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Holidays bring identity theft and counterfeit currency

DA's Office provides tips for consumers and retailers to combat crimes

— Albany County District Attorney David Soares is warning people to be aware of the potential for identity theft and counterfeit currency as the holiday shopping season kicks off.

Soares on Wednesday, Nov. 20, was joined by the Secret Service, local law enforcement representatives, and SEFCU during a press conference highlighting how identity theft and counterfeit currency victims are affected and what can be done to prevent it. The District Attorney’s Office said counterfeit activity has significantly increased in the area in recent years, along with instances of identity theft.

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Albany DA warns people to be aware of identity theft and counterfeit currency during the holiday shopping season.

“As we enter the biggest shopping season of the year, I urge local retailers, businesses and financial institutions to be vigilant in their transactions with cash currency,” Soares said in a statement. “We see an increase in counterfeit activity around the holiday season and retailers are on the front lines of detecting and stopping the passing of fraudulent currency.”

Soares urged people to frequently check their bank accounts and immediately report any suspicious active to their bank and local police.

“Detection and reporting are essential in responding to identity theft and from stopping phony bills and credit cards from being passed around the Capital District this season,” Soares said in a statement.

Counterfeit groups are using easy access to highways and the multitude of area retailers to exchange “phony dollars” for merchandise and gift cards, according to law enforcement officials. After using counterfeit money locally, criminals will quickly flee the area unless apprehended.

Identity theft incidents have also been reported, which have criminals using the bank accounts to order items online or to generate fake credit cards for in-store purchases.

John DeCelle, chief marketing officer of SEFCU, said education is “one of the most effective ways” to prevent identity theft.

“SEFCU is committed to ensuring that our members know how to keep their confidential information safe,” DeCelle said in a statement. “In addition, we also provide a number ways members can easily monitor their accounts – like online banking and smartphone apps – so they can quickly detect unauthorized transactions.”

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