AG: identity theft will not be tolerated

RALEIGH Mary Fitzpatrick-Bowen, 81, says she is cautious when it comes to giving out her information to telemarketers.

"I question anyone that calls me and I don't give any information out whatsoever," Bowen said.

However, despite being extra careful, she too became one of the millions who fall victim to identity theft each year.

"We found out they had charged over $500 on me and I had not charged anything, especially not a phone," Bowen said.

That phone according to T-Mobile along with additional minutes were charged on her Discover card, they called to see if she had any additional charges in mind, that's when she found out someone stole her account number.

"I don't use the computer to do charges on on-line," she said.

That is why Attorney General Roy Cooper and the North Carolina Bankers Association want to get the message out to help consumers like Bowen fight back.

"We want to send the strong message that this will not be tolerated," Cooper said.

And with a busy holiday shopping season, thieves are shopping for victims.

    Officials recommend you do the following to prevent ID theft:
  • Shred financial papers.
  • Drop check payments in the post office box, not the mailbox. If thieves see the red flag they could steal your account number off your bill.
  • Never give your information to anyone, on-line or on the phone.

Fitzpatrick-Bowen says she feels the holidays and economy are hitting people bad.

"I think with the holiday coming the way the economy is, it is a critical time for people who don't have money, and they'll do anything I guess to hurt people," she said.

If someone does steal your identity contact your credit bureau, file an affidavit with creditors saying that you are not the person making the charges and file a police report.

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