Identity Theft

Tallahassee police have arrested another identity thief, their second such arrest in two days. This time the culprit wasn't sitting in front of a home computer, he was sitting behind bars in state prison.

Just because Damion Goldsmith was serving time in prison, investigators say it didn't stop him from getting credit card numbers and ringing up thousands of dollars worth of furniture from Haverty's, much to the credit card holder’s surprise.

"They received an $8,000 credit card bill and they were like 'We didn't make this purchase.' They contacted the credit card company and they contacted the Tallahassee Police Department," says INV Mark Lewis.

Right now, investigator Lewis is working on nearly 50 identity theft cases. Just Tuesday, his colleagues arrested a Quincy man who they say salvaged credit card receipts from people's trash.

Mailboxes are prime pickings too, this surveillance tape shows an identity thief arrested in California this week, who stole more 10,000 pieces of mail before he was caught.

"People that were committing burglaries, robberies and things like that in the past, doing drugs instead of doing those types of crimes they're doing more identity thefts now because it's much more lucrative," says INV Gina Maddox.

Here are some simple steps you can take to try to protect yourself:

  • Collect your mail every day so thieves can't steal credit card applications.

  • Don't put outgoing bills in your mailbox, or your checks can be stolen and forged.

  • Always shred credit card statements and receipts before disposing of them.

  • Scratch out your account number when you leave a credit card receipt on the table at a local restaurant

  • Check your credit bureau reports at least once a year.

Safeguards are necessary because police say identity theft has blossomed into big business in big cities and small towns.