Preventing Identity Theft

- "Has anyone been a victim of identity theft?" asks Deirdre Burke, a representative from the Consumer Affairs Division of State Comptroller, Judy Baar Topinka's office.

It's a question staffers like Burke ask frequently, and, find that far too many people in Illinois are answering with a resounding, "Yes!" For example, people like Sandra Locke. In her case, her husband is the victim.

"Somebody from Stockton, CA was using my husband's name, birthdate, and social security number to apply for credit cards," Locke recalls.

It's a nightmare she's been working to solve since the fall.

"The first time we found $800 worth of charges on his debit card when it was a time when he was in hospitalization," Locke states.

It's a problem people gathered at Healing Pathways, in Rockford, to learn how to prevent.

"Well, I want them to come together as a community and learn together. That's what we do. We open our doors once a month to those people who are in the community to see what we do here, and I want people to come away with a sense of empowerment and hope," adds Ann Blee, Program Director for Healing Pathways.

Locke says the information Burke presented, is exactly what identity theft victims need to hear, "It feels very, very intimidating. And, you just have to keep your wits about you and know that we will keep working through authorities, and, this will eventually get straightened out. Then, we will be ever, ever more watchful."
Burke says vigilance is key, to ensure that you're doing everything you can, to prevent this from happening again.

If you would like more information on how to protect yourself, or to schedule an identity theft prevention workshop, contact the Consumer Affairs Division of the State Comptroller’s office at (217) 782-2673.

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