Identity theft is the country’s fastest growing crime. Each year more than 15 million people are victims and over $50 billion in is lost in damages from identity theft.
It can happen anywhere, even at your favorite lunch spot. In New York, employees of a popular soup chain was involved in an identity theft ring that allegedly stole credit card information, reports CBS New York.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has just indicted 11 defendants, charging them in connection with stealing credit and debit card info then participating in identity theft and fraud as well as grand larceny and forgery. Iesha Jackson of the Bronx worked at Hale & Hearty Soups and allegedly used a skimming device to steal credit and debit card data from customers. She got the device from her boyfriend, 39-year-old Gerald Spears of the Bronx, who along with Samuel Santana, were involved with a crew that are accused of using the data to acquire $90,000 worth of jewelry, clothing and electronics, as well as cash advances.
Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance wants tougher penalties for those such as Spears who are involved in identity theft, calling the laws on the books “outdated.”
“I am urging the legislature to make easy fixes that would give prosecutors stronger, more effective tools to combat cybercriminals,” he said. “For example, under current laws, which were largely written more than a decade ago, a defendant who uses the identity of one victim to steal $2,000 is facing the same top charge as a defendant who assumes the identity of 250 victims to steal $500,000. This does not reflect the enormous impact that identity theft is having on innocent individuals and businesses.”
WikiHow suggests steps you can take avoid becoming a victim of ID theft.
–Shred all documents containing personal information.
–Use different passwords for your accounts.
–Check your credit regularly for strange purchases.
–“Protect your computer. Many identity thieves now use complex software such as spyware and keyloggers to obtain sensitive information such as passwords and login details without the user’s knowledge,” reports WikiHow. Make sure to use a strong and regularly updated firewall, anti-virus program and anti-spyware program.
–Be careful of phishing scams that send you emails asking you to verify such things as passwords, account numbers or credit/Social Security details. So never respond to unsolicited or unwanted emails. “Avoid opening emails that don’t make sense to you or that come from people or organizations that you don’t recognize… Be doubly suspicious if the email ends up in your spam folder,” reports WikiHow.