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Regional Spotlight – NY Consumers Say They’ll Still Use Credit Cards

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By Danny Teigman

RISMEDIA, August 8, 2008-(MCT)-Two days after a federal investigation unraveled America’s largest identity theft scandal, many Long Islanders shopping at retailers named in the security breach said they were aware of the scope of the problem but still felt secure making credit card purchases-even though friends and family had been victims in the past.Some, such as Harold Rosenthal, 74, of Melville, had a fatalistic attitude toward identity theft and credit card use.

“It’s the same as anywhere else,” said the retired attorney as he walked into a Boston Market restaurant on Route 110 in Melville. “No place is invulnerable. It can happen anywhere.”

Rosenthal explained that his wife, Marilyn, 70, bought tires in Huntington about three years ago and later discovered that within an hour of doing so her credit card had been used twice in Queens. The Rosenthals called their credit card company and the charges were removed.

Motivated by that incident and a letter he said he had received from State Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset) regarding ID theft, Rosenthal wrote back offering a solution: Businesses should not be allowed to keep copies of bills that contain the complete 16-digit credit card code.

Although Marcellino said he did not remember receiving the letter, he said ideas like Rosenthal’s are forwarded to the appropriate agencies.

“As a member of the consumer affairs committee, we have participated in many hearings,” the legislator said. “We’ve passed and voted on many bills in the Senate that have become law that are designed to protect the public against these identity thieves.”

But for those who chose not to write their elected officials, many said they were relatively unfazed by the ID theft scandal.

Marilyn Picinich, 62, of Mastic Beach, a retired Internal Revenue Service employee, said that ID theft problems at DSW Shoe Warehouse several years ago had done little to alter her shopping behavior.

“I shop online all the time,” she said as she stood outside the Barnes & Noble bookstore in Huntington. “You just have to be careful. If they’re going to get it, they’re going to get it.”

Picinich added that in the interest of personal security, she tries to use only one of her credit cards, and shreds all paperwork with personal information.

Copyright © 2008, Newsday, Melville, N.Y.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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