No one seems to be home on Nevada's toll-free identity theft hotline. The Las Vegas Sun reportsthat if victims of identity theft call the 877 number, they get a message that the hotline "is being updated and should begin June 1," a date long since past.
If that doesn't deter a desperate caller, the voice follows up with the message that the Nevada Attorney General's Identity Theft Passport program recording is updated on a regular basis.
Not one to be deterred, and a bit desperate after somebody apparently used her credit cards on a gambling Web site this year, Las Vegan Jennifer Perizzolo called (877) 213-5227 repeatedly after somebody apparently used her credit cards on a gambling Web site this year. She left messages but never got a call back.
The phone number is on attorney general's website and on promotional materials given out by law enforcement. Perizzolo went to the Las Vegas Sun after a story was published revealing that not one person had received assistance from the hotline (300 people have requested help since January).
State officials said this week the problem was a lack of funding.
Nevada is second in the nation, behind only Arizona, in identity theft crimes, with 120 cases for every 100,000 residents. Keith Munro, chief of staff at the attorney general's office, said that some letters have been sent to people requesting help, saying that applications are being processed. The AG hopes to process all 300 applications by the end of July. (In response to the hotline fiasco, Munro said, "I'm not familiar with this message, but I'm going to get on top of it." Supposedly, the message has been changed.)
But many people who've called the 877 number don't feel too comforted by the state providing an unmanned answering machine.
"I felt like it was useless to talk to a machine," said 72-year-old Liz Jeckewicz of Las Vegas. Jeckewicz then called the attorney general. But that wasn't a lot better.
"She gave me the 877 number."