Identity theft is a crime that has grown quickly since the 1990’s and is currently America's fastest growing crime. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that identity theft strikes nearly 9 million Americans a year.
Identity thieves can gain your information in a number of ways. Many will steal a purse or wallet, others go through your trash and steal your mail looking for checks, credit card receipts and bank statements, and still others use the internet to gain personal information. They use phone schemes to try and obtain any personal information that can be used to steal your identity. A thief will use some piece of your personal information without your knowledge to commit fraud or theft.
Common schemes that involves the Internet or telephone are called Phishing (pronounced “fishing”). Phishing usually starts by email or telephone contact. The person will warn you of a problem that needs your attention. Some of the phrases used may be “Immediate attention required,” or “Please contact us immediately about your account.” The person will claim to be from a reputable, recognizable organization. If this is by email, they may want you to click on a button to go to the institutions web site. The Web site or representative on the phone is probably not genuine. In either case, you may be asked to update your account information or to provide information for verification purposes; SS number, your account number, your password, or the information you use to verify your identity when speaking to a real financial institution, like your mother’s maiden name.
For more information visit the Attorney Generals Office:
Colorado Attorney General
Here are some tips that can help minimize your risk:
- Never provide your personal information in response to an unsolicited request whether over the phone or over the Internet. Remember, if they contact you, give NO information. If they are contacting you they should already have that information!
- If you are going to discard any statements or out of date documents, shred them with a diamond cut shredder.
- Guard your mail and trash from theft. Remove mail from your mailbox promptly after delivery and deposit outgoing mail in a post office collection box close to collection time or at the post office.
- Don’t give out any personal information through the mail, over the phone or internet unless you initiated the contact or are sure you know who you are dealing with.
- Keep your purse or wallet in a safe place while at work or play and never leave them in your vehicle unattended.
- Check your credit reports at least once a year. This is a free service provided by the credit bureaus. Click this link to the site.
- Before giving out personal information, ask the requestor why they need it. If they cannot answer why then they might not truly need it.
How can I tell if I’ve become a victim?
- Pay attention to your billing cycles. A missing credit card bill could mean an identity thief has taken over your account.
- Items appear on your credit card or bank statement that you did not purchase.
- Your bank contacts you to inform you of a possible fraud.
- Check your credit reports frequently for discrepancies.
What should I do if I become a victim of identity theft?
Notify your bank and Credit Card Companies immediately.
File a report with your local police department. The Loveland Police Department non emergency line is 970-667-2151.
Contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert.
File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at: www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov