Identity Theft

Kid Allegedly Funds College Tour With Stolen Credit Cards

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Most American high schoolers are eager to get to college, but using a stolen credit card to fund campus visits really isn’t the way to do it.

Shawn Pettingell, a 17-year-old from Colonie, N.Y., faces felony charges after he allegedly stole checks and credit card information to buy first-class plane tickets for himself and a friend so he could visit Johnson & Wales University in Miami, the Albany Times Union reports.

Pettingell was arrested and charged with identity theft, possession of a forged instrument, grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property and criminal possession of a stolen credit card. The alleged victims — all in their 80s — include two of the teenager’s relatives and a neighbor.

If someone steals your credit card, you never know what he or she might do with it. Credit card users generally aren’t held liable for fraudulent purchases, but it’s still important to pay close attention to your account activity to make sure any unauthorized activity is quickly stopped, before it damages your credit.

High levels of credit card debt will hurt your credit score — it’s one of the five main factors that determine your scores — so if you see a sudden drop in your your credit rating, it could be a sign someone that someone has stolen your identity. In addition to frequently reviewing your bank and credit transaction activity, it’s a good idea to check your credit data for such signs of fraud. You can check your credit reports for free once a year through, and you can check your credit scores for free through

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Update 11:09 a.m. EDT 6/27/14: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to the Albany Times Union as the Rochester Times Union.

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  • Certified Hamster Midwife

    It’s the Albany Times Union.

    • Christine DiGangi

      Thanks for pointing that out. It has been correctd.

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