by Robert Siciliano

Montana Town Sees Significant Rise in Identity Theft

Jan 13, 2011

Montana is “Big Sky Country.” With guns, beer, fishing rods, and meat are sold at gas stations, some argue that it should be called the “Don’t Mess With Me” state. Butte, MT had Evel Knievel, and he was one tough cookie.

And Butte, like many cities and towns across the country, is facing an identity theft epidemic. The Butte police recently received a staggering 135 identity theft reports in one week!

The Montana Standard reports, “Sheriff John Walsh said the Secret Service suspects the identity thefts may have occurred earlier this year and that the charges are just starting to be made. The unauthorized purchases are common this time of year because it’s the holiday season and clerks are often too busy to check for proper identification, authorities said.”

Walsh has been a victim of credit card fraud himself, with his debit card being used to run up about $900 in fraudulent charges at grocery stores, restaurants, and other businesses.

This type of fraud generally occurs when a bank or retailer’s server is breached. Customer accounts stored on the server are then taken over and used for unauthorized transactions. Your information could be compromised today, but the identity thief might wait months before using it to make the first fraudulent charge.

It’s very important to pay attention to your statements and refute any unauthorized charges immediately. Legally, you are only protected for up to 60 days after an unauthorized charge on your credit card, and an even shorter length of time for unauthorized debit card transactions. Reconcile your online statements weekly, and shred paper statements before discarding.

McAfee Identity Protection includes proactive identity surveillance, which monitors for subscribers’ credit and personal information in online black market forums. Subscribers have access to live fraud resolution agents who can help subscribers work through the process of resolving identity theft issues. For additional tips, please visit

Robert Siciliano is a McAfee consultant and identity theft expert. See him explain how a person becomes an identity theft victim on (Disclosures)