KENDALL, FL - MARCH 07: Ileana Garcia looks in her wallet for credit cards she wants to melt over a hot plate as she tries to dig herself out of credit card debt during a sermon by Kevin Cross about faith-based financial management at the …
Photographer: Joe Raedle
TAMPA - Gesu Anthony admits he didn't handle his first experience with credit cards very well, at age 18.
"I was a little careless," the 22-year-old University of South Florida senior said.
Back then, Anthony believes, his frequent visits to major retail websites with his newly-acquired plastic eventually allowed hackers to access his personal financial information. And away they went.
After the thieves put at least $100,000 in purchases on his credit cards, Anthony said he was able to get some of those unauthorized charges removed. But he says it took until 2010 -- three years -- to pay off the rest of the debts that creditors refused to budge on.
"I've become older and wiser," Anthony said. "I don't even have credit cards. I'm terrified. I refuse to get them."
Using only cash to buy goods and services is probably the only sure way to avoid becoming an ID theft victim, according to Kevin Bodie at the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
But Bodie, a sheriff's detective corporal who has investigated financial crimes for two decades, said consumers don't have to go to that extreme. A few simple precautions should reduce the chances that your ID might be stolen:
ABC Action News is taking action for you by teaming with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Clearwater Police Department, PROSHRED Security, Westfield Shopping Centers and WQYK to host our second annual “Operation Shredding” event on Saturday. For more information, go to abcactionnews.com/shred .
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Four boaters were rescued from water off Egmont Key as their boat burned Sunday afternoon, according to the US Coast Guard.