Frankfort, KY. (September 3, 2016) – Attorney General Ben Chandler was joined by representatives of law enforcement agencies today to announce the arrest of 22 individuals charged with various crimes connected to identity theft, all of which are felonies.
The announcement coincides with National Consumer Protection Week (February 2-8), which focuses on information security. Roberta Bottom, a U.S. Postal Inspector, participated in the event and listed ways to prevent identity theft.
The individuals arrested are charged with creating and/or supplying forms of fraudulent personal identification, such as driver’s licenses, social security cards, and immigration cards, to be sold.
The arrests follow a four-month investigation in Fayette and Boone counties by several authorities including the Lexington Police Department, United States Secret Service, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Social Security Administration, Boone County Sheriff’s Office, Kentucky State Police, Erlanger Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Defense, and the Office of the Attorney General.
During the investigation, numerous fraudulent documents and document blanks, cash, narcotics, and weapons were seized.
“Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the nation, and became the number one consumer complaint in 2002, ” said Chandler. “Complaints about identity theft have reached 6,000 a day, which is 43 percent of all consumer complaints. This amounts to a loss of almost one billion dollars a year, costs that will ultimately be passed on to consumers.”
Bottoms and Chandler encourage consumers to protect themselves. To minimize risk consumers should:
- Promptly remove all mail from the mailbox after delivery.
- Never give personal information over the telephone.
- Shred financial information before disposing.
- Order a recent credit report once a year to check for discrepancies.
- If suspicious activity occurs, notify credit bureaus to put fraud alerts on credit records.
- Sign all new credit cards immediately upon receipt.
- Keep receipts and check all statements as soon as they arrive.
- Report all lost or stolen credit cards immediately.
- Use caution when disclosing personal financial data on any web site.