Am I a victim of identity theft?
The signs can vary, but typical indicators of fraud include:
· One of your creditors informs you that it has received an application for credit with your name and social security number
· Incoming calls or letters state that you have been approved or denied by a lender that you never applied to.
· You receive credit card, utility, or telephone statements in your name and address that you never applied for
· You no longer receive your credit card statements, or you notice that not all of your mail is delivered to you
· Your credit card statement includes unusual purchases
· A collection agency tells you they are collecting for a defaulted account established with your identity, but you never opened the account
· A law enforcement agency advises you they have your identifying information and/or credit information in the possession of another person.
Any of the above scenarios may indicate that you are a victim of credit fraud and/or that someone borrowed your identity.
What should I do if I'm a victim of ID Theft?
· Immediately report the incident to the police. Please refer to the Clayton Police Departments response to identity thefts.
· Immediately report all stolen cards to the issuers, and request new credit cards. Follow up with written notification.
· Immediately request that fraud alerts be placed on your credit reports indicating that you were the victim of a fraud. The three major credit agencies are Trans Union's, Experian, and Equifax.
· Notify your bank if your checks were stolen, and close your account.
· Notify the check reporting agencies that your checking account number has been compromised.
· Get copies of your credit reports to ascertain if any fraudulent accounts have been open in your name.
· Be prepared to fill out affidavits of forgery to establish your innocence for banks, credit grantors, and recipients of stolen checks. These institutions are joint victims with you and may suffer a financial loss.
· Contact the Social Security Administration if someone is using your social security number for employment purposes. If your social security number is used only to establish credit or new accounts, Trans Union does not recommend that you change your social security number, as this may result in future complications.
· Get a new card, account number, and password if you use an ATM card for banking services. Do not renew your old password.
· If your Drivers License Number has been used for fraudulent transaction, contact the DMV to begin the documentation process in ascertaining a new drivers license number.
· Keep a log and file on the actions that you take, the correspondence you send and receive and the people you speak with as you try to restore your credit. These matters can be lengthy and this documentation will prove to be invaluable as time goes on.
· Notify the local Postal Inspector if you suspect the identity thief has changed delivery of your mail causing your mail to diverted to another address.
The Clayton Police Departments response to ID Theft:
The Clayton Police Department recognizes identity theft as a serious crime, however, such criminal activity is difficult to investigate and prosecute due to the anonymity of the perpetrator.
Many privacy laws prohibit financial institutions such as banks and credit card companies from providing information about your account to the police department. If the Clayton Police Department is able to conduct an investigation, personal information about your accounts will need to be obtained and provided to the detectives by you. In most cases the strongest evidence or leads come from the original documents such as credit card applications and checks.
Although many people have already handled these documents, physical evidence can sometimes be recovered. Photocopies of credit applications and checks supply no physical evidence.
Video surveillance tape recorded by banks and stores may supply some assistance, however, if the suspect's identity is not known, the photo alone will not necessarily provide a named identification.
The Clayton Police Department will document these incidents for you if the criminal offense falls within our law enforcement jurisdiction. However, no further follow-up will take place until the victim or financial institution provides original documents or other evidence held within their control.
The fact that you live in the City of Clayton does not mean that the Clayton Police Department automatically has jurisdiction over your case. The theft of your personal identity can stem from many sources, such as mail theft, past credit applications, billing information and the Internet. Each case is evaluated for the most efficient means of investigation. Consequentially, the law enforcement jurisdiction with the larger portion of the crime will conduct the necessary follow-up investigation. For example: If your identity information is obtained from mail stolen from your mailbox in Clayton, but the fraudulent credit cards are being used to obtain goods and services in Sacramento, then the Sacramento Police Department would most likely conduct the investigation.
In most cases, the banks and credit companies conduct their own investigation and will file the case within the correct law enforcement jurisdiction. When you sign an affidavit of forgery, as required to replace your lost funds, the bank or credit company become the victim and may not wish to cooperate with the police department or pursue prosecution. Based on the institutions lack of cooperation, the Clayton Police Department has no alternative than to stop our investigation.
We strongly recommend that victims of ID Theft take quick and aggressive action as recommended in this brochure to minimize the damage to their credit. We also strongly recommend that all citizens take measures to prevent being the next ID theft victim.
How can I avoid being the next victim?
By reviewing these simple tips, you can significantly reduce your chances of becoming a fraud victim.
· Do not carry your extra credit cards, social security card, birth certificate, or passport in your wallet or purse, except when necessary. This practice minimizes the amount of information a thief can steal.
· Install a lockable mailbox at your residence to reduce mail theft.
· Never put outgoing mail in an unsecured mailbox.
· Never put mail in a US mail box that is too full and can easily be removed.
· Take credit card receipts with you. Never toss them in a public trash container.
· Never leave your purse or wallet unattended at work or in church, restaurants, health fitness clubs, parties, or shopping carts. Never leave your purse or wallet in open view in your car, even when your car is locked.
· Destroy all checks via shredding after immediately after you close a checking account.
· Destroy or keep in a secure place any courtesy checks that your bank or credit card company sends to you.
· Do not have your bank send your new checks to your home address. Tell the bank that you prefer to pick them up.
· Reconcile your check and credit card statements in a timely fashion, and challenge any purchases you did not make.
· Limit the number of credit cards you have, and cancel any inactive accounts.
· Never give any credit card, bank, or social security information to anyone by telephone, even if you made the call, unless you can positively verify that the call is legitimate.
· Minimize exposure of your social security and credit card numbers. If the numbers are requested for check-cashing purposes, ask if the business has alternative options such as a check-cashing card.
· Do not allow your financial institution to print your social security number on your personal checks.
· Safeguard your credit, debit, and ATM card receipts. Shred them before discarding.
· Scrutinize your utility and subscription bills to make sure the charges are yours.
· Memorize your passwords and personal identification numbers (PINs) so you do not have to write them down. Be aware of your surroundings, is anyone watching you input your PIN number?
· Keep a list of all your credit accounts and bank accounts in a secure place so you can quickly call the issuers to inform them about missing or stolen cards. Include account numbers, expiration dates, and telephone numbers of customer service and fraud departments.
· Do not toss pre-approved credit offers in your trash or recycling bin without first tearing them into small pieces or shredding them. Dumpster divers use these offers to order credit cards in your name and mail them to their address. Always do the same with other sensitive information like credit card receipts, phone bills, and such.
· Avoid Credit Repair Scams.
· Order your credit report once a year from all the major credit reporting companies. Check for any unauthorized activity. Should any information not pertaining to you show up on your credit file, contact the creditor(s) and question the account and/or inquiry. You may contact the other major credit reporting bureaus at the address and telephone numbers listed below.
· Never give out personal information over the phone. If it is absolutely necessary, make sure you initiate the phone call. If you make a phone order, advise the vendor you do not want your name on a mailing list.
· Remove your name from pre-approved, unsolicited credit card offers.
· Remove your name from promotional/mailing and telephone number lists.
Identity Theft Resources