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Identity theft on the rise in California

Jul 04, 2012 Karen Umpierre

Many consumers don't realize a criminal has been fraudulently taking their money until a debt collection agent contacts them looking for repayment on a fake account. While there are many ways consumers and lenders alike can protect themselves against hackers, a staggering number of individuals still fall prey to thieves each year. People in California have been particularly affected by identity thieves, a recent report found. Individuals and businesses must take special care to protect themselves in the Golden State. CALPIRG report notes more money stolen The California Public Interest Research Group Education Fund (CALPIRG) recently released the Still @ Risk: New Technology & Identity Theft Trends in California report. The research revealed that in 2011, the average victim of an identity theft attack lost $786, while the general loss in 2010 totaled $82. The largest problems many California victims fae are from new technologies, the survey explained. Bluetooth hackings, malware, card skimmers and unsecured WiFi attacks are among some of the new ways criminals are attacking individuals. "Customers need to stay on their toes, as new technology provides criminals with new opportunities to steal our identity online, at business and even at home," CALPIRG consumer advocate Jon Fox explained. CALPIRG also published strategies both individuals and businesses can use to ensure they don't fall victim to criminals. The source said people should guard their Social Security number, lock their inbox and change passwords, not repeating them among website accounts. Thief plaguing San Diego recently caught Law enforcement agents are also taking more precautions and focusing more on potential identity thieves. According to KNSD-TV, police in San Diego recently arrested a criminal that stole $40,000 from members at a fitness club. The source detailed police took Christopher Polley into custody, charging him with two counts of identity theft, among other crimes. Police believe Polley used his position as a former employee at Mission Beach's Wave House Athletic Club to steal patron data to be used fraudulently. KNSD reported Polley used the members' credit card numbers to complete online transactions on "Bill Me Later" accounts, so as to evade law enforcement. The police do not know if they have identified all of Polley's victims, and expect the total loss to increase if there are more.