Identity Theft occurs when a person uses the personal information of another to, or attempt to, obtain credit, goods, or services. Personal information can be a name and birthday, a Social Security number, driver's license number, credit card or PIN numbers, or any information that identifies one as a particular individual.
Personal information can be gathered in any number of ways. Locally, mail theft is a popular method of obtaining personal information. Thieves will also go through garbage cans and dumpsters to recover thrown out bills, receipts, and checks for their personal identity information. Some individuals are sophisticated enough to pay persons who commonly receive your personal information legitimately and then these individuals open fictitious credit and checking accounts with your information. In Livermore there has been a 31% increase in Identity Theft cases in the last six months.
Be sure all personal and confidential documents are shredded prior to recycling. A good idea is to put the shredded documents inside a brown paper shopping bag before putting in the recycling cart. Please do not use a plastic bag, as they are not allowed in recycling carts.
What can you do to avoid becoming the victim of Identity Theft?
First pay attention when you provide personal information to others. Ask yourself: Do you trust the person who receives the information? Is it necessary to provide any or all of the information about yourself? Today everyone wants personal information about you. It is impossible to avoid giving out personal information, but if you limit the amount of information you give out and are careful to whom you give it to, this will help minimize you exposure.
Don't put your bill payments in the mailbox in front of your home; use a secured mailbox. Tear up or shred mail you receive with personal information on it. Collect receipts from cashiers when you make purchases with a credit card or check. Avoid carrying all your credit cards in your wallet. Do not leave your Social Security card or password/PIN in your wallet.
Check your statements and credit history/ratings regularly.
If you do become the victim of Identity Theft there are steps you can take to stop it from continuing and reduce your liability. First, report it to the police. Penal code section 530.5 is a relatively new law that makes it illegal for one to commit Identity Theft. Contact and report the crime to the three major credit Bureaus. (See below) Contact and report the incident to the creditor establishments where the accounts have been used or opened without your authorization. Continue to monitor your records to quickly deal with lingering incidents of theft or fraud under your name. Lastly document the steps you have taken once you realized someone has used your personal information. This will help you clear your record. Don't rely on others to know your situation. Unfortunately, it is up to you to clear you name.
One cannot help but share their personal information to others in today's society. It is important to realize this can lead to Identity Theft. It is also important to know how to minimize the chances of you becoming a victim, and if you do become a victim how to fight back.
Equifax - http://www.equifax.com/
P.O. Box 740241 Atlanta ,Ga. 30374-0241
To report fraud call 1 800 525 6285
Credit Report: 1-800-685-1111
Fraud Alert: 1-888-766-0008
Opt Out: 1-888-567-8688
Experian - http://www.experian.com/
P.O. Box 949 Allen, Tx . 75013-0949
Trans Union - http://www.tuc.com/
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834
P.O. Box 505
Woodlyn, PA 19094
Annual Credit Report - http://www.annualcreditreport.com/
Credit Report: 1-877-322-8228
Opt Out: 1-888-567-8688