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NY Attorney General Advises Consumers to Protect their Identity

By Faye Mergel
Published: Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

The New York State Attorney General might be giving out greeting cards this holiday season, but he wants to send out a different message to consumers: “Protect your identity.” His office notes that several areas in the state are very prone to identity crimes, prompting specialists to offer advices. Among those tips would be a regular credit report check, to detect and deter any crime against consumer identity.

NY Attorney General Advises Consumers to Protect their IdentityLong Island has a significantly lower population than New York City but is has more cases of identity theft per capita, according to Lori Pack, Suffolk County’s assistant attorney general during a presentation to the East Hampton Rotary Club this week.

In urban areas, people are very cautious of theft. But Ms. Pack observes that people in rural areas tend to be less alert, others neglecting the possibility of ID theft, which places them in a very great danger. She said many national scams trace their origin in Long Island, such as cameras installed ATM machines to record the personal identifying number (PIN) of credit and debit card holders. Waitresses in restaurant chains were also caught doing similar crimes against consumer identity.

Ms. Pack said waitresses involved in fraud swipe the card of consumers, record personal information, and give them to someone else. The district attorney’s offices in Suffolk and Nassau County have bureaus specializing in ID theft, but she explains that such crimes are becoming more difficult to fight because they are quite complicated. Additionally, fraudsters use advanced technology and varying methods. Investigators say consumers can better protect themselves if they take the initiative to do so.

East Hampton police officers recorded ten ID crimes as of late, some of them originating as far as Spain, Jamaica, and London. Authorities say most people do not notice that some already took their identity until they pull out their credit report or until they find out that their accounts are empty upon making a purchase. Ms. Pack tells consumers that it is best to limit the credit their plastics contain to make them less appealing to fraudsters.

The attorney general’s office also advises consumers not to carry too many credit cards since they become more susceptible to ID theft as they increase the number of items in their credit report.

Additionally, consumers are advised by local investigators to check their credit report regularly to know if there are fraudulent items popping up under their accounts. Specialists say there are ways to get a credit report for free so consumers must not miss out on it.

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