Odessa Police Department Seeing Rise in Identity Theft Related Cases

Odessa Police Department Seeing Rise in Identity Theft Related Cases

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - It's one of the fasting growing crimes in the nation and it's also increasing right here in the Basin. Odessa Police said identity theft is on the rise so they're urging citizens to keep an eye out on their credit.

The message comes after a spike in identity theft-related cases over the last year.

In 2013, OPD investigated 221 cases of forgery and 217 cases of fraud.

Just two months into 2014 and those numbers are on track to be the same or possibly even higher.

"It's very similar percentage wise," Cpl. Steve LeSueur, said. "So far during 2014, a total of 19 fraud reports have been made and 22 forgery reports have been made."

Many of the cases are a result of a home or auto burglary and police said thieves are being more particular.

"We definitely are seeing an increase in stolen ID's rather than jewelry and electronics," LeSueur said. "A lot of these originated as a result of a stolen check."

The rise in cases is hurting more than just victim. We're told local businesses are feeling the affects too.

"A lot of the check cashing places, we've responded to a lot of forgery calls," LeSueur said. "In a lot of cases, the clerk will realize after the actor has already left that they were scammed."

Tyler Patton with the Better Business Bureau said today's technology offers convenience but with that comes a risk.

"Social media pages are another thing that identity thieves use to try to get information from us," Patton said. "Limit frankly what you put out there. You know, there's not necessarily a reason to have your phone number on there."

There are simple things you can do to lower your risk of identity theft.

Officials suggest carrying as little personal information around as possible.

"Any documents you wanna keep like birth certificates, social security cards, passports, you wanna keep those in a secure area such as a safe," LeSueur said. "If you can make it without checks then don't have them. It'll save you a lot of grief in the long run."

The BBB also recommends getting a credit report annually.