Detective Charles Leeds.
Campaign: Improve Safety by Being Informed
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your identity or personal information—such as name, driver's license, or Social Security number—without your permission to commit a crime or fraud. There are different types of identity theft, which can occur as criminals are always looking for new ways to exploit consumer information.
Identify theft is a serious crime that in the United States affected approximately 17 million people in 2017. Criminals are engaging in complex identity fraud schemes that are leaving record numbers of victims in their wake. For a better perspective, according to Javelin Strategy Research, approximately 30 percent of U.S. consumers were exposed to a data breach in 2017, an increase of 12 percent from 2016. For the first time, more Social Security numbers were exposed than credit card numbers.
Steps to protect your identity:
- Keep personal information in a secure location. Be proactive in keeping your personal information safe.
- Never give personal information to anyone unless you know well with who you are dealing with.
- Do not give personal information out over the phone or the internet.
- Never carry your social security card in a wallet or purse
- Have your social security number memorized.
- Shred financial documents and paperwork with personal information before discarding it.
- Routinely monitor financial accounts, billing statement, and credit reports.
- Be alert to signs that require immediate action; including bills that do not arrive when expected, unexpected credit card statements, denials of credit for no apparent reason, and calls or letters about purchases you did not make.
Steps to follow if you become a victim of identity theft:
- Place a “fraud alert” on your credit report. The fraud alert tells creditors to follow certain protocols before opening new or making changes to an existing account of an individual.
- Call and place an initial fraud alert on one of the three major consumer reporting companies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion).
- Close any account that has been tampered with or established fraudulently.
- File reports with your local police and the Federal Trade Commission.
We hope this helps you in becoming wiser when protecting your identity from being stolen. Remember, when it comes to protecting your identity, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Be vigilant.
For anonymous reports, please use our Crime Tip Line and let us help you. Call us at 610-278- 8477 or send us an email at NPDTips@norristown.org