By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
"They're getting sharper and sharper," says Vaughn, whose company leases mostly high-end European cars.
This summer, the Federal Trade Commission called identity theft "a crime of the times" and released survey results showing that 4.6 percent of Americans were identity theft victims last year. A third of those had people opening new accounts fraudulently created in their names, which usually adds up to five-figure losses in the accounts of the real account holders.
Bulban, at Texas Mustang Auto, says he expects things will get worse before they get better. With computerized databases, high-resolution printers and other tools widely available--and law enforcement slow to the punch--he believes ID theft is just beginning to come of age. "It's like the Internet was in 1994," he predicts. "It's only starting to take off."