Victim offers advice after his identity is stolen

Published On: Jan 08 2013 04:11:29 PM EST
Updated On: Jan 08 2013 10:40:00 PM EST

A victim of identity theft is telling his story, hoping others can protect themselves from other criminals out there.

“The thieves knew my personal information, contacted my credit card company and pretended to be me,” said ID theft victim Christopher Hagler.

The identity thieves got credit cards in Hagler's name, along with 19 other victims, and then went on a shopping spree.

“They tried to spend $250,000 on watches, jewelry, purse,” explained US Postal Inspector Eric Shen.

Hagler said, “They went to a jewelry store. They selected a nice-looking gold Rolex for the price tag of $29,000... I was furious. I was also in a bit of disbelief about how cold such a thing happen, especially when I am very cautious about security.”

To avoid having your credit card information end up in the hands of thieves, Hagler has some advice.

"Make sure you’re not using your mother’s maiden name, or any family, genealogical information in your passwords, because a lot of that information is on the web and thieves know how to find it,” he said.

Shen adds, “Don’t have too many credit cards. Check your statements.”

“It’s very unnerving to know that someone out there is pretending to be you… It’s chilling actually,” said Hagler.

Even more chilling: Postal Inspector Shen says once you're a victim of identity theft, there's the potential that you'll be a victim multiple times.  It's because your information is out there and will get passed around.

Because of that, the Better Business Bureau of Northeast Florida says everyone needs to check their credit reports.  Everyone is entitled to  free checks every year with each of the three credit reporting agencies.  The BBB recommends the website AnnualCreditReport.com.  It has step-by-step instructions and links to all three credit bureaus.

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