There is a crime wave sweeping the nation. You could be a victim and not even know it yet. Or perhaps you have already been victimized and know firsthand how damaging this particular crime can be. It’s an easy crime to commit-the payoff is usually significant and apprehension of the criminal by police or enforcement agencies can be very difficult, many times impossible. It’s not usually violent in nature but just as damaging. It’s called Identity Theft and it is the fastest growing criminal act in the nation.Identity theft occurs when the “thief” uses your name, date of birth, address, social security number or virtually any other type of identifying type information to commit crimes against your credit. The thieves are able to assume control of your existing assets, such as bank accounts. In many cases, thieves will open new accounts or obtain loans using your information. Many times the victim is unaware of the frauds that have been committed against his/her credit until they are applying for a loan themselves-and declined. . The West Caln Police Department has handled numerous and increasing complaints over the past several years pertaining to Identity Theft. We will diligently pursue your complaint to the best of our ability should you become a victim, however, prevention is key with this crime.
Tips to remember:
-To dispose of items containing your personal information, use a SHREDDER (preferably a cross-shredder). Shred documents containing personal information, account numbers, pre-approved loan/credit card offers, etc, including account numbers.
-Secure any personal information in your home in a locked safe-remember to secure the safe so that it cannot be removed from the home, as well.
-Never provide personal information over the phone, through the Internet, or through the mail unless you initiated the contact and know whom you are dealing with.
-Only carry the credit cards that you will be using. Secure other cards at home or cancel unnecessary accounts. Instead of signing your credit card, write “See ID or Ask for ID” on the back of your credit cards. Report and lost or stolen cards immediately.
-ID Thieves steal mail. Pick up your mail promptly from your mailbox and guard your outgoing mail from theft by dropping off directly at the Post Office and not placing in your unsecured mailbox.
-Memorize unique passwords/PIN numbers. AVOID using your name, date of birth, or the last four digits of your Social Security Number (SSN).
-Order a copy of your credit report from each of the credit reporting agencies annually. Check the information contained within. (There may be a fee for credit reports).
If you are a victim of identity theft:
-Contact all of your creditors immediately and advise them of the fraud. Contact your bank and request that they advise you of any suspicious activity.
-Contact the Credit Reporting Bureaus and request to be placed on the “Fraud Alert”.
-Contact the Federal Trade Commission 1-877-438-4338
-Keep a log of contacts and copies of any documents.
-Contact the West Caln Township Police Department 610-384-3115
(or your local police department)
Identity Theft Resources:
Credit Reporting Bureaus
1-800-525-6285 (fraud reports)
1-800-685-1111 (credit reports)
1-888-397-3742 (fraud reports and credit reports)
1-800-680-7289 (fraud reports)
1-800-916-8800 (credit reports)
US Postal Service Postal Inspection Service
Identity Theft Prevention and Survival