Ask the Chief
Identity theft has become a problem in our area, I get unsolicited phone calls from groups asking for money or say I have an outstanding debt which I know does not exist. Is there anything I can do?
Dear Concerned Citizen: Unsolicited calls asking for money is a significant problem; if you have to pay money to get money it is probably a scam and please do not provide any personal information to the caller, rather just hang up. Recently criminals have resorted to identifying themselves as members of the IRS, law enforcement, or other collection groups in which they attempt to scare you into a paying a debt which you are unaware of. The best response is to obtain a name and number of the caller and follow up with the legitimate agency to determine if the debt in fact exists.
Identity theft has significant problems related to it and according to the Center for Problem Oriented Policing, a summary is provided:
1) Financial crimes against the elderly.
2) Various telemarketing and Internet scams.
3) Theft of autos and auto parts aided by fraudulent documentation. As the effectiveness of car security has increased in recent years, making cars more difficult to steal, offenders have exploited weaknesses in documentation systems that link cars to their owners, including registration and owner’s certificates, license plates, and vehicle identification numbers.
4) Thefts from autos. Offenders commonly target wallets and purses, and dispose of their contents for profit.
5) Burglary. Burglaries of residences or businesses may reward offenders with a wide range of personal and business records that can be converted into loans or bank accounts, or provide access to existing accounts.
6) Pickpocketing. Even if there is no credit card in a wallet, or even if the victim notifies the credit card issuer that a card has been stolen, the offender can use the victim’s driver’s license or other personal information to obtain a new card, or even establish credit with banks. Health insurance cards commonly list the holder’s social security number as an identifier.
7) Street robbery. Personal information and credit cards are an important target of muggers, who may sell such information and cards on the street.
8) Counterfeiting and forgery. Offenders use the latest technologies to reproduce credit cards, checks, driver’s licenses, passports, and other means of identification.
9) Trafficking in human beings. Studies have found that stolen identities and false documentation are essential to successful international trafficking in prostitution and other illegal labor markets.
10) Check and card fraud. This is complex but very easy to commit once an offender has a victim's checks or credit cards. Retailers give only cursory attention to card users' identity (the signature), and on the Internet or telephone, there is no easy way to authenticate the user.
If you believe you have become the victim of identity theft there is help available by contacting the agencies below:
Major credit reporting agencies:
Equifax, P.O. Box 74021, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241. Phone: 1-800-916-8800. www.equifax.com
Experian (formerly TRW), P.O. Box 8030, Layton, UT 84041-8030. Phone: 1-888-397-3742. www.experian.com.
TransUnion, P.O. Box 390, Springfield, PA 19064. Phone: 1-800-916-8800. www.transunion.com
To file an identity theft complaint:
By phone, toll-free: 1-877-ID-THEFT (1-877-438-4338)
By mail: Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Washington, DC 20580
To opt out of prescreened credit card offers by phone, toll-free: 1-888-5-OPT-OUT
To learn about privacy choices for personal financial information online:http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/privacy/default.htm
Federal Government Resources:
Department of Justice: www.usdoj.gov/criminal/fraud/idtheft.html
FTC: www.consumer.gov/idtheft and www.ftc.gov
CALPIRG and USPIRG: www.pirg.org
ID Theft Resource Center for Law Enforcement: http://www.idtheftcenter.org/law_enforcement.shtml
Identity Theft Survival Kit: www.identitytheft.org
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse: www.privacyrights.org
Identity Theft Protection Services: http://www.reviews.com/identity-theft-protection-services/
Law Enforcement Consortia:
International Association of Financial Crime Investigators: http://www.iafci.org/web
“Coping With Identity Theft: What to Do When an Impostor Strikes,” by Privacy Rights Clearinghouse www.privacyrights.org.
“Identity Theft Survival Kit” and “From Victim to Victor: A Step-by-Step Guide for Ending the Nightmare of Identity Theft,” by Mari Frank. Available at www.identitytheft.org
"Identity Theft: When Bad Things Happen to Your Good Name," by Federal Trade Commission (September 2002). Phone: 1-877-ID-THEFT.
Case Planner. Identity Theft Risk Management and Resolution Software for Consumers. Offers extensive help to organize one's case, from risk reduction to resolution of problems should one be victimized. Find it at: http://www.globalfraudsolutions.com/
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