Police Special Operations Bureau
IDENTITY THEFT: Ways to prevent it from happening to YOU
Keep your information PRIVATE
- Do not print numbers on checks - social security number, telephone number, account number.
- Never give your credit card number over the telephone.
- Keep your telephone number unlisted.
- Cancel, in writing, any credit cards you have not used in the last six months.
- If your social security number is your medical identification number, be careful. Know how that is handled at a hospital, doctor's office and/or in a medical emergency.
Be sure dispose of your documents properly so no personal information is available.
Shred documents before thowing them away. This includes:
- Credit card statements
- Bank statements
- Pre-approved applications
- Important papers that show identifying numbers
If you desire not to proceed with a loan or a purchase, take all unused copies of the application, paperwork and/or receipts home with you.
Find out about your credit information now
- Request copies of your credit reports from one of the credit reporting agencies.
- When a credit report is run on you (such as when you make an application for any type of loan) you are entitled to a credit report. There is no charge for this report if you are a victim of Identity Theft or if you have been denied credit in the past 60 days. However, the $8.00 that most states charge for a report is well worth the expense to protect yourself.
Equifax Call 1-800-685-1111
Write: PO Box 740241, Atlanta, Georgia 30374
TRW/Experian Call 1-888-888-8553
Write: PO Box 19729, Irvine, CA 92623-9729
Trans Union Call 1-877-322-8228
Write: PO Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-52818
- Prevent your credit report from being sold and perhaps "opt out" of pre-approved credit card offers. Call: 1-888-567-8688
Keep an eye on your mail
- Deposit your mail at the post office or in a postal mail box.
- Lock your mail box.
- If you notice your mail is dwindling, check with the post office.
- When ordering new checks, pick them up at the bank instead of having them delivered to your home.
Keep your important papers at home until you need them
- Empty your wallet of any extra credit cards or other important documents (including your Social Security card) unless you know you are going to need them.
- Memorize your Social Security number. Do not carry your Social Security card in your wallet.
- Memorize all passwords and pin numbers. Keep them private.
Make a list and check it twice . . .
Keep a complete list of all of your financial accounts in a safe place where you can easily access them in case any of them are stolen. These include:
- Credit cards (including account numbers and contact addresses/telephone numbers)
- Bank information (bank name/account numbers/contact addresses/telephone numbers)
- Pre-approved applications
- Important papers that show identifying numbers
Order your Social Security earnings and benefit statement once a year so that you can check to make sure that your earnings are correctly recorded.
IF YOU BECOME A VICTIM:
1. Report the incident to the police immediately;
2. Report the stolen cards to the issuers immediately;
3. Notify your bank in the event that your checks are stolen;
4. In order to prove your innocence, be prepared to fill out
Affidavits of Forgeries;
5. Be prepared to work with retailers;
6. Contact the Social Security Office;
7. Obtain copies of your credit report periodically;
8. Call all three national credit card reporting organizations
immediately to place a "Fraud Alert" on your file;
9. File the complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at
1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338); and
10. Keep copies of all reports in a safe place.
DON'T BE SCAMMED!
Scams and schemes are a criminal's "bread and butter". If you have a computer, a telephone or a mailbox, you could become a victim. Your best defense is to know a scam when you see (or hear) one. Listed below are a few common scams that criminals pitch to innocent people everyday:
1. Credit-related Schemes: You are promised a credit card regardless of your credit history for an advance fee OR you are promised credit card protection or credit repair services, also for a fee. You pay, but the card or service is never delivered.
2. Magazine Sales Scams: You are offered a magazine subscription at a very low price by someone who claims to work for the magazine company. The price is misrepresented and is actually much higher or the magazine is never delivered.
3. Investment Fraud: You are invited to particpate in an investment opportunity and promised spectacular profits with no risk. Instead of making money, you lose it.
4. Overpayment Scams: You advertise something you want to sell and a potential buyer offers to purchase it. The buyer sends a check for more than the asking price and asks you to wire back the difference. You do, but later the buyer's check bounces.
5. Work-at-home Scams: Advertisements promise big earnings for people who want to work at home. You send a check for training or materials and receive a kit with cheap craft materials and discover there are no clients to pay for your work.
6. Vacation/Travel Fraud: You accept an offer for a free or very cheap travel package, but end up paying hidden costs, such as reservation fees or taxes, or listening to a high pressure sales pitch for a timeshare or club membership.
7. Phishing: You get an e-mail or pop-up message that says your account must be updated immediately or it will be closed. You click on a link to a website that looks like it belongs to your bank or other institution and "update" your account by entering personal identifying information. Soon you discover you are a victim of identity theft.
8. Pharmlog: Also called domain spoofing, this technique is used by criminals to redirect web traffic from a legitimate server to their own server where they can steal any personal information that the user types in. Pharmers "poison" the Domain Name Service in order to "fool" a user's browser into linking to a bogus website.
9. Nigerian Money Scam: You are contacted by someone from Nigeria and offered millions of dollars if you will transfer money from a foreign bank to your bank account for safekeeping. When you agree, you are asked to pay huge transfer fees or legal expenses, but receive no money.
10. Prize and Sweepstakes Scam: You are told that you have won a fabulous prize, but must buy something or pay taxes up front in order to claim it. The prize is a cheap trinket, worth far less than the money you paid to claim it.
11. Foreign Lottery Scam: You are offered tickets to enter a foreign lottery and send money, but either the lottery doesn't exist or the tickets never arrive. It is illegal to promote a foreign lottery by telephone or mail in the United States.
12. Pyramids and Multi-level Marketing: For a fee, you are promised big profits in exchange for recruiting new members. Plans that promise profits for recruitment of members rather than for selling goods and services are illegal and usually collapse.
13. Scholarship Scams: A company guarantees scholarship money for an upfront fee, but it only helps locate scholarships rather than awarding them.
14. Charity Scams: A natural disaster is dominating the news and you get a letter/e-mail/phone call asking you to donate funds to help its victims. You send money, but the victims never receive your donation or receive only a tiny portion - the rest goes to cover administrative costs like salaries.
15. Bogus Merchandise Sales: You purchase something advertised for sale on the Internet or through a telemarketing call. You pay for the merchandise, but never receive it or receive an inferior or counterfeit product in its place.
16. Telephone Cramming: Unauthorized charges for goods or services appear on your phone bill, but you miss seeing them because your phone bill is complicated with authorized charges such as voice mail and Internet service.
16. Telephone Slamming: Your telephone service is switched from your current company to another one without your knowledge or permission, resulting in higher charges for long distance and other services.
COMPUTER SAFETY FOR CHILDREN
By educating the community on crime prevention techniques we can reduce the number of crimes and increase the quality of life. The information included in this section provides information to show citizens what they can do to prevent crimes before they happen.
Rules for Ensuring Safe Online Activities for Children
Rule 1: Never allow children (including teenagers) unsupervised access to the Internet. Keep the computer in a public area of the home, never in a child's bedroom. Make it a habit periodically, and without warning, to observe what they are doing on the Internet.
Rule 2: Make use of the Internet a group or family activity in which all members of the household can participate.
Rule 3: Learn the services provided by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or online service so that you know how it works. Determine whether the system allows you to block your child from accessing certain areas, such as chat rooms, and take advantage of those types of services.
Rule 4: Instruct children that whenever they communicate online, they should NEVER give out identifying information, such as phone numbers, addresses, last names, social security account numbers, or names of schools they attend.
Rule 5: Remind children that whatever they are told online may or may not be true. A person who states that she is a 12-year-old girl may, in fact, be a 50-year-old man. Remember – on the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog.
Rule 6: Never respond to message or bulletin board postings that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent or harassing. Remember the stranger in a car rule.
Rule 7: Children should never upload pictures of themselves to people that they do not personally know. They could be sending it to a predator.
Rule 8: Instruct your child never to arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone they have met on the Internet.
Rule 9: Children should never download pictures from an unknown source as there is a good chance that it is pornography.
Rule 10: Monitor the times of day that a child accesses the Internet or online service and the duration of his or her online session. Excessive time online, especially during the evening or late night hours, may be indicative of a problem.
Rule 11: If you become suspicious that your child is misusing the computer, discuss your concerns with the child and, if warranted, consider examining the hard drive for inappropriate material.
Rule 12: Don't make the mistake of using the computer as a babysitter.
Who To Contact If Online Problems Arise
McGruff "Take a bite out of crime"
McGruff is a national symbol for crime prevention education. The character names "McGruff," "McGruff, the Crime Dog," "Crime Dog McGruff," and the slogan "Take a Bite Out Of Crime" are legally protected service marks and trademarks, certain of which are registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office and are held by the National Crime Prevention Council.
The National Crime Prevention Council has developed the following standards as necessary but not sufficient conditions for all uses of the McGruff character, name, or accompanying slogan:
- McGruff must be used primarily for the purpose of communicating crime prevention education.
- McGruff never endorses any person, product, or company. He never endorses, either directly or indirectly, any candidate for political office, any political party, or any campaign, whether issue-oriented or not. He does not lobby.
- Only one McGruff may appear at any event. Children, in particular, may become confused when there are two McGruffs present.