M E D I A R E L E A S E
Chief of Police
Release: IMMEDIATE Contact: Gavin MacRoberts, Public Information Officer
Date: 4/7/2011 Phone: (910) 433-1896, (910) 322-4341
Identity Theft Prevention Tips
Identity theft is a serious crime. Personal information can be stolen and used to commit fraud and other crimes. If you are a victim of identity theft, it can cost you time and money, and ruin your credit.
Identity theft comes in different forms to include:
- Dumpster Diving- Thieves rummage through trash looking for documents with confidential information.
- Skimming- Thieves steal credit/debit card numbers using special storage devices.
- Phishing- Thieves pretend to be a reputable organization and send spam or pop-up messages with the intent of tricking a victim in revealing personal information.
- Changing your address- A thief will divert billing statements to another completing a "change of address" form.
- Stealing- Thieves will steal wallets, purses, mail, checks, or any item that would include personal information.
While thieves may have several ways of stealing your identity, the Federal Trade Commission has several steps you can take to reduce your chances of becoming a victim.
- Shred financial documents and paperwork with personal information.
- Protect your Social Security Number, don't carry it on you and don't write down on checks. Only give it when necessary and ask to use another means of identification.
- Don't give out personal information on the phone, mail, or the internet unless you know who you are dealing with.
- Safeguard you ID's.
- Never lend out your credit cards or account information.
- Never click on links in unsolicited emails; instead, type in a web address you know. Use security software and keep it up to date. Visit OnGuardOnline.gov for more information.
- Don't use obvious passwords like your birth date, your mother's maiden name, or the last four digits of your Social Security number.
- Keep your personal information in a secure location, especially when living with someone else; like living in a dorm room, barracks, or when sharing an apartment with a roommate.
- Don't let mail pile up. If you can't collect it; contact your local post office about mail stop or a P.O box, or have a trusted friend or family member collect it for you.
Federal law requires each of the three major nationwide consumer reporting companies to provide, when requested, a free credit report once a year. The companies are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can go to http://www.annualcreditreport.com/ or call (877) 322-8228 to order your free credit report. Regularly review you financial accounts, statements and credit report for signs of fraud.
Things to look out for:
- Bills that do not arrive as expected
- Unexpected credit cards or account statements
- Denials of credit for no apparent reason
- Calls or letters about purchases you did not remember making
If you believe that you are victim of identity theft, contact your local law enforcement agency and file a police report. Be sure to keep a copy of the police report to show creditors. You can call the Fayetteville Police Department Detective division at (910) 433-1856 to file a report.
You can also visit the Federal Trade Commission's website, ftc.gov/idtheft for more information and advice on how to defend yourself from identity theft.