Many people do not realize how easily criminals can obtain our personal data without having to break into our homes. In public places, for example, criminals may engage in “shoulder surfing” watching you from a nearby location as you punch in your telephone calling card number or credit card number or listen in on your conversation if you give your credit-card number over the telephone to a hotel or rental car company.
Even the area near your home or office may not be secure. Some criminals are known to go through your garbage cans or a communal dumpster or trash bin — to obtain copies of your checks, credit card or bank statements, or other records that typically bear your name, address, and even your telephone number. These types of records make it easier for criminals to get control over accounts in your name and assume your identity.
If you receive applications for “preapproved” credit cards in the mail, but discard them without tearing up the enclosed materials, criminals may retrieve them and try to activate the cards for their use without your knowledge. (Some credit card companies, when sending credit cards, have adopted security measures that allow a card recipient to activate the card only from his or her home telephone number but this is not yet a universal practice.) Also, if your mail is delivered to a place where others have ready access to it, criminals may simply intercept and redirect your mail to another location.
In recent years, the Internet has become an appealing place for criminals to obtain identifying data, such as passwords or even banking information. In their haste to explore the exciting features of the Internet, many people respond to “spam” unsolicited E-mail that promises them some benefit but requests identifying data, without realizing that in many cases, the requester has no intention of keeping his promise. In some cases, criminals reportedly have used computer technology to obtain large amounts of personal data.
With enough identifying information about an individual, a criminal can take over that individual’s identity to conduct a wide range of crimes: for example, false applications for loans and credit cards, fraudulent withdrawals from bank accounts, fraudulent use of telephone calling cards, or obtaining other goods or privileges which the criminal might be denied if he were to use his real name. If the criminal takes steps to ensure that bills for the falsely obtained credit cards, or bank statements showing the unauthorized withdrawals, are sent to an address other than the victim’s, the victim may not become aware of what is happening until the criminal has already inflicted substantial damage on the victim’s assets, credit, and reputation.
Above information provided from the DOJ website
If you feel you have been a victim of Identity Theft please contact the Paxton Police Department’s Detective Unit for further assistance.
Below is information along with links to websites given you more information on Identity Theft and also has included a packet that can be downloaded from this page to assist you in the event you become a victim of Identity Theft or Fraud.
What to do if you are a victim of
1-Place a fraud alert on your credit reports and review your credit reports. Fraud alerts can help prevent an identity thief from opening any more accounts in your name. Contact the toll free fraud number of any of the three consumer reporting companies below to place a fraud alert on your credit report. You only need to contact one of the the three companies to place an alert. The company you call is required to contact the other two, which will place an alert on their versions of your report too.
Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com ; PO box 740241 Atlanta GA 30374-0241.
Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com ,PO box 9532 Allen TX 75013
Transunion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com , Fraud victim assistance division, PO box 6790, Fullerton,CA 92834-6790
Once you place the fraud alerts in your file, you’re entitled to order free copies of your credit reports and if you ask, only the last four digits of your SSN will appear on your credit report.
FRAUD ALERTS-There are two types of fraud alerts: an initial alert, and anextended alert.
–An initial alert stays on your credit report for at least 90 days. You may ask that an initial fraud alert be placed on your credit report if you suspect you have been , or about to be , a victim of identity theft. An initial alert alert is appropriate if your wallet has been stolen or if you’ve been taken in by a “phishing” scam. When you place an initial fraud alert on your credit report, you re entitled to one free credit report from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies.
–An extended alert stays on your credit report for seven years. You can have an extended alert placed on your credit report if you’ve been a victim of identity theft and you provide the consumer reporting company with an “identity theft report” When you place an extended alert on your credit report, you re entitled to two free copies of your credit report within 12 months from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies.
In addition, the consumer reporting companies will remove your name from marketing lists for pre-screened credit offers for five years-unless you ask them to put your name back on the list before then
To place either of these alerts on your credit report, you will be required to provide appropriate proof of your identity, which may include your SSN, name , address and other personal information requested by the consumer reporting company. To remove the fraud alert you will need a copy of an identity theft report and proof of your identity. When a business sees the alert on your credit report, they must verify your identity before issuing you credit. As part of this verification process, the business may try to contact you directly. This may cause some delays if you re trying to obtain credit. To compensate for possible delays, you may wish to include a cell phone number, where you can be reached easily, in your alert. Remember to keep all contact information in your alert current.
Identity Theft check list
If you become a victim of identity theft you should do the following:
File a police report
Contact your banker
Notify credit bureau fraud units
Place fraud alert statement on your credit report
Request that the credit bureaus identify accounts closed due to fraud as “closed at consumers request”
Request free credit reports (fraud victims are entitled to two free credit reports from each of the credit bureaus)
Report check theft to check verification companies
Check post office for unauthorized change of address requests
Follow up contacts with a letter and keep copies of all correspondence.
Federal Trade Commision Website More information and documents