Identity Theft

The Taco Bell Identity Theft Caper

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A Michigan resident got a little something extra by going through the local Taco Bell drive-thru.

No, it wasn’t a bonus chalupa. It was identity theft.

An employee at a Fruitport Township, Mich., Taco Bell is suspected of stealing at least one customer’s credit card number, according to a local news report. The police have encouraged anyone who recently used their credit cards at the location to look at their account statements for suspicious activity.

The person whose information was allegedly stolen realized something was wrong when unauthorized charges (many of which were made at Taco Bell) popped up on a credit card bill. It turns out, the employee who took the card at the drive-thru had  allegedly written down the number and came up with a clever way of using the information.

According to the report, the employee went to stores and attempted to pay with a non-working credit card. When that card failed, the Taco Bell employee pretended to call a credit card company and gave the cashier the stolen card number, saying the transaction had been approved by the credit card company.

The story is a perfect example of why you should frequently check your credit card statements. Regularly reviews of online account statements are why the alleged thief was arrested shortly after stealing the information.

Identity theft isn’t always high-tech or on a large scale, like with the Target data breach that has dominated the news recently. Much of the responsibility to protect personal information rests on the consumer’s shoulders.

Checking your account statements, credit reports and credit scores regularly are great ways to spot identity theft. It sounds like a chore, but looking at your bank activity on a daily basis will help you stop fraud before it becomes disastrous to your finances, and looking at your credit profile could alert you to any new accounts an identity thief has used your information to open.

All consumers are entitled to free copies of their annual credit reports, and you can look at your credit scores on a monthly basis using a free tool like Credit.com’s Credit Report Card. Comparing the same score over time not only helps you identify areas for improvement, but a sudden drop in scores could indicate unauthorized use of your identity.

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