Identity Theft Information
Identity theft has been the number one consumer crime in the U.S. for the past five years and is continuing to grow at an alarming rate. The following is a list of things to do if you are a victim of identity theft. This information comes from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Minimize your risk of becoming an identity theft victim. View more tips from the FTC National Resource Center About ID Theft.
How It Happens
How can someone steal your identity? Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information, such as your name, Social Security number, credit card number, or other identifying information, without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes.
Identity theft is a serious crime. People whose identities have been stolen can spend months or years and their hard-earned money cleaning up the mess thieves have made of their good name and credit record. In the meantime, victims may lose job opportunities, be refused loans, education, housing, or cars, or even get arrested for crimes they didn't commit.
Identity Theft Process
If you think your identity has been stolen, here's what to do:
- Contact the fraud departments of any one of the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit file. The fraud alert requests creditors to contact you before opening any new accounts or making any changes to your existing accounts. As soon as the credit bureau confirms your fraud alert, the other two credit bureaus will be automatically notified to place fraud alerts. Once the alert is placed, you may order a free copy of your credit report from all three major credit bureaus.
- Close the accounts that you know or believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. Use the ID Theft Affidavit when disputing new unauthorized accounts.
- File a police report. Get a copy of the report to submit to your creditors and others that may require proof of the crime.
- File your complaint with the FTC. The FTC maintains a database of identity theft cases used by law enforcement agencies for investigations. Filing a complaint also helps us learn more about identity theft and the problems victims are having so that we can better assist you.
Tips for Your Home
Crime Prevention defined is the anticipation, recognition, and appraisal of crime risk and the initiation of some action to remove or reduce it. While law enforcement and other social forces may reduce the desire to commit crime, crime prevention techniques lend themselves well to reducing the opportunity. Criminal opportunity is manifested in crime hazards or crime risks such as dark streets, unprotected buildings, or any other area where crime risks are heightened because of a lack of security planning. Realizing criminals generally take the path of least resistance, it is reasonable to believe that a relationship exists between the number of opportunities at a given location and the number of criminal attacks occurring at that point. With a concerted effort between the citizens of Morrisville and the Morrisville Police Department, the risk or opportunity to commit criminal activity can be significantly reduced. It is paramount however that the citizens participate in this effort in order to achieve success.
The Morrisville Police Department is offering residents the opportunity to have a security evaluation done of your premises that may help reduce and prevent easy opportunities for criminal acts. To have an officer contact you to schedule an appointment, fill out a request. This form also has a short printable evaluation to help you gauge your level of security.
For additional information, please contact the Community Services Officer.
The Morrisville Police warn residents to guard against scam phone calls from thieves intent on stealing their money or identity.
Criminals pose as the IRS to trick victims out of their money or personal information. Information derived from the IRS website.
Here are several tips to help you avoid being a victim of these scams:
Scammers make unsolicited calls.
Thieves call taxpayers claiming to be IRS officials. They demand that the victim pay a bogus tax bill. They con the victim into sending cash, usually through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. Often they will ask you to send a green dot card with the requested amount. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests through phone “robo-calls,” or via phishing email.
Callers try to scare their victims.
Many phone scams use threats to intimidate and bully a victim into paying. They may even threaten to arrest, deport or revoke the license of their victim if they don’t get the money.
Scams use caller ID spoofing.
Scammers often alter caller ID to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. The callers use IRS titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may use the victim’s name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official. We have received numerous reports that the police department's office number is displayed on the scam call.
Cons try new tricks all the time.
Some schemes provide an actual IRS address where they tell the victim to mail a receipt for the payment they make. Others use emails that contain a fake IRS document with a phone number or an email address for a reply. These scams often use official IRS letterhead in emails or regular mail that they send to their victims. They try these ploys to make the ruse look official.
The IRS will not:
- Call you to demand immediate payment. The IRS will not call you if you owe taxes without first sending you a bill in the mail.
- Demand that you pay taxes and not allow you to question or appeal the amount you owe.
- Require that you pay your taxes a certain way. For instance, require that you pay with a prepaid debit card.
- Ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Threaten to bring in police or other agencies to arrest you for not paying. The Morrisville Police Department DOES NOT have the jurisdiction to enforce federal agency actions. We DO NOT deal with the IRS in this manner. We WILL NOT contact you by phone or email and ask or threaten you to send money to anyone.
- Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
If you do not owe any taxes, or do not think you do:
Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page. You can also call 800-366-4484.
Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" in the notes.
Additional information regarding other common scams, including immigration scams, can be found on the USCIS official website.
- Privacy and security settings exist for a reason: Learn about and use the privacy and security settings on social networks. They are there to help you control who sees what you post and manage your online experience in a positive way.
- Once posted, always posted: Protect your reputation on social networks. What you post online stays online. Think twice before posting pictures you wouldn’t want your parents or future employers to see. Recent research found that 70 percent of job recruiters rejected candidates based on information they found online.
- Your online reputation can be a good thing: Recent research also found that recruiters respond to a strong, positive personal brand online. So show your smarts, thoughtfulness and mastery of the environment.
- Keep personal info personal: Be cautious about how much personal information you provide on social networking sites. The more information you post, the easier it may be for a hacker or someone else to use that information to steal your identity, access your data, or commit other crimes such as stalking.
- Protect your hardware: Safety and security start with protecting computers. Install a security suite (antivirus, antispyware and firewall) that is set to update automatically. Keep your operating system, Web browser and other software current as well and back up computer files on a regular basis.
- Know and manage your friends: Social networks can be used for a variety of purposes. Some of the fun is creating a large pool of friends from many aspects of your life. That doesn’t mean all friends are created equal. Use tools to manage the information you share with friends in different groups or even have multiple online pages. If you’re trying to create a public persona as a blogger or expert, create an open profile or a “fan” page that encourages broad participation and limits personal information. Use your personal profile to keep your real friends (the ones you know trust) more synched up with your daily life.
- Be honest if you’re uncomfortable: If a friend posts something about you that makes you uncomfortable or you think is inappropriate, let them know. Likewise, stay open-minded if a friend approaches you because something you’ve posted makes him or her uncomfortable. People have different tolerances for how much the world knows about them, so respect those differences. Post only about others as you would have them post about you.
- Now what action to take: If someone is harassing or threatening you, remove them from your friends list, block them, and report them to the site administrator.
- Use strong passwords: Make sure that your password is long, complex and combines, letters, numerals, and symbols. Ideally, you should use a different password for every online account you have. If you need to write down your password to remember it, store it somewhere away from your computer.
- Be cautious about messages you receive on social networking sites that contain links. Even links that look they come from friends can sometimes contain malware or be part of a phishing attack (attempts to collect personal information: logon and password and other identifying information by pretending to be a message from a friend or business). If you are suspicious, don’t click. Contact your friend or the business directly to verify the validity.
For more information, visit http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/tech/tec14.shtm