Press Release 5/26/17
Foster Mayo is a Reserve with the Boundary County Sheriff’s Office. He has been a career law enforcement Officer having served with Salt Lake Police Department and retiring at Bonners Ferry Police as Deputy Police Chief. He continues to serve Boundary County as a Reserve Deputy and write crime prevention and safety articles to help the public.
IDENTITY THEFT by Foster Mayo
Let’s define it: Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes. Symptoms vary but you usually become aware of it when a credit card company starts sending you “Nasty-grams” demanding payment on an account in your name that you did not open or use. Other examples include the opening of personal or business accounts at local or internet retailers, creating false identification with your information and their picture, obtain refills for controlled substance prescriptions, obtain cell phones, file bankruptcy, obtain employment, and rent cars that are then used in crimes, particularly in the transportation of drugs. And the newest: utilizing stolen identity to enter the country to commit acts of terrorism.
Here are some stats that SHOULD get your attention. According to the federal trade Commission, last year identity theft struck 1 in every 8 people…..that is 27.3 MILLION Americans in the past five years and more than ten million last year alone. OUCH! The
numbers and rate is getting worse, perhaps as many as 1 in 4 will be a victim in the next five years.
How does Identity Theft occur?
• Stealing records at a business. An unscrupulous employee who has or can obtain access to employee records steals the information and uses it or sells the information to others.
• Unscrupulous store employees make an extra copy of your credit card sales slip when you make purchases.
• Hacking into personal or business computers. Don’t log off your computer when you go to lunch? You should.
• Numbers obtained from credit card slips…. You don’t shred those things?
• Dumpster Diving for junk mail, prescription bottles, etc. You don’t shred EVERYTHING?
• Wallets, purses, Day Timers stolen at work, from your car, from your grocery basket, wherever you left it. Do we have to tie it around your neck?
• Telephone solicitors. A stranger calls up and people give them all the information they ask for…. AMAZING!
• People looking over your shoulder when you are at an ATM.
• Unlocked mail boxes.
• Social security numbers printed on checks, driver’s licenses, insurance cards, etc.
• A hundred other ways not listed here. Four out of five ID theft victims don’t know how the information was stolen.
How vulnerable are you to identity theft? The more you think you are IN-vulnerable, the greater the chance that you WILL be a victim.
Ways to protect yourself
• Minimize the personal information kept in your wallet, purse or Day-Timer.
• Don’t put your social security number on your driver’s license, checks, etc.
• Log off your computer when you are not using it and change your passwords frequently.
• Keep your vehicle, desk, computer and home locked.
• Don’t give anyone that you do not know and completely trust ANY personal information about you.
• Remove your name from marketing lists and catalog mailings.
• Opt-out of the sale or sharing of your financial information when given the opportunity by your credit card, insurance and financial companies.
• Install a LOCKED mailbox.
• Consider having your order for new checks sent to your bank and pick them up in person.
• Keep any credit cards you are not currently using in a safety deposit box or home safe.
• Don’t keep your account numbers in your day-timer or purse.
There are hundreds of other ways to protect yourself and your credit reputation. It is a very worthwhile thing to do. For more suggestions contact your local bank or Credit Card Company.
If you are the victim of Identity Theft, do the following things IMMEDIATELY:
• Place a fraud alert on your credit report by contacting one of the three major credit reporting companies:
o Equifax 1-800-525-6285 www.equifax.com
o Experian 1-888-397-3742 www.experian.com
o TransUnion 1-800-680-7289 www.transunion.com
• File a report with your law enforcement agency.
• Close all accounts whose information has been compromised.
• File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-438-4338 or online at www.consumer.gov/idtheft
• If the fraud was conducted through the mails, contact the US Postal Inspectors 800-372-8347.
The best defense is prevention. Be aware that you can be a victim, be aware that there are things you can do to minimize the danger, be aware of what to do if you are a victim. Don’t be the next victim.