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Identity Theft
If you are a victim of identity theft, file a police report with the Fremont Police Department AND immediately file a report with the Federal Trade Commission

After you have file a police report, submit the IDENTITY THEFT VICTIM’S FRAUDULENT ACCOUNT INFORMATION REQUEST form to your account provider(s). 

Important Links and Information Regarding Identity Theft

What is identity theft?
Identity theft or identity fraud is the taking of a victim’s identity to obtain credit and credit cards from banks and retailers, steal money from a victim’s existing accounts, apply for loans, establish accounts with utility companies, rent an apartment, file bankruptcy, or obtain a job using a victim’s name. Thousands of dollars can be stolen without the victim knowing about it for months or even years.

What Information is Fraudulently Obtained?
  • Person’s name
  • Address
  • Credit card information
  • Driver’s license number
  • Social security number
  • Personal Information

What are the most common ways a theft obtains information?
  • Dumpster diving— going through trash cans looking for straight cut or unshredded papers
  • Stealing mail or wallets
  • Listing in on conversations in public
  • Tricking victims into giving the information over the phone or by e-mail
  • Buying the information, either on the Internet or from someone who may have stolen it
  • Stealing information from a loan or credit application, or paperwork filed at a hospital, bank, school, or business the victim has dealt with
  • Taking it from the victim’s computer, especially ones that lack firewalls
  • Getting it from a friend or relative or someone who works with the victim or has access to the victim’s information
  • Using skimming devises designed to obtain information from the magnetic strip on credit cards
  • Completing a change of address from the U.S. Postal Service to divert mail to another location
  • Buying personal information from an inside source (pay a store employee for personal identifiers)

How can I minimize becoming a victim? 
  • Read the California Office of Privacy Protection's: A Guide for Identity Theft Victims.
  • Be sure to read all privacy information sheets.
  • Carry only what you actually need for identification and limit the number of credit cards in you wallet.
  • Consider ordering a copy of your free credit report each year to verify the information. The three major credit reporting agencies are:
  • Don’t put outgoing mail in your mailbox for pick up with account information or checks. Take to the post office.
  • Keep passwords to financial accounts private. Don’t use personal information for passwords.Avoid using easily available information like your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, and the last four digits of your SSN.
  • Make a list of all your credit card and bank account numbers with customer service numbers and keep it in a safe place.
  • Pay attention to billing cycles. 
  • Store items with personal information in a safe place and shred them before discarding.Verify the company or business you’re providing personal information to and find out how it will be used. 
  • Find out how information will be used and whether it will be shared with others before you reveal any personally identifying information.
  • Be sure to read the private policy on all websites. 
  • Keep items with personal information in a safe place. Always tear or shred items with personal information before discarding them. 
  • Do not give personal information over the phone, through mail, or via the internet on unsecure sites. 

Consequences of Identity Theft
Identity theft or identity fraud is the taking of a victim’s identity to obtain credit and credit cards from banks and retailers, steal money from a victim’s existing accounts, apply for loans, establish accounts with utility companies, rent an apartment, file bankruptcy, or obtain a job using a victim’s name. Thousands of dollars can be stolen without the victim knowing about it for months or even years.


What to do if you have been victimized? 
  • If you are a victim of identity theft, file a police report with the Fremont Police Department AND immediately file a report with the Federal Trade Commission
  • Contact the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit report. 
  • Contact financial institutions such as banks and credit card companies to check for unusual activity. 
  • If your checks have been stolen or misused, close the account and ask the bank to notify the appropriate check verification service. You should also contact the three major check verification companies to alert retailers that use their databases not to accept your checks. 
  • Contact SCAN at 1-800-262-7771 to find out if bad checks have been passed. 
  • Contact utility companies (power, water, phone, cable, etc.) to check for unusual activity. 
  • Contact the Social Security Administration Inspector General Fraud Hotline at 1-800- 269-0271. 
  • Keep a log or diary of all information gathered regarding the identity theft. 

Top 10 Tips for Identity Theft Protection

 An identity thief takes your personal information and uses it without your knowledge. The thief may run up debts or even commit crimes in your name. The following tips can help you lower your risk of becoming a victim.

 

1. Protect your Social Security number.

Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet. If your health plan (other than Medicare) or another card uses your Social Security number, ask the company for a different number.


2. Fight “phishing” – don’t take the bait.


Scam artists “phish” for victims by pretending to be banks, stores or government agencies. They do this over the phone, in e-mails and in the regular mail. Don’t give out your personal information – unless you made the contact. Don’t respond to a request to verify your account number or password. Legitimate companies do not request this kind of information in this way.   Bottom line:  never give out your personal information – unless you made the contact.

3. Polish Your Password Practices.

Identity thieves love passwords because they open doors to our personal information.  Get tough and organized now.  Use different passwords to all your accounts.  Make those passwords strong with at least eight characters, including a mix of numbers, letters and symbols (such as $+r0<ghH@H).  Hide them safely, and keep them handy.  Good password practices are work, but fixing an identity theft problem is hard labor.
 

4.  Be Mysterious on Social Networks.


What you share on social networks (your home or email address; children’s names; birth date and so on) is what tech-savvy thieves use for scams, phishing and account theft.  Don’t over-share.

 
5. Shield Your Computer and Smartphone.


Protect your personal information on your computers and smartphones. Use strong passwords and firewall, virus and spyware protection software that you update regularly.  Steer clear of spyware. Download free software ONLY from sites you know and trust.  Do not install software without knowing what it is.  Set Internet Explorer browser security to at least “medium”.  Do not click on links in pop-up windows or spam emails.


6. Click with Caution.


When shopping online, check out a Web site before entering your credit card number or other personal information. Read the privacy policy and look for opportunities to opt out of information sharing. (If there is no privacy policy posted, consider shopping elsewhere.) Only enter personal information on secure Web pages with “https” in the address bar and a padlock symbol at the bottom of the browser  window. These are signs that your information will be encrypted or scrambled, protecting it from hackers.


7. Check your statements.

Open your credit card bills and bank statements right away.  Check carefully for any unauthorized charges or withdrawals and report them immediately.  Call if bills don’t arrive on time.  It may mean that someone has changed contact information to hide fraudulent charges.


8. Stop Pre-Approved Credit Offers.

Stop most pre-approved credit card offers. They make a tempting target for identity thieves who steal your mail. Have your name removed from credit bureau marketing lists. Call toll-free  1-888-5OPTOUT (888-567-8688). Or opt out online at www.optoutprescreen.com.

9. Check Your Credit Reports – for FREE.

One of the best ways to protect against identity theft is to monitor your credit history.  You can get one FREE credit report every year from each of the three national credit bureaus:  Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.  Request all three reports at one or be your own no-cost credit-monitoring service.  Just spread out your requests, ordering from a different bureau every four months.  (More comprehensive monitoring services from the credit bureaus cost from $44 to over $100 per year.)  Order your free annual credit reports by phone, toll-free, at 1-877-322-8228; or online at www.annualcreditreport.com.  Or you can mail in an order form.


10. Ask Questions.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions when a business or agency asks for your personal information.  Ask how it will be used, how it will be shared and how it will be protected.  Explain you are concerned about identity theft.  If you’re not satisfied with the answers, consider taking your business somewhere else.