Identity Theft Crisis Comes to Amherst Street

Among the large houses and lush trees of Amherst Street, identity theft victims abound.

University Park police are investigating more than a half dozen recent identity theft cases where the victims have similar addresses.

On May 9, residents from five houses in the 3100 block reported discovering unauthorized credit cards opened in their names. On May 11 and 12, two more reports came in with the residents living at a home in the 3000 block and another in the 2800 block.

“We are working on the assumption that the cases that you have mentioned on Amherst are related,” said Lt. John L. Ball of the Criminal Investigations Division.

“We are currently collaborating with a number of other law enforcement agencies, and following up on a number of possible leads,” he said.

Other cases reported the same week by residents living nearby also had descriptions that sound potentially connected:

  • A resident in the 3900 block complained to police May 9 that someone had used her identifying information to obtain products and money.
  • A resident in the 3000 block of Hanover Street reported May 9 the fraudulent opening of a line of credit.
  • A resident in the 3300 block of Lovers Lane complained May 12 that someone had unlawfully opened two lines of credit.

“’Potentially’ is the key word,” Ball said. “At this point in the investigation we are unable to confirm.”

As for the cluster of cases from the 2800 through 3100 blocks of Amherst, linking them beyond type of crime and geography is challenging.

“It’s kind of hard to figure out what the common denominator was,” crime prevention officer Lita Snellgrove said. “It’s interesting trying to figure it out.”

According to uptexas.org, thieves uses a variety of methods to obtain the personal information required to commit acts of fraud.

They may steal wallets, purses, or mail containing checks or pre-approved credit cards. They could rummage through garbage of look over the shoulder of someone entering information at an ATM. They may call pretending to be from the government or credit card company.

“The possible ways to obtain your information continue to grow with advances in technology and with the inventiveness of the thief,” the website says.

Want to prevent identity theft? Closely guard Social Security numbers, banking and other financial information, credit card numbers, dates of birth, passwords, PINs, and driver’s license numbers.

  • ID Theft Prevention Tips
    Use a shredder to destroy old statements, pre-approved credit cards, and billing information.
  • Do not put checks in the mail from your home address, drop them in a U.S. Post Office mailbox.
  • Don’t leave mail sitting in the mailbox overnight.
  • Check bank statements and credit card bills closely.
  • Use anti-spyware and anti-virus software on your computers.
  • Immediately report lost or stolen credit and debit cards.

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