David Kachel said Monday that he’s on the verge of losing everything he has.
Kachel, of Schenevus, is a victim of identity theft and owes credit card companies more than $15,000 for purchases he says he didn’t make. What’s worse, he said, is that his disabled 9-year-old daughter, Sara, is no longer receiving important disability benefits and cannot attend expensive doctor’s appointments.
Kachel, 41, is not alone. According to the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Network, New York ranks fifth among states with the highest percentage of identity theft. The state had 21,538 complaints of identity theft in 2012, according to the organization, which collects information about consumer fraud and identity theft from the FTC, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Secret Service, Attorney Generals Offices and state and local law enforcement agencies.
Specific statistics for each year are difficult to nail down because not all cases are reported, according to the Consumer Sentinel Network.
Lt. Douglas Brenner said the Oneonta Police Department gets reports of identity theft about four or five times a year. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen more frequently, he said.
“With identity theft, you don’t just suddenly realize that your identity has been stolen,” Brenner said. “It’s more gradual and it takes time before you notice. People see that their credit card has been used, look into it and see that items have been bought fraudulently. It’s devastating to have your identity stolen. It can affect your credit, your ability to pay bills ... many things.”
According to Identity Hawk, a leading identity fraud detection and prevention service, more than 11 million — or one in ten — U.S. consumers have experienced identity theft. On average, it took victims 132 days to notice fraudulent activity on their accounts. After being reported to police, the case is assigned to a detective, Brenner said. Some cases can be solved, but some cannot. For instance, it’s more difficult to track down a culprit who is located in a different state or country.