Arizona leading state in nation for identity theft

Quinn Schuler
9/24/2007 – Arizona is the number one in the nation, recording the highest number of identity theft cases.

Gary Payne says someone stole almost $4,000 out of his bank account, withdrawing money from ATM’s in Argentina.

“I was really scared because I didn’t know how I was going to take care of this. It was a real problem. All of a sudden, all your cash is gone,” Payne said.

So he fell months behind on his payments.

“They had taken all the money out and I basically couldn’t pay for anything,” Payne said.

Police told Payne they believe someone stole his identity from an ATM.

“Evidentially they either had a reader, they were reading off my pin number or they had a camera in there and they were photographing my pin number,” Payne said.

Luis Pimber, Pre-Paid Legal Services, says Payne is just one of thousands of people targeted every year in Arizona.

“I think there are a few different reasons. One, we have a big drug problem with meth. We have a big problem with immigration… We have a big retirement community out here who often falls prey to identity theft,” Pimber said.

Pimber is helping Payne sort out the mess with the creditors, to try to bring his once excellent credit rating back up.

“Hopefully we can start to get things cleaned up and move in the right direction,” Payne said.

There are some things you can do to prevent identity theft. Shred any personal information before throwing it out, don’t give personal information over the phone and use account passwords that are hard to guess.

However, if you are a victim of identity theft, the first thing to do is make a police report, cancel your accounts and then contact the credit bureaus and all of your creditors.

The faster you act, the less liable you are.

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