Watch Who You Trust: ID Thief Was Family's Close Neighbor - WBAY

Target 2 Consumer Alert

Watch Who You Trust: ID Thief Was Family's Close Neighbor

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It's a story that serves as a good reminder to be careful who you trust.

A family learned that lesson when a neighbor stole their identity.

San Juanita Avina says it started to unfold when her father made a trip to the local Walmart store and tried to use his credit card.  He was told the card was closed.

"Why?"

"It's 'maxed out.'"

"I never use my card, how could it be over-maxed?"

It turns out her father's identity had been stolen, and the credit card he rarely used had a $1,000 balance.
 
Walmart started looking into the problem, and said multiple cards had been issued for the account, including one to a daughter named "Maria."

"I called them back and said, 'there is no such person as Maria Avina, that is not my name,'" said San Juanita.

The family suspected a long-time neighbor was involved, and as they talked to postal inspectors, they learned they were right.

"She purposely befriended them, tried to make it look as though she was a caretaker, friend to them, and somebody who was trustworthy," said Mary Johnson, U.S. Postal Inspector.

Postal inspectors say this is a common practice for identity thieves.

"She did that in order to obtain their identifying information, so she can become an added user on their current cards and to open up new cards," said Johnson. "She had utility bills put in their name for her personal house."

The ID thief was arrested, confessed and sent to prison.

"She thought I was going to leave her alone and just let it go by and not take care of it," said Avina. "No, uh-uh. No. You did wrong. You abused my dad and now you're abusing me."

Inspectors say we are all vulnerable to identity theft.

"It seems to be an ever-evolving crime," said Johnson. "There is no set tone of victim right now. It's elderly, children, middle aged, college students, anybody and everybody can be a target of ID theft."

Here are some tips to help protect your identity:

 

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