Identity Theft Can Happen To You

Every week Crescenta Valley Sheriff's Station takes reports from victims of identity theft. It is a growing crime statistic with perpetrators that work either in groups or as individuals. Victims sometimes do not realize they have been victimized until they attempt to get a loan or are denied for a credit card because of their now damaged financial history. That is why law enforcement officials from the CV Sheriff's department and the U.S. Secret Service warn citizens to be alert and understand that anyone can become a victim of identity theft.

There are many ways personal information can be obtained by others. In recent CV Sheriff's Station reports many La Cañadans have reported stolen recycle bins and mail taken from their mailbox. This, said Detective Roger Burt of the CV Sheriff's Station, is a way personal information can be obtained.

In one La Cañada case, someone stole a credit card out of one mailbox and checks that had been mailed to a local resident out of another mailbox.

"They used the credit card, then paid it with the stolen checks," Burt said.

"Folks that have a mailbox on the curb should have a locking mailbox," said Clarence Jorif, special agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

Throughout the day many people approach your home that have access to your mail and can gather information on your life. The people that walk up to your door to drop off fliers can also check your mail, and even take a few envelopes without you being home, Jorif said.

He also warns not to leave items in mailboxes for the postal worker to pickup.

"If I see a mailbox with the red flag up that tells the bad guy, 'It's okay I've got mail here to be taken,'" Jorif said.

. Jorif suggested the best way to protect your mail is by investing in a secure mailbox that locks.

Next week: Recycling is good for the environment but it's also a great way for identity theft opportunists to get residents' personal information and go on a buying spree.

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