Hodges University creates new institute to fight identity fraud

NAPLES, Fla.- The City of Naples ranks fifth in the nation for identity fraud complaints.

The State of Florida has been first on that list for more than seven years.

WINK News got a look at Hodges University’s new Identity Fraud Institute that hopes to get the state off that list.

“I’ve been working with victims since 2007 and I could never figure out why Florida as a whole was not doing something to combat this problem,” said Carrie Kerskie.

Kerskie used to work as a private investigator and is now the new director of the Identity Fraud Institute at Hodges University.

“Everyone was kind of doing their own little things. You know, you have law enforcement doing theirs, some nonprofits doing theirs, but until we bring it all together under one roof, the criminals are still going to have the advantage,” said Kerskie.

Naples has been a target for identity thieves for years, because like any other crime, identity fraud follows the money.

“We have a large affluent population. We also have a lot of tourists that come to visit the area and I refer to it as ‘tourist brain.’ People come here and they’re on vacation and they do things that they wouldn’t normally do at home.”

The new institution will have a research center that will include a network of local and law enforcement that can share key topics on how to prevent identity fraud.

“Eventually we do want to offer some certification programs where people can learn how to help their clients. For example, CPAs or attorneys, they can learn to help their client when they’re a victim of identity theft.”

Kerskie says the average victim spends hundreds of hours trying to restore their identity.

“It doesn’t matter your age, where you live, your income. It happens to anyone at anytime or anywhere.”