Updated: 03/21/2013 10:12 AM
Created: 03/20/2013 6:02 PM WHEC.com
By: Berkeley Brean
A warning about what information you should be carefully about giving out if you or a friend is renting an apartment.
Federal investigators say your personal information is easily stolen when you sign all the paperwork. Whenever and where ever you give out your personal information, you are vulnerable to identity theft. It can even happen you're searching for an apartment.
The victims in this case were all renting. Each of them had filled out an rental application with personal information.
Blanca Alvarez, U.S. Postal inspector, said, "Somebody who worked for the apartment management complex was able to obtain copies of their drivers licenses and their applications and they were given to the defendant.”
That person used the birth dates and social security numbers to go online and get fraudulent student loans. The loan totals started at $25,000. Postal inspectors got involved because the checks were being sent to vacant addresses.
Alvarez said, “The checks would be picked up the defendant who was stealing the mail."
Suspects hired people who got fake identifications and went into banks to cash the student loan checks.
Alvarez said, “The victims in this case had a difficult time fixing their credit. It's a lengthy process."
Marc Anton, Assistant U.S. Attorney, said, "If their identities are stolen, most parents wouldn't catch that crime for 10, perhaps 15 years down the road, so an ID thief really gets a good head start year after year after year.”
The total potential loss in this case was over a half million dollars. So what can you do?
Check your credit report at least once a year to make sure no one has stolen your identity. Keep track of all loans or credit cards in your name and shred any documents with your personal information on them.