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Identity Theft Awareness

Identity Theft Protection

Identity Theft involves acquiring key pieces of someone’s identifying information, such as name, address, date of birth, social security number, or mother’s maiden name, in order to impersonate them. This information enables the identity thief to commit numerous forms of fraud which include, but are not limited to, taking over the victim's financial accounts, opening new bank accounts, purchasing automobiles, applying for loans, credit cards and social security benefits, renting apartments, and establishing services with utility and phone companies

Some Ways That Identity Theft Occurs

  • If you throw away your personal information into a trash can, it can be retrieved by thieves
  • Theft of mail, such as your credit card or bank information
  • Stolen information as a result of a burglary
  • Theft of purse or wallet containing ID, credit and bank cards
  • Giving your personal information to telephone or internet scams

Internet Privacy Issues

Never give out personal information over the phone or via the internet (social security number, bank account number, date of birth, credit card numbers, etc.) unless you have initiated the call or the institution that you are dealing with has provided a means to authenticate the transaction.

Beware of scams that offer you money, scholarships, tuition payments, etc. where you are asked to pay up front or pay an “administrative fee” or something similar. Use caution when you are asked to send payment via untraceable currency, such as PayPal cards. If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is.

What to do if You Are a Victim

  • Contact all creditors by phone and in writing to inform them of the problem.
  • Set up a folder to keep a detailed history of the crime.
  • Keep a log of all your contacts and make copies of all documents.
  • Notify the US Postal Inspector if your mail has been stolen or tampered with.
  • Contact the Federal Trade Commission to report the problem.
  • Call the three credit bureaus’ fraud units to report identity theft.
  • Ask to have a “Fraud Alert/Victim Impact” statement placed in your credit file asking that creditors call you before opening any new accounts.
  • Request a copy of your credit report be sent to you.
  • Alert your banks to flag your accounts and contact you to confirm any unusual activity.
  • Request a change of PIN and a new password.
  • Obtain a description of the suspect, if known.
  • Obtain witness information.
  • Determine the financial loss to you. Attach all supporting documentation.
  • Contact the Social Security Fraud Hotline at (800) 269-0271, and Earnings/Benefits Statement at (800) 772-1213.
  • Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles at (866) 658-5758 to see if another license was issued in your name. If so, request a new license number and fill out the DMV’s complaint form to begin the fraud investigation process.
  • Contact the Identity Theft Council to help you fix Identity Theft problems. It’s a free service endorsed by Bay Area law enforcement to help victims of Identity Theft: (888) 771-0767.

If you have checks stolen or bank accounts set up fraudulently, report it to the following:

  • National Check Fraud: (843) 571-2143
  • SCAN: (800) 262-7771
  • TeleCheck: (800) 710-9898
  • Chexsystem: (800) 428-9623
  • CrossCheck: (707) 665-2100

Filing a Police Report

Report the incident to the police. The officer will provide you with a report number. Keep that number with your records and provide that number to your bank, other law enforcement agencies that you might have to contact, and your credit card or utility companies. If the crime occurred at Sonoma State University and there are workable leads, your case will be assigned for follow up by the officer or an investigator. If there are no workable leads which may lead to the identification of a suspect, as many of these cases are out of state or international, an investigator may not be assigned but resources will be provided.

Informational Websites