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Howard Ain, Troubleshooter: Dishonest Painters

CINCINNATI (Howard Ain) -- Protecting your wallet is only one way to avoid identity theft.

This is the story of how one woman was targeted by identity thieves and the things you need to do in order to protect yourself. 

Jill Carlson, fraud victim, said, "I got home one day and I've got a package on my front porch from Ebay which I did not order."
Jill thought it was just a mix-up, but the next day, when she found a notice telling her to pick up another package she got suspicious and spoke to the post office clerk.
Carlson said, "Is there a way to stop packages from coming to my house, there is something going on."
Turns out, thieves stole her identity, opened an Ebay account in her name and began ordering online with the intent of picking up the packages before she retrieved them.  Just by chance they missed two.
Jill discovered the woman who stole her identity, Stacy Wallin, was part of a house painting crew she hired years earlier.  Wallin and her crew knew Carlson's schedule which was why they were able to grab packages from her home without anyone noticing.
"It became more personal at that point, the anger level was intense," Carlson said.

Though Jill didn't lose any money the damage done to her credit was devastating.

"I did have major problems with my credit report because all of a sudden you are late with a payment.  They stole credit card statements out of my mailbox, they stole credit reports out of my mailbox.  It took me probably a year to start rebuilding my credit," she said.
The process is not easy.
Carlson tells us, "It's amazing how hard it is for you to prove you are the actual person.  It's easier for them to change your records then it is for you to go back and prove that you are who you are."
E. Woodson, a US Postal Inspector, said, "Prosecutors, both federal, state and local and the judicial officers have realized that ID theft is not a victimless crime and it impacts the very fabric of the American economy."
Postal Inspectors say ID theft is growing at an alarming rate and can happen to anyone.

"Many of these victims cannot afford this and one act of ID theft can impact their lives, they can't pay for a child's education, they can't get credit," Woodson said.

To protect yourself order an annual credit report and check to see if all the accounts and addresses are yours and that no one else's name is on your account.
As for Stacy Walin, she was sentenced to more than 3 years in prison and has been ordered to pay more than 35,000 dollars restitution.

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