|Staff Reporter Donna Harris can be reached at or 540-668-7295.|
The Mazda salesman allegedly gained access to files on more than 130 consumers. He then sold the information to individuals who opened credit card accounts in the victims' names, according to the United States Attorney's Office in Miami. Potential losses could exceed $1 million.
The investigation is pending.
While the car salesman did not prey upon dealership customers, he could have easily done so.
The salesman acted without the store's knowledge, and the dealership is cooperating in the investigation.
The incident underlines how important it is for dealers to restrict access to credit reports. The U.S. Comptroller of the Currency estimates 500,000 people per year fall victim to identity theft whereby thieves steal personal information to tap bank and credit card accounts.
The U.S. Secret Service, which is investigating the Fort Lauderdale case, suggests dealers limit credit-report access to a few employees and require those employees to log into the computer with an identification number or password.
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