When convicted identity thief Warren Armstead is sentenced next month, federal prosecutors will ask that he be put behind bars for almost 20 years. The case is a symbol of the burgeoning problem of ID theft in Washington and across the country — and increasing efforts by authorities to crack down, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Armstead is accused of using meth-addicted minions to steal personal information and feed it to his operation. But bank tellers, hospital billing clerks, state licensing agents and others with access to personnel, medical and financial data also have been tied to ID theft. At a news conference Wednesday, Washington officials suggested several ways for business owners to prevent identity theft: limit access to personnel and payroll data; truncate Social Security numbers so all nine digits do not appear on documents, and require criminal background checks on employees with access to ID information.