SOUTHLAKE (CBS 11) — A string of identity thefts has targeted a specific community. Now the victims have teamed up to fight back, and they want everyone to know: You may also be vulnerable.
For the last week women who live in Southlake’s Timarron subdivision have been in constant contact with banks and credit card companies trying to fight off nonstop attacks on their finances. Once they realized they weren’t alone, they set out to discover how widespread the problem is.
For days Jessica Heintz has carried around with her stacks of documents tracking her efforts to thwart identity thieves.
“Somebody out there has a fake ID. They have my social security number. They’re able to open up multiple accounts, charge on accounts that are already existing, and I don’t know how to stop it. It’s happening so quickly,” Heintz said.
It began with a call from a credit card company informing her that someone had opened as many as six different accounts at Houston stores that day. She quickly called the most recent store, and a manager told her a woman had just used a photo ID with Heintz’s name to open the account.
“At that point I start being concerned that there’s an impersonator out there, a real person who they described as a Caucasian woman with short red hair,” Heintz said.
Like Heintz, Joanna Grayson was fighting off new credit cards opened in her name. The two quickly realized several women in Southlake’s Timarron subdivision had been hit.
“Over the course of the last few days, we’ve been talking more to neighbors and sending out community-wide emails to see if there are any other people experiencing this, and now we’re up to eight,” Grayson said.
“Southlake has a reputation of having… It’s a very affluent area,” Heintz added. “It’s a gold mine for people to come in and want to take our identity and our information from us because we have assets. We have things that people want.”
Southlake police say they are investigating the cases. For now it isn’t clear how the identities were compromised because the victims say they are all are extremely careful with personal information.
Now they worry about long-term impact.
“It’s going to take quite a long time for my credit score, which has plummeted in the last week, to be rectified,” Grayson said.
“In my mind the bigger picture is my information is out there,” Heintz said. “It’s public. It’s been sold probably a thousand times already, so it’s not just this one instance. It could be a year down the road. It could be five years down the road.”
The victims are also working with the U.S. Postal Inspector and the Federal Trade Commission. Southlake Police say they are still in the early stages of their investigation.
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