Identity theft is one of those crimes that most people don’t think about until they become a victim. Identity theft is one of the easiest crimes for offenders to get away with and one of the toughest crimes for the police to solve. Identity thieves quickly learn that stealing identities is not only easy to do but can also be very profitable.
Listed below is food for thought on this topic.
Identifying Identity Theft
So, what are the signs of having your identity stolen? These are signs that the Federal Trade Commission says to look for:
- Unexplained charges or withdrawals from your financial accounts.
- Failure to receive bills or other mail. This could mean that an identity thief has submitted a change of address for your accounts or perhaps even stolen some mail from your mailbox.
- Receiving credit cards for which you did not apply.
- Denial of credit for no apparent reason.
- Receiving calls from debt collectors or companies about merchandise or services you did not buy.
Preventing Identity Theft
To protect you from identity theft, the Federal Trade Commission and other identity security experts suggest Americans follow these general guidelines:
- Keep your confidential information private. Your bank or Credit Card Company won't call or e-mail to ask for your account information. They already have it.
- Don’t give out your personal information over the telephone, through the mail or via the internet unless you have initiated the contact.
- Secure personal information in your home.
- Utilize passwords for your credit card, bank, and phone accounts – avoid using easily available information like your mother’s maiden name, your own birth date, the last four digits of your Social Security number, or your phone number.
- Ask about the information security procedures at the places that collect personal identifying information about you – like your employer, doctor’s offices, and other businesses. Find out who has access to your information and verify that it is handled securely.
- Keep an inventory of everything you store in your wallet or purse including bank or credit account numbers.
- Monitor your bank and credit card transactions for unauthorized use.
- If you conduct business online, use your own computer. A public computer is less secure, as is wireless Internet.
- Don't store credit card numbers and other financial information on your cell phone.
If you think you have been a victim of identity theft, you should immediately notify your bank, credit card companies and any other creditor you believe may be impacted. It is also vitally important that you report these crimes to the police immediately. The Marshalltown Police Department has helpful resources available that will assist you as you navigate through this complicated event.
If you have any questions about identity theft, please feel free to contact Chief of Police Michael W. Tupper at 641.754.5771 or via email at email@example.com.