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How criminals are using your personal information to rip you off

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Posted at 7:06 PM, Aug 08, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-08 19:06:53-04

As technology advances criminals are finding new ways to steal your money.

“The bad guys are calling in with all the personal identifying information of the victims,” says U.S. Postal Inspector Carla Menedez.

And once they do that, they essentially can get access to your credit card account. They can add themselves as users and get their own card with their name on it and start charging on your account.

“The bad guys are going in and buying electronics and going to pawn shops to get cash,” says Menedez.

Postal inspectors seized many large ticket items purchased in one scam including big screen TVs and video game systems.

In one case, losses totaled $120,000, but inspectors got a big break.

“The bad guy wasn`t very smart in this case. He purchased two MoneyGram money orders from a local merchant and when he went in to purchase the money order, he actually wrote his real name and his real address down on the money order,” says Menedez.

That led them to the suspect`s home.

“Through our investigations, we were able to find the victim`s credit card in the suspect`s trash,” says Menedez.

And this is one of many cases.  Account takeover fraud was up dramatically in 2012 totaling $4.9 billion dollars, a 69% increase over 2011.

Some advice from postal inspectors: safeguard your personal information at all times.

“One thing we always recommend is to check your credit report once a year to make sure nothing fraudulent has happened to your credit,” says Menedez.

Also, never carry your social security with you, leave it at home in a safe place.