Identity thieves and Fraud can do a lot of damage to your financial well being. They can go on spending sprees using your credit card, using your name and Social Security number, they can open new credit card accounts, they could give your name to the police if they get arrested. Fraud can open the door to identity theft by letting identity thieves know they have an easy target, plus giving them access to information that they need to steal your identity. Fraud and Identity theft is occurring in Kiowa County. While most citizens of Kiowa County seem to be fairly aware about fraud issues in Kiowa County and have an idea about what to be careful about, some may not. The Kiowa County Sheriff’s Office has put this information on the web site in order to further educate the community about what to do if they fall victim to identity theft, as well as the different types of identity theft that occur more frequently in Kiowa County.
The Sheriff’s Office also has brochures and information regarding Fraud and Identity Theft available at the office.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of ways identity thieves can steal your identity, from sophisticated computer hacking to low-tech “dumpster diving” into your trash, to old-fashioned stealing your wallet or purse. As the brochures above will tell you, there are ways you can minimize your risk of becoming a victim of identity theft, and things you can do if you’ve already become a victim which will be covered below.
Deter Detect and Defend
While there are no ways to absolutely guarantee you’ll never be a victim of identity theft, there are ways to minimize your risk. By following the “3 D’s” of identity protection, we can all make it more difficult for thieves to walk away with our identities. The “3 D’s” are Deter, Detect, and Defend; below are some specific steps you can take to minimize your risk.
Shred paperwork with personal information and financial documents before you discard them.
Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write your Social Security number on a check. Give it out only if absolutely necessary; you can always ask to use another identifier.
Don’t give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless you are sure who you are dealing with.
Don’t use obvious passwords. Your mother’s maiden name, or the last four digits of your Social Security number – all are obvious passwords, and someone with a little information about you can usually figure these things out.
Keep your personal information in a secure place at home, especially if you have roommates, employ outside help, or are having work done in your house.
Credit reports contain information about you, including what accounts you have and your bill paying history.
There are three major nationwide consumer reporting companies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – the law requires them to give you a free copy of your credit report each year if you ask for it.
www.AnnualCreditReport.com is a service created by these three companies: It is the only authorized site where you can order the free credit report you’re entitled to each year.
When asking for your credit report, you may need to provide certain personal information, including your Social Security number and information about your monthly bills.
Credit Reports – Fraud Alerts
Placing a fraud alert on your credit reports tells creditors to follow certain procedures before they open new accounts in your name or make certain changes to your existing accounts. If you think you might be a victim of fraud, you will want to contact one of the three credit reporting bureaus and place a fraud alert.
The 3 consumer reporting companies have toll-free numbers for placing an initial 90-day fraud alert; a call to one company is sufficient.
It entitles you to free copies of your credit reports. Look for inquiries from companies you haven’t contacted, accounts you didn’t open, and debts on your accounts that you can’t explain.
To close your accounts, call the security or fraud departments of each company where an account was opened or changed without your okay. Follow up in writing, with copies of supporting documents.
Use the ID Theft Affidavit at ftc.gov/idtheft to support your written statement.
Ask for written verification that the disputed account has been closed and the fraudulent debts discharged.
The Federal Trade Commission or FTC is the federal consumer protection agency that helps law enforcement officials in their investigations.
The information that can be found in the downloadable brochures above will have all the contact information for the Federal Trade Commission and other agencies and instructions on what to do if you become a victim.