Awareness grows from being a victim of identity theft

Ashlee Shapiro

Recently, I went to my local Blockbuster video store to rent a movie for the evening and as I was checking out, I handed the clerk a DVD, my Blockbuster and credit/ATM card. The clerk returned my Blockbuster card and handed me the DVD. It was a typical Blockbuster experience.

I got home in about 10 minutes and decided to look up my account statements on-line and noticed suspicious charges were made to my credit card after I left Blockbuster. I went to my purse pulled out my wallet and saw my Blockbuster card, but not my credit card. Right then I knew the clerk consciously handed me back my movie card hoping I would not realize that I was leaving without my credit card.

It took the clerk 10 minutes after I left to go to three different retail stores within a one-mile-radius of Blockbuster and use my credit card to do some shopping.

I never thought I would become a victim of identity theft, but now I am.

I called my credit card company, canceled my account and filed a stolen claims report with my bank. It took my bank one month to refund the money back into my account the clerk purchased on to my credit card.

I went to all of the stores where the clerk used my credit card and asked the retailers if they could give a description of the person who used my card. Two out of the three stores were able to identity the clerk confirming that the clerk stole my credit card and identity.

After enduring frustration, anxiety and the feeling of being violated, I started to ask questions. How do people become victims of identity theft? What is identity theft?

When I asked a store clerk if it was standard procedure to check a person’s ID when he or she use an ATM card, she said it was not required. California law, however, requires store clerks to check a person’s ID when he or she purchases with an ATM.

According to police authorities, credit card theft is not reported as often as identity theft.

For instance, every one of our 19 Los Angeles Police Department divisions receives five or more identity theft reports, according to police. That is about 185 reports a day.

Identity theft is different from credit card theft because the actual card is not stolen. An individual’s information including a card number, the cardholder’s name and the expiration date is stolen. A thief then uses the stolen information to purchase items illegally.

When using a credit/ATM card to purchase an item at a store, make sure the clerk hands the card back to you or you might be the next victim of credit card and identity theft like I was.