ORLANDO, Fla. — Swamped with cases and too many to solve.
According to detectives with Orlando Police, they receive identity theft and scam reports every day. Since 2017, the department has gotten over 3,000 reports.
- Over 200 identity theft reports since the start of the year
- In some cases, thousands of dollars were stolen
- Orlando police: File a report if your identity is stolen
- JUMP TO: 7 Ways to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft ▼
Johnny Jackson had his personal banking account compromised after trying to buy a medical product.
“In the following three or four days, I noticed that my checking account was hit twice by two transactions I didn’t know anything about,” Jackson said.
For Jackson it was $200, for many others it’s much worse.
Our Spectrum News Watchdog Team uncovered identity theft reports where thousands of dollars were stolen.
In one recent case, a victim's personal information was used to open an account at a jewelry store, where $6,800 worth of unauthorized charges were made in Coral Springs.
Detectives with Orlando Police say if you find yourself in a similar situation, you should report the incident to authorities.
“Get that report filed so that we can record it, so that we can document it,” said Orlando Police Det. Michael Stevens.
Stevens says Orlando has a large problem with identity theft. The problem is at its height during tax season because of the large sums of cash people get back.
So far this year they’ve had over 200 cases.
“It’s a constant problem, we are swamped, we have detectives working identity theft cases every day, every week, every month, every year,” Stevens said.
We asked OPD if there were plans to add more personnel to solve these cases. A spokesperson replied:
“We are always analyzing our resources against the current workload. The decision to add more personnel/shift personnel is an extensive process where lots of factors are taken into consideration.”
For now, Johnny Jackson is taking precautions.
“You need to read the fine print, get all the contact information you can, phone numbers, whoever you can contact,” Jackson is said.
Police advise the public to be careful and to protect social security numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers and account passwords.
Detectives also encourage people to report any potential scams or cases of identity theft to local authorities.
7 Ways to Protect Yourself From Identity Theft
The Federal Trade Commission's identity theft section has tips for keeping your personal information safe, tips based on specific issues, and information on how to report any issues.
Here are 7 tips.
1. Don't carry your social security card
Your social security number can unlock all kinds of personal information, especially financial accounts. Don't carry it with you unless you have to.
2. Limit the information you put online
Think about the security questions you get asked when you talk to a credit card company or bank: mother's maiden name, date of birth, place of birth, street you grew up on, that sort of thing. You should avoid having that information listed publically on social media accounts, blogs, or other places where you would post personal information.
Even if you don't use that information with your accounts right now, it could be used to help set up an account in your name.
3. Strengthen your passwords
For the same reason you want to limit your personal info online, you want to avoid using anything in your password that would be easy to find: a grandchild's name or birthday, or a pet's name, for instance. Also, use a combination of letters, upper and lower case, numbers, and special characters in creating your passwords.
4. Do you know where your wallet is?
Make sure that, when you have a wallet or purse, it is with you and secure at all times when you go out in public. Don't leave it in a shopping cart and turn your head to look at something, or stick a credit card in a coat pocket.
Also, be sure to keep your car locked and your bag or wallet in a concealed area if you decide to leave your car without them.
5. Keep track of your mail
There are U.S. Postal Service-approved lockable mailboxes you can get to prevent people from stealing your mail. You should also have the post office hold your mail if you go on vacation. Either way, it's best to keep on top of it.
6. Shred your statements
If you still get paper statements for your financial accounts, it's a good idea to invest in a paper shredder. It makes it much harder for thieves to steal them from the trash. You should also shred or rip up any of those unsolicited, preapproved credit or loan offers you may get in the mail.
7. Monitor your credit report
This is getting easier. Many credit cards now have a way to monitor your credit report online as well, and for free. You should keep track of all three credit bureaus -- Experian, Equifax, and Transunion -- because different accounts can show up on reports from different bureaus.
If you are worried about your accounts, consider freezing or locking your credit report. All of the bureaus have ways to do that, and it doesn't cost anything. It limits who can look at your credit report, or try to open new credit accounts in your name.