Tips from THP on how to protect your identity

Tips from THP on how to protect your identity

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"If your home gets broken into, make sure your birth certificate and your social security cards, and all your personal identifiers are secured in a safe location," said Trooper Kevin Kimbrough. "If your home gets broken into, make sure your birth certificate and your social security cards, and all your personal identifiers are secured in a safe location," said Trooper Kevin Kimbrough.

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Identity theft has grown to such a degree that the Tennessee Highway Patrol has set up a special unit dedicated to investigating these crimes.

It goes beyond stolen credit card numbers. Victims can lose their reputations as well, with the impact following them for years wherever they go.

THP's identity crimes unit was formed in 2012. Since then, they've made hundreds of felony arrests for financial crimes. Troopers say over the holidays the number of identity crimes skyrocket, but there are steps people can take to help protect themselves from becoming a victim.

Trooper Kevin Kimbrough is a member of the 12-person identity crimes unit. THP's command staff created the unit after recognizing ongoing problems at driver's license stations across the state.

"There was driver's license fraud being perpetrated through the driver's license stations," said Trooper Kimbrough.

The group is committed to combating all forms of identity theft. Recently, Kimbrough arrested a man in East Tennessee for allegedly using a California man's identity for the last 15 years.

"The individual who had stolen his ID had even married using the victim's information," said Kimbrough.

The alleged victim Joseph Hurtado says his information was stolen when he filled out a job application. It turned out to be a scam.

"Oh, I'm miserable. I had a lot of sleepless nights," said Hurtado.

Hurtado's license was suspended, costing him a job. He was even issued tickets all because he says someone else was pretending to be him. Hurtado was also getting bills.

"I had received some bills from Tennessee from a medical center in excess of $10,000. That wasn't me," said Hurtado.

To help avoid becoming a victim, Kimbrough says to apply and shop directly on businesses' websites. Do not enter personal information through a link. Always make sure the website is secure. Kimbrough says you will see a padlock at on the page. Also, hide all documents containing personal information.

"If your home gets broken into, make sure your birth certificate and your social security cards, and all your personal identifiers are secured in a safe location," said Kimbrough.

Kimbrough says thieves are using credit and debit card readers called "skimmers" to steal your information.

"They install them onto ATMs. They install them onto gas pumps. These things are installed anywhere you may use a credit or a debit card," said Kimbrough.

Kimbrough says if you see any evidence of tampering on a card reader machine, don't use it and notify the company's manager.

According to THP, another way to protect yourself is to ask where your personal information is being stored. For example, with an application ask the human resources person if the information provided will be secure.

If you are a victim of an identity crime call your local authorities. There are also resources on THP's website.

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