TN Creates New Identity Theft Unit

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(Memphis) Keep an eye on your wallet because identity theft is on the rise in Tennessee.

The state’s Department of Safety is creating a new unit that will deal with cracking down on that crime.

Before, thieves would physically steal your identity by taking your wallet or purse, but now with so much information online, you are always at risk.

“Online methods of stealing your identity and these phone messages, and text messages have increased and thats contributing to the increased numbers,” said Randy Hutchinson with the Better Business Bureau. 

The BBB said last year almost 12 million Americans were victims of identity theft, and most of them didn’t know it until it was too late.

That`s why the Department of Safety and Homeland Security is creating the Identity Crimes Unit.

The state unit will work with the U.S. Secret Service and FBI based in Memphis. 

They will provide help to local agencies who simply don’t have the resources. 

The state says local agencies are having a hard time investigating, because different agencies have different jurisdictions and scams can spread across the state, country, and world. 

“A lot of these fishing emails and a lot of these other schemes we see are perpetrated from crime rings overseas.  And there’s just not a lot a local agency can do on their own to combat those people,” said Hutchinson.

A big component of the new unit will also be a resource kit local agencies will use to educate the public about identity theft.

The BBB says you can protect yourself from identity theft by monitoring your bank statements closely, and by not giving out any personal or financial information unsolicited on the internet.