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Wednesday, March 6, 2013 - 23:06
HATCH, N.M. — Identity theft and fraud reports are on the rise in the Village of Hatch with more reports expected in the coming days.
During the last week and a half, the Hatch Police Department has seen the number of reported cases increase to 20 with an estimate loss of $5,500.
"It's all of the banks here in Hatch," said Police Chief Mike Vega, of the number of banks affected.
Talk of the identity theft and fraud has been spreading throughout town with most people knowing several victims.
"Three of my family members have been affected," said Carolyn Archer.
She herself was also affected after her bank alerted her of suspicious activity.
"I got a call last Sunday from my bank asking if I was shopping at JC Penny's," Archer said. "I said no, I'm at home right now."
Her bank didn't allow the transaction to go through, but there are several others who didn't have the same luck.
Life-long Hatch resident Loretta Angel knew something was wrong when she tried to use her card on pay day and it was declined.
"I call my bank in the morning and they say it's for $300 for JC Penny's in Arizona," Angel said.
Her husband also had his card used for $500 overseas.
The bank quickly placed a block on their card and like all victims have been able to recover their losses through their banks.
"It's quite alarming especially in a a small community like we have," Vega said. "It can impact our people a lot."
Vega said all banks in town have informed him of their own internal investigations.
He urged residents to change passwords, shop on secure websites and keep track of their accounts.
He added people who have been affected should report the crime even if no money was taken.
He said the department can analyze trends and work on solving the series of crimes.