Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal identification information. It might be your name, Social Security number, credit card number, bank account number, etc. to commit theft, fraud or other crimes.
How do they get my identity?
There are many, many ways that your identity may be stolen. You may be talked out of identifying information over the phone or e-mail. Oftentimes, your credit card information is obtained by employees of businesses where your credit cards are used. (Sometimes, especially at restaurants, we give our actual cards to a waiter/waitress to take with them, out of our sight. It's easy for them to simply write down our card information, including the security code on the back!) Your identity might be stolen by someone digging through your trash and finding documents that you've discarded; or by stealing your wallet or purse. High-tech devices also exist that read your credit card information as you swipe it through a card reader.
What do they do with my identity
- Open new credit card accounts, with a new address (where the bills will be sent - and you won't know it!) and spend them to the maximum credit limit.
- Open new bank accounts, create counterfeit checks or take out loans in your name.
- Create government identification (which contains your name and the thief's photo), which can be used to obtain government benefits in your name or file fraudulent tax returns.
- Use your identity to work, using your Social Security number.
- May be arrested under your name
How do I know if my identity has been stolen?
- Always closely monitor your bank statements and credit card statements each month.
- Run regular credit reports on yourself (they're free).
- You may also find out that your identity has been stolen when you receive a call from a collection agency trying to collect a debt, when you have problems securing a loan or when you receive something in the mail about an apartment that you never rented or a job that you never held.
What do I do if my identity has been stolen
- File a police report. This "Identity Theft Report" entitles you to certain rights and protections when provided to the major credit reporting agencies.
- Run a credit report on yourself. Examine it closely, looking for financial accounts that you did not establish.
- Notify creditors to dispute unauthorized transactions.
- File a report with the Federal Trade Commission.
For further information, click here.
The Golden Rules of Scam and Identity Theft Prevention
- If it sounds too good to be true, it's most likely a scam (winning a monetary prize, receiving an unexpected check or money order, etc.)
- Don't fall for pressured scare tactics from callers. Take the time to do your research.
- Be suspicious of anyone calling you and requesting you to send money.
- NEVER wire money to someone who you have never met in person.
- Never share your financial account or other identifying numbers with anyone.
- Regularly run credit reports on yourself.
If you're not sure if it's a scam or not, please feel free to contact the Sheriff's Office. We may be able to provide you with related information or help you to determine its validity.