Identity Theft: It Can Happen to You

Part I: Identity Theft: It Can Happen to You

A Wood County man falls victim to identity theft. When Blake Ritchie was serving overseas in the Navy he tried to open a credit card, but was denied. That is when he requested a credit report and noticed about $20,000 in charges that were not his.

He ignored the problem.

When he came off of deployment and tried to refinance his vehicle, he was denied again.
This time his credit report showed he was $60,000 in debt.

Eventually, that number rose to $125,000. Some of the charges were utility bills, a car loan and even an apartment.

Blake was a victim of friendly fraud, meaning he thinks he knows who did this to him.

Part II: Identity Theft: It Can Happen to You
Ways it Can Happen to You

If you think identity theft can't happen to you, think again. If you have a social security number and fair credit, your identity can be stolen.

Information listed on bank statements, credit card bills and utility bills is like gold to identity thieves.

Other ways white collar criminals are getting this information is by shoulder surfing, dumpster diving and raiding old computers.

The thief could be the person who sits next to you at work or a family member who knows all your numbers by heart.

People older than 50 are also a target because of their good credit scores. But, these criminals do not just use your numbers for financial reasons. Other ways include getting an apartment, a driver's license or even to get a job.

Identity theft is happening more often. Last year 10 million people were victimized.

Part III: Identity Theft: It Can Happen to You
Ways to Protect Yourself

Tis' the season for identity thieves to be on the prowl. Some things you should be doing to protect yourself:

  • Don't give up personal information unless you know exactly who you are giving it to.
  • Be careful with your mail. Make sure bills and statements come on time every month.
  • Monitor your credit report.
  • Shred important documents.
  • Exercise caution online.

To Get a Credit Report:
Three national agencies can give you a full report. Those are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Those Web sites are:

  • Experian:
  • Equifax:
  • TransUnion:

    To get a credit report it does cost money and all three agencies offer some form of credit monitoring.

    If you are interested in Pre-Paid Legal Services' Identity Theft Protection, you can contact Beverly Stump or Debbie Dotson at 1-888-700-1160 or visit
    Pre-Paid Legal Services.