The Federal Trade Commission estimates as many as 9 million Americans are the victims of identity theft every year. In Wichita alone, at least 500 identity theft cases have been reported every year since 2008.
Jane Keehn just graduated from Kansas State University in December. In two weeks, she'll be heading off to graduate school in Oklahoma. Along with packing and preparing for classes, Keehn recently had to add another daily chore to her routine.
“I talk to banks, different agencies and credit bureaus daily,” Keehn said.
Last month, Keehn left her purse in her car while she was at work. Sometime during her shift, a thief smashed the window and snatched her bag along with everything inside. Four credit cards, her driver's license and even her social security card were all gone.
Within an hour, Keehn says the burglar racked up thousands of dollars in purchases.
“As I was canceling the cards they would just move on to the next card,” Keehn said.
When all her cards were canceled, Keehn says the crook opened checking accounts in her name. Then, Keehn found out they had applied for an Oklahoma driver's license with her name and information.
“The thing is, if it would have just ended with credit cards and those can be replaced. I can get my money back. I can buy a new bag. However, knowing that it's one step further, they're trying to create a new me, that's an entire different situation,” Keehn said.
Keehn is one of 225 Wichitans whose identity has been stolen this year.
“There's just always an opportunity out there for thieves who are wanting to make some money to your expense,” Lt. Clark Wiemeyer with the Wichita Police Department said.
Keehn says she had hoped for a fresh start in grad school but she knows she'll still be trying to clear her name long after she moves.
“Yes, I'm a victim, but I could have protected myself better. That's the kicker, I could have prevented this,” Keehn said.