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Identity Theft & Protecting Your Identity
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What is Identity Theft?

According to the Federal Trade Commission, "identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information and uses it without your permission. It’s a serious crime that can wreak havoc with your finances, credit history, and reputation — and can take time, money, and patience to resolve."

 

Scam & Fraud Alerts

For information on all the latest Fraud Alerts, check the Federal Trade Commission’s website for alerts here: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/scam-alerts

 

Protecting Your Identity

There are several simple steps that you can take to better protect your personal information from theft and misuse.  These include, but are not limited to:

 

Keep your personal information secure offline 

Keep personal records (birth certificate, passport, tax returns, etc.) in a safe and secure place at home or in a safe deposit box.  Lock your purse or wallet in a safe, secure place when you are at school or work.  Don't leave them in a visible location in your vehicle - consider locking them in the trunk if you plan to leave them in the vehicle.  Shred receipts, credit applications, expired credit cards, tax returns, and similar documents when you no longer need them.

 

Keep your personal information secure online

Know who you share information with.  Store and dispose of your personal information securely.  Be alert to imposters, phishing attempts, and other social engineering efforts to obtain your personal information.  Don't give out personal information over the phone, through the mail, or over the internet unless you have initiated the contact.  Don't follow email links - instead, type the company name into your web browser, go to their site, and contact them through their customer service.  Or, call the customer service number listed on your account statement.  If contacting the company about a request for information you received, verify that they company really sent the request.  Report all phishing attempts to the company being misrepresented.  Be careful when using public computers - avoid making financial transactions or purchases from public computers or someone else's mobile devices.

 

Keep your personal devices secure

Password protect your device!  Lock the device when not in use.  Encrypt your data on your personal computer and mobile devices.  If your mobile device has an app available for tracking lost devices (such as Apple's "Find My iPhone" app), configure and use it.  Before you dispose of a personal computer or laptop, wipe the hard drive using a wipe utility to overwrite the entire hard drive.  Before you dispose of a mobile device remove the memory card and SIM card, erase all contacts, voicemails, messages, organizer folders, web history, photos, and calls, and if possible reset the device to factory defaults.  Remember that just resetting to factory defaults does not remove all information from most devices - you will still need to take steps to remove all personal data.

 

Keep passwords private

Use strong passwords with your computers, bank accounts, and online accounts - especially the online accounts where you might have credit card information stored.  Be careful about storing credit card informatin online - use only trusted sites and change your passwords regularly.  Be creative with passwords - use a mixture of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols.  Substitute numbers and symbols for some words or letters. 

 

Don't overshare personal information on social networks

Posting too much information about yourself online can make it much easier for an identity thief to find information about your life and use it to answer "challenge" question on your accounts, and gain access to your money and personal information.  Consider limiting access to your networking pages to a small group of people.  Never post your full name, social security number, address, phone number, or account numbers in publicly accessible sites.

 

Identity Theft Resources

Understanding what identity theft is and how to prevent it is something we strongly recommend.  Here are some identity theft informational resources that may help you better protect your identity:

         Identity Theft: Consumer Information from the Federal Trade Commission

         Identity Theft Protection Services - Reviews.com (The Whitehall Police Department does not endorse any services.  This link is provided as an informational resource only.)

         Identity Theft Resource Center

 

 

I think I’m the victim of Identity Theft… What do I do?

 

If you are a victim of identity theft, you should immediately call the three national credit reporting organizations to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security number, and contact your local police department to file a report regarding the matter, The responding Officer will gather your information, file a report, and investigate the matter. You will be issued a Case Number, keep this number and refer to it when discussing your report.

 

Identity theft will involve you setting up new credit lines and accounts. The fraud alert will let any company that checks your credit know that your information has been stolen and that they should contact you by telephone to authorize any new credit lines in your name.

 

         Equifax 1-800-525-6285 www.equifax.com

         Experian 1-800-397-3742 www.experian.com

         Trans Union 1-800-680-7289 www.tuc.com

         Social Security Administration Fraud Line 1-800-269-0271 www.ssa.gov

 

Also, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Hotline. The FTC can help victims of identity theft by providing information to assist them in resolving financial and other problems that can result because of this crime.

 

FTC Identity Theft Hotline 1-877-438-4338 www.comsumer.gov/idtheft

Supporting information has been gathered from multiple sources, information posted for informational use only.

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Whitehall Police Department
57 Skenesborough Drive, Whitehall, NY 12887
Non-Emergency Phone (518)499-1316
Fax (518)499-3570
Emergency -  Dial 911
 
 
 

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