ROCKINGHAM — Someone stole an 81-year-old nursing home resident’s identity and charged nearly $500 to her credit card, Richmond County sheriff’s deputies said.
A credit card belonging to the victim, a Rockingham resident who is currently at ManorCare Health Services in Pinehurst, has been used at several places, according to deputies.
Deputies say the unknown offender has racked up a balance $499.42 on the card in fraudulent expenses so far.
Investigators said they are checking with the credit card company to find out where the card was used.
State Attorney General Roy Cooper’s office reports that more than 300,000 North Carolinians are victims of identity theft each year.
The Tar Heel State ranks 23rd in the nation in the number of cases reported. Fayetteville and the greater Charlotte area are listed in the top 100 metropolitan areas for identity theft cases.
The attorney general’s office says that identity theft costs businesses and individuals tens of billions of dollars per year.
Victims often have to spend an average of $500 and multiple hours trying to restore their credit. They also have to deal with being denied credit, being hassled by creditors and even being arrested for crimes they didn’t commit, according to Cooper’s office.
The N.C. Department of Justice offers several tips on its website on how to prevent becoming a victim of credit card fraud.
Those tips include: signing your credit card as soon as you receive it, not giving your card number to people you don’t know over the phone, not sending your card number in an email, shredding pre-approved credit card applications before you discard them and reporting lost or stolen cards immediately.
Reach reporter William R. Toler at 910-997-3111, ext. 16.