Credit Card Theft

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Newly released reports show Alabama is seeing an overall decrease in identity theft arrests.

That is leading officials to believe the public is taking measures to protect themselves.

For the past five years identity theft has been on the rise and now, official statistics are showing a decrease. Of course there's always a catch to stats like this. However, local officials say while ID theft is down, debit and credit card fraud is now on the rise.

Identity theft is on the decline. The Alabama Department of Public Safety is reporting just 3,370 cases of identify theft arrests last year. While that number may seem high, that’s a decrease of 231 arrests. The department is continuing to work to make sure this decrease continues for years to come.

Fraud Investigator Trooper Curtis Coachman said, "I work these cases at least once or twice a month where they try to get a license in someone’s name."

Because of growing concern with identity fraud, the Department of Public Safety has implemented a new program to help catch criminals before they qualify for an Alabama license.

Lt. Jack Waller, with the Department of Public Safety said, "If we have a suspect we have the ability to pull up a picture of the suspect."

While these new measures are helping to deter criminals, now a new concern is surfacing.

Investigator Bill Rafferty with the Houston County Sheriff's Department said, "Identity theft is decreasing; only about six reports filed this year. But one thing is fraudulent use of debit or credit cards are picking up."

Right now the Houston Co. Sheriff's Dept. and Dothan Police Departments are working together to solve 30 cases where credit cards have been fraudulently used.

Officials say the best way to protect yourself is not to leave any personal information like a license out in the open and to shred all important documents containing your social security or bank account numbers.

While statewide the numbers of identity theft arrests are down, Dothan is ranked 103rd in the nation for identity theft complaints.

If you believe you have been the victim of identity theft, contact the Houston County Sheriff's Department at 677-4882 or your local law enforcement agency.