Identity Theft: How thieves steal your identity - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Identity Theft: How thieves steal your identity

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It happens at stores, ATMs, and online. Identity theft is everywhere.

"A lot of people get away with this crime," said Detective Tom Woolard, Greenville P.D. Financial Crimes Unit. He sees firsthand how easy it is for your identity to get into the wrong hands. "Any time your data is compiled and stored, nowadays, someone can access it."
So how are thieves getting it?
There are many ways. Sometimes they steal it. Other times they trick you into handing it over.

"Can you completely protect yourself from identity theft? " we asked Woolard, "In today's modern society, with all the conveniences we have, with everything that we do to simply live and exist, in my opinion, no."
Woolard said identity theft has moved past the days of crooks just digging through the trash, especially as technology gets better.

"There are individuals out there with extensive computer background training who have decided it's much more profitable to access large amounts of data and then sell that data to those individuals who want to use the information to make 1000 here or 5000 there," said Woolard.
Let's face it, nowadays, everything is online, but sometimes, convenience can lead to compromise.

"It opened a whole new world of electronic surveillance for those who want to accomplish this," said Woolard.
Even something as simple as Facebook can start the ball rolling for someone looking for your info.

"Going on these sites with your name, your general location of residents, possibly a phone number opens you to exploitation by the individuals who can then track you information," said Woolard. "And then, when you start pulling different information sources together to pin down to an individual."
Another tool for thieves is a simple phone call.

"Were seeing a very large increase in the telephone scams," said Woolard.
You've probably gotten the scam calls before; a prize, a grant or, an excess of government funds.
Sometimes the bad guys want your money. Other times, they're after your personal information.
And Woolard said the main problem behind all identity theft, it's almost impossible to track.

"Were able to solve the local crimes," said Woolard. "We have a good track record of solving these and bringing people to prosecution for the crimes but those crimes that occur out of state, out of our jurisdiction are very difficult for us to do anything about."

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