Unprecedented spike in ID theft in Charlotte

There is an unprecedented spike in identity thefts striking the Charlotte area.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- There is an unprecedented spike in identity thefts striking the Charlotte area.

It's everything from fake bank accounts to credit card fraud.

In fact, more than 80-percent of scams last month involved stolen identity, according to the Better Business Bureau.

NBC Charlotte has been digging into police records to uncover the disturbing trend.

At the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, there were at least a dozen reports of identity theft in the past 24 hours. On Wednesday, NBC Charlotte spoke to a woman who filed one of those reports.

On February 14, Jennifer learned about the kind of secret admirer nobody wants. 

“[It] happened on Valentine’s Day-- when I found out about it,” says Jennifer.

Jennifer says it started with a call from PNC Bank about a credit card application.

“I had to inform them I had not applied for a credit card with them,” says Jennifer.

When she went online, she saw the same thing happened with American Express. Then, about two weeks later, yet again with Discover card. That’s when she filed a police report.

“The person who did them had all my information, my social security number, my birthdate, address,” says Jennifer. “It’s very frustrating.”

Now, NBC Charlotte is seeing more reports for identity theft. In fact, the Better Business Bureau calls last month a spike like they’ve never seen.

“This is unheard of, 83-percent of all scams reported dealt with that, we just don't see that,” says Tom Bartholomy, president of the Better Business Bureau in Charlotte.

NBC Charlotte asked the BBB what you can do to protect yourself. Bartholomy says watch out for emails or texts with links from an unfamiliar source. He says hover over the link to see what the web address is before clicking on it.

Also, he says when purchasing items online, make sure the web address is encrypted; the browser should have a padlock and "https".

“If those aren't there that's like somebody announcing your credit card information at a Panthers game to 75,000 people-- that's how many hackers are on the internet,” says Bartholomy.

“What I'm trying to figure out is who got all this information and from where,” says Jennifer.

However, Jennifer says she's thankful PNC Bank contacted her so she could freeze her accounts.

“You just have to keep checking and be alert,” says Jennifer.

For now, she's hoping for no more bad surprises on Valentine's Day or the rest of the year.

Bartholomy also recommends checking your financial information online every day to make sure nothing unusual is going on.

Copyright 2017 WCNC


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