Identity theft on the rise at RCC

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By Greg McKinley

By Greg McKinley

Riverside Community College is an identity thief’s dream.

Personal information is easily available to anybody who really wants it. By merely eavesdropping in the writing center or math lab someone could gain countless student identification numbers. Social Security numbers are also used on almost all of RCC’s registration documents.Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information such as your name, Social Security number, credit card number or other identifying information, without your permission. Usually this involves making purchases on your credit cards or taking out loans under your name.

Identity theft can also affect RCC students in less malicious but still harmful ways, such as that suffered by RCC student Nicole Ledbetter. Someone who knew her student identification number repeatedly dropped her from her classes. Cases like hers are not uncommon to RCC, according to Chief of Campus Police Lee Wagner.

“Since September we’ve probable had three cases reported to the District or department, and another two reported to other agencies,” Wagner said.

RCC student Joseph Martinez said, “I’ve seen on TV that Riverside has one of the highest identity theft rates.”

The number of cases of identity theft is likely to increase over the coming years as technology puts more personal information on the internet and presents greater access to this information.

According to Wagner “technology in general gives us access to privileged information.”

Kristi Parker, an RCC student said, “I think people are lazy so they do it. They need to find a job.”

The RCC police currently have no programs aimed at combating identity theft, but Wagner said they may soon be necessary if identity theft continues to grow.

“Those are things we’ll have to implement in the future, because it is becoming more of a problem,” he said.

But Wagner also seemed optimistic.

“There are new laws that govern identity theft using electronic means,” he said.

These laws are aimed at detecting identity theft. Such as a new California law allowing a person to receive one free credit report a year from each of the three national credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. This information can be used to detect identity theft.

Despite the new laws to help detect and prosecute identity theft Wagner said “It is a more difficult crime to investigate than typical crimes.”

Wagner also said that “what seems to be popular is going on the internet and ordering up lots of merchandise using the information of the victim. The thieves have the merchandise purchased sent to a P.O. Box.”

To solve a case of identity theft Wagner says they “have to go back through the purchases.”

Wagner suggested that if your identity is stolen to “contact the bank or any organization used in the fraud and cancel your cards, then report the incident to the police.”

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