Identity Theft Facts
- 27.3 Million Victims in the U.S.
- There is one new victim every 79 seconds.
- Total Cost of over $52.6 Billion.
- 16% reported a friend, relative or co-worker was the person that stole their identity.
- Almost 25% of identity theft or credit fraud complaints involve seniors but the average age is 41.
- The average victim will spend 600 hours and $1,500 clearing up resulting problems.
Don’t Be a Victim
Keep your social security number in a safe place
If you carry your social security card in your wallet or billfold MOVE IT. Store it in a safe place where only you have access.
Keep your banking information including account numbers in a safe place.
If you must store your banking records store them in a safe place where only you have access. If you no longer need to maintain records for tax purposes destroy the banking records.
Invest in a cross cut shredder.
Shred all mail that has your name, social security number, date of birth. Shred any paperwork that references account numbers. Shred all credit card offers. Shred the checks that are often sent by credit card companies if you do not intend to use them. Just throwing them away is not the solution.
Keep your virus definitions up to date on your computer and if you do not already have one, invest in a firewall.
Many malicious software programs are designed to harvest any personal information stored on your computer. Keeping antivirus and firewall programs up to date with the most current releases. These programs are ineffective if they are not kept up to date.
If you receive a request for your information, social security number, account number(s), date of birth, only give that information when absolutely necessary. If the request comes in the form of a phone call make absolutely sure you know whom you are speaking with. The best practice is to never give that information over the telephone unless YOU initiated the contact. Your bank, credit card company, and other places you do business with most likely HAVE that information and do not need to request it from you. This also applies to requests for information over the computer. NEVER respond to an email requesting any information. There are may fraudulent emails that look VERY authentic. If you receive a request that looks authentic, call the business requesting the information to verify that they do need it, and, if they do, WHY they need it.
Safeguard PIN Numbers & Account Numbers
NEVER share your PIN number with ANYBODY. If you read your agreement with your banking institute the practice of sharing PIN numbers is usually expressly forbidden. If you choose to share your pin number and your card is used fraudulently the bank will still make you liable for the debt. You probably will not be able to recover your money. Many scams operate by requesting PIN numbers and then making cash withdrawals from your account. These scams are conducted outside of the United States where your local Sheriff’s Office has no jurisdiction. These crimes are exceptionally difficult to prosecute.
Many residents receive phone calls from a person claiming to be a sweepstakes representative. The caller typically says that the company has a “partial” account number, and in order to deposit the winnings the rest of the account number needs to be verified. This too is a scam. The groups that run these scams collect bank routing numbers that ONLY identify the banking institute. They then place calls to area residents and may gain access to several dozen accounts before law enforcement is notified of the scam. They use the victim’s account number to make purchases over the internet and make cash withdrawals until the victim is notified that he/she is overdrawn. The best practice is to NEVER give out account information over the telephone.
Stop Junk Mail & Phone Solicitations
Call 1-888-5 OPT OUT to stop unsolicited credit card offers from appearing in your mailbox.
Stop other junk mail by writing to: DMAChoice, Direct Marketing Association, PO Box 643, Carmel, NY 15012-0643 Include your complete name, address, zip code and a request to “activate the preference service”. For up to five years, this will stop mail from all member organizations that you have not specifically ordered products from. Or you can click here Direct Marketing Association for their website. Here you can fill out and submit online form or you can download a form, print it and mail it in to them.
Click here for the National Do Not Call Registry
If you have already become a victim
- Report the fraudulent transaction to law enforcement IMMEDIATELY. Be prepared to show identification to prove that you are who you say you are.
- Complete an identity theft affidavit and return the same to the company where the fraudulent charges originated along with a copy of your report from law enforcement. Click here to download an identity theft affidavit from the Federal Trade Commission.
- Contact the toll free number from any of the three major consumer reporting agencies and place a fraud alert on your credit reports. The company you call is required to contact the other two which will place the alert on their version of your report.
- Request copies of your credit history and look for inquiries or debts from companies that you haven’t contacted, accounts you didn’t open, and debts in your name that you cannot explain.
- Make sure your social security number, address, name, initials, and employer is correct.
- If you find fraudulent information have it removed.
Click here to learn how to have fraudulent information removed from your credit history. This information is provided by the Federal Trade Commission.
- Equifax: 1-866-349-5191
P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
- Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
Close any accounts that you believe have been compromised.
If you think there is a possibility that an account has been accessed without your authorization call the company and speak with their fraud department. Close any accounts that you or your spouse did not open.
Sheriff's Office: 229-248-3044 Fax: 229-248-3850 Jail: 229-248-3050