Wisconsin Resident Falls Victim To Identity Theft

One Beloit, Wisconsin woman thought she was taking the necessary steps to protect herself against identity theft but was surprised to find out that it wasn’t enough.

According to AARP, identity theft in 2008 increased 12 percent for Wisconsin residents.

Judy Joslin-Crary said she shredded documents, refused preapproved credit applications and refused to talk to telemarketers searching for information.

Still, she said she became a victim of identify theft.

“To this day, I have no clue how. I have no clue,” said Joslin-Crary.

A letter from Chase Bank was the first sign that, despite her efforts, her identity had been stolen.

“They had received an application that I wanted to open an account and they wanted to verify some information,” said Joslin-Crary.

The letter was real, but it was sent to an old address and didn’t use her hyphenated name.

She said someone else opened the account using her Social Security number.

“They wanted to transfer a $1,300 balance. I just get chills when I say that,” said Joslin-Crary.

Through her experience, Joslin-Crary is looking to educate others by joining AARP’s “Fraud Fighters.”

“It’s almost a retraining process, where we’re getting people to really think about how the new technology we have in 2009 really impacts their liability to becoming a victim of fraud,” said AARP State Program Coordinator Jeanne Benink.

AARP events like this weekend’s “Shred Fest” provide resources for those who are seeking for information on prevention and recovery.

“You should always be contacting your police department first, and getting a case, because then if it does come to be brought to light that there’s an actual fraud committed. You can go ahead and contact the credit bureaus, and have a credit freeze placed on your account at no charge,” said Benink.

Joslin-Crary said she knows her information is no longer private, but without the letter from Chase, she feared her experience could have been far worse.

“I was a year away from retirement, going on a fixed income, and a lower income, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. If that had happened now, we would be hard put to take care of that,'” said Joslin-Crary.

Many victims of fraud and identity theft keep their stories secret, but officials said they need to come forward.

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