Sheriff Joe Arpaio Falls Victim to Identity Theft - Injured
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Sheriff Joe Arpaio Falls Victim to Identity Theft

The self-proclaimed "toughest sheriff in America," Joe Arpaio, has fallen victim to identity theft in the form of credit card fraud.

The outspoken sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, which includes Phoenix, said that his credit card information was stolen and used to purchase $291 worth of groceries in Chicago, reports Reuters. Arpaio hasn't visited the Windy City in years.

Arpaio has gained fame (and come under fire) for hard-line tactics against illegal immigrants and suspected criminals -- as well as for other stunts like alleging President Obama's birth certificate was "forged."

Perhaps he should have focused his energies on preventing identity theft instead?

The takeaway from this case should be that no one, not even Sheriff Joe Arpaio, is safe from identity theft. Because if identity thieves are not scared of hijacking Arpaio's information, they surely will not hesitate to steal yours too.

Here are five tips to protect yourself:

  • Watch Out for Imposters. Legitimate businesses will rarely ever ask for your personal identifying information like Social Security numbers and bank account numbers over the phone or via email. If you receive such a request, you should be on guard for potential fraud.

  • Choose Unique Passwords. A generic PIN like "password" may be easy to remember, but it's also easy for identity thieves to steal. Also avoid passwords that use common information like your birthdate or address.

  • Carry Only What You Need. The more credit cards and documents you carry around, the greater the risk that you'll lose something. And if your wallet is truly a mess, you may have no idea that something is missing.

  • Sign Up for Credit Card Alerts. Most credit card companies have a system in place where they will notify you of suspicious transactions. These are usually free and easy to sign up.

  • Check Your Statements. Don't throw away your monthly statements without reading them. Make sure all of your transactions are legitimate.

If you have fallen victim to an identity thief, you should contact the appropriate authorities. To learn more, check out FindLaw's free Guide to Online Fraud and Identity Theft, and talk to an attorney to learn how you can recover any damages.

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