- Identity Theft what is it?
- Identity theft is the fraudulent use of your name and identifying data by someone else to obtain credit, merchandise, or services.
- Identity theft is the nations fastest growing financial crime, and the damages to consumers are becoming astronomical.
- Identity theft claimed approx. 9.9 million victims last year alone.
- On average, 1 in every 5 households has experienced some form of Identity theft.
- Victims typically lose approx. $1,000 dollars and can spend up to 2 years trying to clear their name and credit.
- Identity theft is an equal opportunity crime, affecting victims of all races, incomes, and ages.
- Identity theft cannot be 100% prevented from occurring but you can
minimize your risk by managing your personal information cautiously and
- How Identity Theft Occurs
- “The government standard of true identity” for you to prove who you are, you need to prove three things. Your name, social security number, and your date of birth.
- Thieves obtain your personal information and use this to open accounts,
credit cards, and obtain merchandise or services under your name
- How do criminals obtain this information?
- Sorting through discarded trash. (Dumpster diving) very common at places of business, i.e. car rental company’s.
- Mail theft- incoming and outgoing mail
- Shoulder surfing
- Telephone solicitation / phone scams
- Public records, the internet
- Pre-approved credit card applications
- Through consumer collection points i.e. sweepstake forms, warranty cards, applications.
- Using an accomplice within one of these organizations.
- Using a skimmer device, a small device which they can scan your credit card information without your knowledge and obtain all your identification off of it.
- Stolen wallets and purses
- Other personal information available to them, which may be on display
in your home, in your vehicle or work location.
- How can we minimize our risk of Identity fraud?
- Shredder (cross) – shred all personal information before discarding.
- Op out of everything
- Mail bills and other personal information at the post office. (Mailbox flag up is a signal for criminals wanting to steal your mail)
- Keep all financial documents in a secure place.
- Before providing personal information, make sure the individual or business has a valid reason for requiring it.
- Do not give out personal information over the phone, unless you initiated the call to a known and respected company.
- Same goes for solicitation over the phone, do not give money or other contribution over the phone. If you wish to contribute to there cause find out whom they are then look them up for yourself. (I.e. Michigan Sheriff association asking for you to give money. I suggest contacting your local police to give donation.)
- Be cautious and keep an eye on your credit cards at all times. (I.e. restaurant)
- When ordering checks have them sent to your bank.
- Have regular income checks electronically deposited in your account
- Include “check I.D. along with signature on back of credit cards.
- Get a copy of your credit report annually to verify your accounts and report any discrepancies.
- Do not carry Social Security cards around with you.
- Check financial statements promptly, looking for charges you did not
- What to do if your Identity’s been stolen
- Place a fraud alert on your credit reports and review your credit reports.
- Close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
- File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place.
- File a complaint with the FTC (Federal Trade Commission)
To file a complaint or to learn more about Identity theft, visit website www.consumer.gov/idtheft. Or call 1 (877) 438-4338.
Equifax – www.equifax.com to order a report, call 1-800-685-1111; to report fraud, call: 1 (800) 525-6285.
Experian – www.experian.com to order a report, call: 1-888-397-3742; to report fraud, call: 1 (888) 397-3742.
Trans Union – www.transunion.com/ to order a report, call: 1-800-916-8800; to report fraud, call: 1 (800) 680-7289.
Any questions or concerns please feel free to the Community Services Unit (616) 632-6221