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Local efforts to deter identity theft

Aug 02, 2013 Dave King

Law enforcement officials and regulators continue to increase efforts to reduce the rate of identity theft, while tactics have become refined and some believe the strategies are beginning to work. One of the most effective methods of deterring the crime is raising awareness among consumers and businesses, as those entities on the ground level will be the most likely to catch an instance of theft early.

Businesses need to refine ID verification practices to better defend against this crime and others, especially as thieves continue to target companies more regularly. Protecting consumers' identities can make the difference between continued, successful operations and damaged reputations or incurred financial losses.

Local law enforcement steps up
WAVE 3 News, a Louisville, Kentucky-based ABC affiliate, recently reported that law enforcement in the city is starting to look for more progressive methods of identifying and stopping criminal activity. According to the news provider, the Louisville Metro Police are looking to be the leaders of an effort that will hopefully improve the state's currently poor history with identity theft.

Kentucky and neighboring Indiana have had some of the highest rates of identity theft in the nation, ranking 39th and 33rd, respectively, in 2012. Now, with the support of regional law enforcement departments and federal funding, police agencies from around Kentucky and Indiana have more opportunities to learn about identity theft and the best practices to defend against the crime.

The source noted that new technology is also being leveraged in the training courses, while educators are looking to teach police officers about the tools identity thieves use. One device is called a skimmer, which is commonly implanted in a card swipe appliance used by retailers.

"This device can hold up to a thousand numbers," Paige Hanson, one of the instructors, explained. "So if you have ever given your credit card to let's say a waiter or a waitress, and they step away and you don't see your card, all they have to do is swipe the credit card in this. And it stores your credit card information. You can buy, sell, trade that online."

More education for law enforcement professionals, businesses and consumers will likely help reduce the rate of identity theft crimes in the coming years.

Massachusetts offers refresher courses
The Register recently reported that the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation is offering residents, local businesses and visitors to Hyannis lessons on identity protection. The news provider explained that the instructors involved in the courses intend to teach best practices of ID verification, as well as the common signs that indicate when an instance of identity theft has occurred.

Checking credit reports regularly, only doing business with companies that can be trusted and keeping all online accounts secure are among the most common and effective methods of avoiding identity theft. According to the source, the experts believe that while technology is changing rapidly, especially among businesses, the tactics used to steal identity are very similar. Thus, simple steps toward better ID verification are effective in the fight against the crime.