A pair of ID thieves from Bergenfield stole thousands of dollars from the bank accounts of more than 50 victims, authorities said Tuesday.
Borough police worked with members of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Secret Service and police in Brick and Absecon to crack the case.
It began last August, when one of the victims told borough police that someone had opened several accounts in her name and accumulated outstanding balances on them, Detective Lt. William Duran said.
Investigators eventually identified William Newhart IV, 42, and Jennifer Bland, 34, as their primary suspects, Duran said.
Both were arrested late last week on charges of identity theft, forgery, trafficking in personal identifying information, credit card theft and possession of false government documents, among other counts, the lieutenant said.
Newhart was served with criminal complaints at the Atlantic County Jail, where he’s been held on unrelated charges, he said.
Bland was sent to the Bergen County Jail only to have a judge order her released less than 24 hours later.
A third resident, identified as Michael Santangelo, 40, was arrested during the investigation and issued a summons charging him with possession of fraudulent government documents, Duran said.
The investigation was continuing.
Duran, meanwhile, reminded citizens to be vigilant in protecting their identity. Some tips:
- Secure your Social Security number (SSN). Don't carry your Social Security card in your wallet. Only give out your SSN when necessary;
- Don't share personal information (birthdate, Social Security number, or bank account number) just because someone asks for it;
- Collect mail every day. Place a hold on your mail when you are away from home for several days;
- Pay attention to your billing cycles. If bills or financial statements are late, contact the sender;
- Use the security features on your cellphone;
- Install firewalls and virus-detection software on your home computer;
- Create complex passwords that identity thieves cannot guess. Change your passwords if a company that you do business with has a breach of its databases;
- Review your credit card and bank account statements. Compare receipts with account statements. Watch for unauthorized transactions;
- Shred receipts, credit offers, account statements, and expired credit cards. This can prevent “dumpster divers” from getting your personal information;
- Store personal information in a safe place;
- Review your credit reports once a year. Be certain that they don't include accounts that you haven’t opened;
- Freeze your credit files. Credit freezes prevent someone from applying for and getting approval for a credit account or utility services in your name.
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