a mistake on a credit report, in Santa Cruz, California, last week, police found that they had to work backwards to locate the victims of this crime. They came upon a pile of stolen mail.
After apprehending two individuals who are under investigation for several charges, including possession of drugs and handguns, police also found account letters belonging to more than 30 different people from the area. The job now is to contact those people and let them know that they have been victimized. If they don’t have identity theft protection plans, it’s likely they have no idea.
The thieves used the information contained in the mail to open credit card accounts, then used these accounts to order items over the Internet. They sold the cash to purchase drugs or to get cash for other criminal activity. It made for quite a successful crime ring.
April Skalland, one of the deputies who responded to the case, said the victims put themselves at risk by leaving their mail in unlocked mailboxes for extended periods of time. She advises people to get their items out of the boxes as soon as possible, and to put their mail on hold if they go on vacation or are away from home for an extended period for any other reason.
A couple other pieces of advice on postal mail:
- Sign up for electronic statements for your accounts if possible. Then have your paper statements cancelled.
- If you have to have important mail sent to you on a regular basis, consider a post office box or having it sent to your workplace so that it doesn’t sit all day.
- Place mail with sensitive information on it into an official post office box; you know, the big blue ones. It’s unlikely a thief will break into one.
- Be vigilant even if you think you live in a safe area. Thieves don’t tend to discriminate too much.