By: Detective Sgt. Timothy Gerity
What is Identity Theft and how does it occur?
Identity theft is the act of assuming another persons name, address, social security number, and date of birth in order to commit fraud. Identity theft affects approximately 350,000 to 500,000 victims every year. Criminals have certainly come a long way stealing wallets to a much moresophisticated method of theft.
Identity theft can occur in many ways, but the most common is to assume another personís identity in an effort to make credit card purchases. Thieves hunt through dumpsters and garbage to seer out any discarded mail that might contain personal information. Credit card account numbers, and other useful information such as
birth dates and social security numbers can be obtained from medical, financial, and other personal records. The thieves use post office boxes to remain secluded. Thieves who surf the Internet also obtain information. In addition, personal information can be obtained by employees working at medical offices or by any company that has a database containing personal information.
Prevention of Identity Theft
∑Shred any documents containing personal information before discarding if possible, or deface documents to make them indecipherable.
∑ When making Internet purchases, be sure to use a secure site. The site should display whether it is secure or not while completing the transaction.
∑ Reveal personal information only when necessary.
∑ Check your credit card report annually to ensure accuracy, report any discrepancies to credit bureauís to correct the problem.
What to do if you become a victim of Identity Theft
∑Immediately report the theft to police.
∑ Retain a copy of the police report for credit card companies, banks, and insurance companies.
∑ Contact your credit card company to advise them of the theft.
∑ Cancel your old credit cards and order new cards with different numbers.
∑ Inform the check monitoring agencies and notify the fraud department of the three major credit bureauís to place a hold on accounts.
Identity Theft Resources
Social Security Administration
Fraud Report: 1 (800) 269-0271
Fraud Report: 1 (800) 680-7289
Credit Report: 1 (800) 888-4213
Cancel Pre-Approved credit card offers: 1 (888) 567-8688
Fraud Report: 1 (800) 525-6285
Credit Report: 1 (800) 685-1111 or 1 (800) 997-2493
Fraud Report: 1 (800 301-7195
Credit Report: 1 (800) 682-7654
Cancel Pre-Approved Credit Card Offers: 1 (800) 353-0809