You are here

Identity Theft/Financial Crimes

Key Documents

In today’s technology age, chances are good that some of your personal information is available on the Internet. Some companies make their profits from gathering information electronically and making it available to their clients. This information is used by marketing companies, advertisers, insurance companies, attorneys and more. It is up to the “information brokers” to screen their clientele so that they do not make their service available to would-be information thieves. Sometimes, however, there is a breakdown in security measures, and the results can be devastating. 

Fortunately, several states require that companies inform people when their personal information has been compromised. The advantage to the victim in this situation is that the earlier it is detected, the less damage that is done.

Sadly, there is not much that can be done to prevent at least some personal information from being posted online, but there are steps that can be taken to minimize the potential damage should personal information be compromised.  The most important recommendations are:

  • Shred anything and everything that contains personal information.
  • Notify the police department as soon as you discover you have become a victim.
  • You should obtain a copy of your credit report at least twice a year to check for suspicious activity. You can get a report once a year for free by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com. This is the ONLY site authorized by the federal government to provide your credit report annually free of charge. DO NOT be fooled by other sites that tout free credit reports. It is suggested that once per quarter after that you visit the three credit reporting agency sites listed below for a copy of their credit report. Be aware you may have to pay a fee for those reports. Here are the links for those agencies: www.experian.com; www.transunion.com; www.equifax.com.

Safety Tips to Avoid Identity Theft

  • Guard your personal information. Don't give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or on the Internet unless you've initiated the contact or are sure you know who you're dealing with. Before you share any personal information, confirm that you are dealing with a legitimate organization.
  • Treat your mail carefully. Deposit your outgoing mail in post office collection boxes or at your local post office, rather than in an unsecured mailbox. When ordering new checks, pick them up from the bank instead of having them mailed to your home mailbox.
  • Treat your trash carefully. Shred your charge receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, checks and bank statements, expired charge cards that you're discarding and credit offers you get in the mail.
  • Treat your trash carefully. Shred your charge receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, checks and bank statements, expired charge cards that you're discarding and credit offers you get in the mail.
  • Keep track of your personal belongings. Keep your purse or wallet in a safe place at work; do the same with copies of administrative forms that have your sensitive personal information.

What to do if you have been a victim of Identity Theft

Four things to do as soon as possible when you discover you have been a victim of identity theft:

  1. Review your credit reports and place a fraud alert on them
    1. Equifax - 1-800-525-6285
    2. Experian - 1-888-397-3742
    3. TransUnion - 1-800-680-7289
  2. Close the accounts that you know or believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently
  3. File a report with your local police department or the police in the community where the identity theft took place
  4. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. 1-877-ID-Theft (438-4338) and www.consumer.gov/idtheft.
Share
updated Aug 15, 2018