By David Irvin: CNJ Staff Writer
Bob Hagan of the New Mexico Securities Division said many victims of identity theft don’t even know they have fallen victim to a crime.
“It’s important for people to realize they are a victim of a crime and file a report,” he said.
“We believe that here in New Mexico and around the country, identity theft is significantly underreported.”
In 2003, there were more than 1,300 cases reported in New Mexico, or about 70 cases for every 100,000 people, according to documents on the Federal Trade Commission Web site.
Identity theft is using information that belongs to another person fraudulently, in most cases for monetary gain.
New Mexico ranks number 13 on the list of 50 states for the number of victims per 100,000 population.
Often the local police department is reluctant to accept identity theft as a crime, Hagan said, instead treating it as a civil matter.
That is not the case in Clovis, however, and Hagan cited steps taken by the Clovis Police toward working to a solution.
Sgt. James Schoeffel of the Clovis Police said the department gets several calls per week on identity theft.
“We send a uniformed officer and go and gather whatever information there is,” he said.
Schoeffel said there is sometimes mail correspondence or Internet evidence that can be collected to trace identity thieves.
Clovis residents will have the opportunity to learn about the dangers and methods of identity theft at a free seminar 6:30 p.m. Tuesday called The Savvy Investor.
The 30-minute seminar, presented by the New Mexico Securities Division and sponsored by the Clovis Chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons, will teach attendees what identity theft is, steps that can be taken to avoid becoming a victim, how businesses can defend themselves and their customers and what to do in the case one becomes a victim.
It will be held at the north annex of the Clovis Public Library.
The featured speaker will be Frank Mulholland, a former special agent with the New Mexico Insurance Fraud Bureau.