You watch your credit cards, check your bank accounts, and still, it can happen to you. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States. Here's another spin: the Sullivan Group, a company that provides management and personnel services for other businesses, says someone's calling their customers, asking for personal information, like Social Security numbers.
This had the potential to be a real disaster. The Sullivan Group does business with about 200 companies that represent a total of 3,500 workers. Fortunately, the company learned what was going on early on and they think they were able to nip it in the bud.
The Sullivan Group has always taken steps--like shredding important documents--to protect its clients' privacy and interests. So they were more than surprised to learn that someone tried to violate that--twice. "It was very bizarre," said the company's John Powers. "In one of the instances, someone actually walked up to the employee in her place of work and said they were with our company and were trying to confirm some information."
They called another employee on the phone. Fortunately, neither worker complied and the Sullivan Group was able to warn its other clients before anyone else was contacted.
"We want to get the word out that this is going on to preclude other people from being victimized and maybe let the perpetrators know that we're on to their game and they need to back off," said Powers.
What happened to the Sullivan Group is not uncommon. The Federal Trade Commission says in the last five years, more than 27 million people had their identities stolen, with losses totaling more than $50 billion. But police say there are steps you can take to protect yourself.
Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police spokesman Bucky Burnsed told us, "The most important thing is never, ever, for any reason, give out personal information about yourself over the phone. If someone calls you and asks that kind of information, they don't need it. You might also want to call police."
Because you never know where identity theft may strike.