The Phoenix metropolitan area has the highest rate of identity theft complaints in the nation, says the Federal Trade Commission. A meth user, 23, showed Scottsdale, Az., showed officers a new way to steal identities, says the New York Times: Browsing a government Web site, he pulled up a divorce document listing the parties’ names, addresses and bank account numbers, along with scans of their signatures. With a common software program, the document provided all he needed to print checks in his victims’ names – and it was all made available by the county recorder’s office. “We’re trying to keep up with the technology,” said Lt. Craig Chrzanowski, who runs Scottsdale’s property crimes division.
In Arizona, one in six adults had their identities stolen in the last five years, about twice the national rate, one survey reported. Arizona officials advise residents to shred documents and avoid giving Social Security numbers or bank account numbers to strangers over the telephone or the Internet. The real problem, officials and consumer advocates say, is that banks campaig to extend more credit to more people with fewer hassles, and retailers and consumers embrace instant, near-anonymous access to credit.