Police: Identity Theft
Identity thefts continue to be one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States with over 500,000 Americans becoming identity theft victims each year. Can you completely prevent identity theft from occurring? Probably not, especially if someone is determined to commit the crime. But you can minimize your risk by managing your personal information wisely, cautiously and with heightened sensitivity.
The Congress of the United States asked the Federal Trade Commission to provide information to consumers about identity theft and to take complaints from those whose identities have been stolen. If you've been a victim of identity theft, the FTC has developed a website to assist with the reporting and recovery efforts. The FTC puts your information into a secure consumer fraud database and may, in appropriate instances, share it with other law enforcement agencies.
IdentityTheft.gov is the federal government’s one-stop resource for identity theft victims. The site provides streamlined checklists and sample letters to guide you through the recovery process.
What To Do Right Away If Your Identity is Stolen
Step 1: Call the companies where you know fraud occurred.
Step 2: Place a fraud alert and get your credit report.
Step 3: Report identity theft to the FTC.
Step 4: File a report with your local police department.
Identity theft reports are filed with the police department within the victim's residency.
* If an Identity Theft occurred as a result of the use of the internet additional reporting should be made at www.ic3.gov.
Tips to Prevent Becoming a Victim of Identity Theft
- Ensure websites are secure prior to submitting your credit card number.
- Do your homework to ensure the business or website is legitimate.
- Attempt to obtain a physical address, rather than a P.O. box or maildrop.
- Never throw away credit card or bank statements in usable form.
- Be aware of missed bills which could indicate your account has been taken over.
- Be cautious of scams requiring you to provide your personal information.
- Never give your credit card number over the phone unless you make the call.
- Monitor your credit statements monthly for any fraudulent activity.
- Report unauthorized transactions to your bank or credit card company as soon as possible.
- Review a copy of your credit report at least once a year.