Take charge: Fight back against identity theft
Identity theft continues to be a growing problem for our citizens. The Littleton Police Department is very concerned about this type of crime, which is becoming increasingly more difficult to investigate and subsequently prosecute.
The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998, makes it a federal crime when someone... "knowingly transfers or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person wit the intent to commit, or to aid or abet, any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of federal law, or that constitutes a felony under any applicable state or local law."
In most instances, a conviction for identity theft carries a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment, a fine, and forfeiture of any personal property used or intended to be used to commit the crime.
Those who commit identity theft usually fall into 3 categories:
- Someone who knows the victim.
- Someone who is unsophisticated.
- A professional identity thief who works by himself or with an organized group.
Unlike your fingerprints, which are unique to you and cannot be given to someone else to use, your personal data CAN be used by others. Identify theft has been around as long as people have made monetary and credit transactions without having to be present or show photo I.D. However, it has become more prevalent through the use of the Internet.
Considered a "dual crime", identity theft is a crime against the individual whose identity has been stolen and the financial institution or Credit Company. Schemes to commit identify theft or fraud also many involve violations or other statutes, such as: credit card fraud, computer fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, financial institution fraud, and social security fraud.
Pretexting – How they get your information
- Stealing wallets and purses;
- Stealing mail;
- Diverting mail -by completing a "change of address" form;
- Dumpster diving -rummaging through personal or business trash;
- Shoulder surfing -looking over your shoulder while you use the ATM;
- Obtaining credit reports fraudulently;
- Acquiring records;
- Searching homes;
- Using the internet;
- Buying personal information from "inside" sources;
- Posing as a telemarketer taking a survey.
Becoming You – 10 Ways ID thieves USE your information
- They call your credit card issuer pretending to be you and have the billing mailing address changed.
- They open a new credit card account using your name, DOB, and SSN. They don't pay the bills and the delinquent account is reported on your credit report.
- They establish phone wireless service in your name or make unauthorized calls that are billed to you.
- They open a utility account under your name.
- They open a bank account in your name and write bad checks.
- They file for bankruptcy under your name to avoid paying debts they've incurred under your name, or to avoid eviction.
- They counterfeit checks or use debit cards and drain your bank account.
- They buy cars or homes by taking out loans in your name.
- They use your SSN, birth certificate, or use another form of I.D. to get a job or a driver's license.
- They create a criminal record under your name (in rare instances).
Minimize Your Risk
- Adopt a "need to know" approach about giving out your personal information to others;
- Never give your credit card numbers or personal information on the phone, through the mail, or over the internet unless you have initiated the contact or know who you are dealing with;
- Pay attention to billing cycles;
- Only carry ID and credit cards or bank cards you will be using;
- Keep items with personal information in a safe place;
- Know who has access to your personal information at work;
- Protect your mail by never leaving bill payments in the mailbox for pick up.
If You Are an IDENTITY THEFT Victim — Related to Banking
- Cancel the account;
- Set up new accounts and change the passwords;
- Stop payment on unauthorized checks;
- Report the identity theft immediately to one of these three credit reporting agencies:
- For stolen checks, notify your financial institution and check-approval agencies:
- The following agencies and websites may also assist you through this process:
- Colorado Bureau of Investigation Identity Theft and Fraud Hotline, 1-855-443-3489
- Federal Trade Commission, 1-877-438-4338 or www.ftc.gov/idtheft
- Social Security Fraud Hotline, 1-800-269-0271
- For tax fraud, notify the IRS at 1-877-777-4778 or www.irs.gov/advocate
- Report internet fraud to the Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov
- Contact local law enforcement. Littleton Police non-emergency number is 303-794-1551.