Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the United States. It happens in Dillon and it could happen to you. The more you know about identity theft, the safer you will be.
Facts about Identity Theft
It is estimated that as many as 750,000 people nationwide become victims of identity theft each year (Denver Post, 1/23/03)
Identity theft is the biggest and fastest growing consumer problem in the state, according to the Colorado attorney general’s office.
Colorado is ranked 11th nationwide in the number of identity theft complaints to the Federal Trade Commission.
Victims of identity theft spend approximately 175 hours and $1,000 of their own money trying to amend their credit reports, deal with their creditors and work with law enforcement.
Identity theft is not merely a crime among the elderly; it is a crime that can affect anyone.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is when someone fictitiously or without authorization assumes your identity and in so doing subjects you to civil liability, criminal prosecution, collections, etc.
Most Common Forms of Identity Theft
Flagging: Identity thieves look for the raised flag on your mailbox. They take letters addressed to creditors that may contain checks and personal information. The thieves then “wash” checks and write their own name into the “Pay to the order of” line, and cash the check. It may take months to discover this form of identity theft.
Skimming: Skimming involves the use of a small electronic device to capture your account information from debit or credit cards. Skimmers can be hand-held or affixed to ATM machines.
Dumpster Diving: Identity thieves search your discarded trash for pre-approved credit card applications or other personal financial documents, and then use the information therein to make purchases.
Phishing: Phishing attacks use ‘spoofed’ e-mails and fraudulent Web sites designed to fool recipients into divulging personal financial data such as credit card numbers, account usernames and passwords, social security numbers, etc. By hijacking the trusted brands of well-known banks, online retailers and credit card companies, phishers are able to convince up to 5% of recipients to respond to them. Visit http://antiphishing.org/
How to Prevent it from Happening to You
- Don’t sign the back of your credit card. Write “See I.D.” and be prepared to show identification.
- Get a credit card with your photograph on the front.
- Do not write your ATM PIN number on your card or carry it in your wallet.
- Prevent pre-approved credit card offers from being sent to you by calling 1-888-5-OPT-OUT.
- Keep track of all your purchases. Read your credit card and bank account statements thoroughly.
- When in doubt, pay with cash.
- When traveling, use pre-paid calling cards rather than your credit card for phone calls.
- Do not put outgoing bills or mail containing checks in your home mailbox or blue curbside post office mailboxes. Going inside the post office or handing it to a mail carrier are the safest means.
Buy a shredder for personal or financial documents so that “dumpster-diving” felons cannot find your discarded documents intact.
- Choose PIN numbers and passwords that have combinations of letters and numbers.
- Do not use your mother’s maiden name as a PIN. It is easy for others to find and is the most frequently-abused level of security.
- Do not carry your social security card.
- Do not order checks with pre-printed information such as your phone number, social security number or driver’s license number.
- Request copies of your credit report at least once a year. The three reporting companies are:
|Address||PO Box 740241
|PO Box 2002
Allen, TX 75013
|760 Sproul Road |
PO Box 390
- Contact all your financial institutions if you’re ever suspicious about identity theft.
What to Do if You Believe Your Identity Has Been Stolen
Report the crime immediately to the police in the jurisdiction in which it took place.
Report the crime to the Federal Trade Commission. You can report online at www.ftc.gov or call the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP. The FTC does not resolve individual consumer disputes, but your report may help spot a pattern of violations requiring law enforcement action and may ultimately help solve your case.
Call your credit card company as soon as possible to dispute fraudulent charges. Familiarize yourself with you credit card company’s liability policy – printed on the back of every credit card statement.
For more information about identity theft visit the Federal Trade Commission’s Web site.
To file a complaint, the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) accepts online Internet crime complaints at: https://www.ic3.gov