HOUSTON — One of Houston’s most prominent people fell victim to identity thieves.

Billionaire Tillman Fertitta’s identity was allegedly stolen by Stephanie Hunter.

Authorities believe there may be more than a dozen victims, including Walmart heir Alice Walton.

Investigators with Harris County Precinct 1 said Hunter admitted to buying Fertitta’s social security number and other personal information on the dark web last year.

Authorities said she opened a $15,000 line of credit at the bank and a $5,000 line of credit at Conns.

Fertitta said Lifelock notified him that someone had opened an account in his name.

So if this can happen to someone with endless resources like Tillman Fertitta, how can you protect your identity?

It’s a constant threat we all face, hackers and thieves gaining access to our personal information.

According to the 2019 Identity Fraud Study, over 14 million people had their identities stolen in 2018.

More than three million of them were financially responsible for some of the fraud committed against them.

Nadeem Munshey, with Tech Experts, said no one is 100% protected from identity theft.

“We store private information in things as simple as our inboxes that we’ve kept for the last 10 to 15 years,” Munshey said.

He said once thieves get that personal information they pretty much have your life in the palms of their hands.

“It’s very easy for people to exploit those types of systems and all it takes is a few minutes. If they get access to your password, they get access to your mailbox, they download the entire history and now they can spend their time going through it,” Munshey said.

He’s not surprised big names like Fertitta and Walmart heiress Alice Walton have fallen victim to identity theft because we are making transactions with businesses every day.

“Tillman is probably utilizing the same service station for fuel just as you are. He’s maybe using the same finance group. That data that he is providing them is the same data that you would provide them,” Munshey said.

However, there are ways to protect yourself.

Munshey said to first pay attention to where your data is stored.

Then he said you should take advantage of credit monitoring services that will alert you if there are problems, and add a second layer of security to your accounts like two-step authentication.

Munshey said putting these safeguards in place will make it harder for someone to take all your information.

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