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23 Jul 2014  
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Identity Theft

Have any of the following incidents happened to you?

  • Your ID or Driverís License was stolen.
  • Your personal checks were stolen.
  • Your credit card was stolen.
  • You ordered new checks but never received them.
  • You discovered an unknown bank or credit account in your name.
  • Youíve received collection notices for purchases you did not make.
Avoid becoming a victim!
Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing types of financial fraud. Without stealing your wallet, a criminal can steal your financial identity. Using a variety of methods (including mail theft and/or digging through a personís garbage), a criminal can find (or gain enough information to obtain) a personís credit card numbers, driver license number, social security number, bank account numbers /information, telephone calling card numbers and other key pieces of an individualís identity. Using this information, the criminal can not only access the victimís banking and credit accounts, but can also open new accounts in the victimís name. The criminal will use these new accounts (i.e., credit cards, in-store credit accounts, checking accounts, cell phone service accounts, etc.) to charge up large debts in the victimís name. Once the fraud is detected (i.e., the fraudulent accounts are closed), the criminal will simply move on to the next victim and start the process all over.

Act immediately to stop the thiefís further use of your identity!

Guard your trash.
Use a paper shredder to dispose of any and all unwanted documents with account numbers, bank statements, etc. If someone has used your identity for fraudulent gain, even though you may not have suffered a financial loss (i.e., youíve been reimbursed by the bank or other financial institution) YOU ARE A VICTIM. Not only has your good name and credit been damaged, but there are likely criminal charges for which you can be named as the victim.

Victims should follow the guide points listed below:

  1. Report the crime to the police ASAP. Be prepared to provide as much documentary evidence as possible (i.e., bank records and account statements). If you have a forged check (or other original document handled by the suspect), protect it by placing it into a paper sack. The police can then have these items processed for potential fingerprints.
  2. If your checks are stolen, notify your bank(s) of the theft at once. It is recommended that you CLOSE your accounts and obtain new account numbers. Ask the bank to issue you a secret password that must be used in every transaction.
  3. You may be required to fill out notarized fraud affidavits with banks and credit grantors where fraudulent accounts have been established in your name.
  4. Immediately call all your credit card issuers. If your credit card was stolen, get replacement cards with new account numbers.
  5. Call the fraud units of the three credit reporting companies:
  • Experian (888) 397-3742
  • Equifax (800) 525-6285
  • Trans Union (800) 680-7289
Report the theft of your credit cards or numbers. Ask that your accounts be flagged. Also, add a Victimís Statement to your report Ė THIS IS A MUST.

Victimís Statement Example:
"My SOCIAL SECURITY CARD, ID, or DRIVERíS LICENSE has been used to apply for credit fraudulently. Contact me at 555-123-4567 to verify all applications."

Be sure to ask how long the fraud alert will be posted on your account, and how you can extend it if necessary. If you use an ATM card for banking services, get a new card, account number and password. Do not use your old password. Avoid such commonly used numbers as the last four digits of your Social Security number and your birth date.

Do not record your password on any article or on your credit card. Carry only what you need. Leave extra credit cards and checkbooks at home.

If you have had your checks stolen or bank accounts set up fraudulently, you can report it to the following companies:

  1. National Check Fraud Center: (843) 571-2143
  2. CheckRite: (800) 766-2748
  3. CrossCheck: (707) 586-0551
  4. SCAN: (800) 262-7771
  5. TeleCheck: (800) 927-0188
  6. National Processing Co.: (800) 526-5380
  7. Equifax Check Services: (800) 437-5120
Some of these companies have developed services to aid victims of identity fraud. Some have been able to reduce the time factor in resolving and restoring your check writing privileges and removal of negative remarks on your credit file. Most, if not all of these companies, charge for their services.

You may want to have your SSN changed if your number has become associated with bad checks and credit. Contact your local office of the Social Security Administration. Caution: This step should be reserved for only the most extreme situations. Be sure to notify all credit grantors and credit reporting bureaus of your new SSN.

Notify the Postal Inspector in your area if you suspect mail theft. Theft of the mail or using the mail to commit a crime is a felony.

mailbox image Examples of Mail Fraud:
  1. Mail stolen from your mail box
  2. A forged check sent to you through the mail
  3. You mailed a check to an individual or a company who accepted the funds under fraudulent pretenses
If you have a passport, notify the passport office to be on the lookout for anyone ordering a new passport fraudulently.

Call your telephone, electrical, gas and water utilities. Alert them to the possibility that someone may attempt to open new service using your identification. Cancel your calling card if it has been stolen.

If someone has been using your Driver License number as identification on bad checks, you may want to change the number through the DMV.

Consider seeking legal counsel, especially if you have difficulty clearing up your credit history, or your case is complex and involves a lot of money.

   
Questions?
Tigard's Crime Prevention Officer will be glad to answer any questions regarding identity theft. Contact Jim Wolf at jim@tigard-or.gov or phone 503-718-2561 during regular business hours.

Other Resources:
Visit the Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Resource Page.

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City of Tigard, 13125 SW Hall Blvd, Tigard, OR 97223
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