Identity Theft: Tips to Protect Yourself
The Dalton Police Department is committed to fighting against identity theft. A key part of that fight is helping citizens protect their identities so an ID Theft will either not take place or will be caught early. The information below covers different ways you can make yourself a harder target for identity thieves. It comes from the US Federal Trade Commission, which also has valuable resources online at ftc.gov/idtheft.
TIPS TO PROTECT YOUR ID:
- Shred: Shredding financial documents and paperwork with personal info like your social security number can keep that info from being compromised.
- Protect your SSN: Don’t carry your social security card with you in your wallet or write it on documents like checks. Only give it out if it as absolutely necessary.
- Be careful with electronic communications: don’t give out personal info over the phone, mail, or the internet unless you are certain that you know who you are dealing with. Avoid disclosing financial info over unsecured wireless connections.
- Watch out for spam emails: Never click links in unsolicited or “spam” emails. Instead, type in web addresses that you know. Keep your antivirus and antispyware software up to date on computers. Visit onguardonline.gov to learn more about protecting your computer.
- Use Tougher Passwords: Don’t use passwords that are easy to guess, like your birthday or your mother’s maiden name.
- Keep personal info in a secure place: At home, especially if you have roommates, keep your information in a secure place. Also, be aware when you have people doing work in the home, visiting, etc.
TIPS TO DETECT ID THEFT:
- Monitor: Keep an eye on your financial statements and billing statements.
- Be alert: Watch for signs of something out of the ordinary like bills that don’t arrive on time, unexpected credit cards or unexpected account statements, denials of credit for no apparent reason, calls or letters about purchases you didn’t make, charges that you don’t recognize, etc.
- Inspect your credit report: The law requires the major credit monitoring companies to provide you with a free credit report once every 12 months if requested. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228 to request yours.
- Report It: If you see activity that isn’t accurate or that you don’t recognize, report it. Contact the credit reporting company. To find out how to correct credit errors, visit ftc.gov/idtheft.
- Fraud Alerts: If you suspect ID Theft, put a fraud alert on your credit reports. The companies have toll-free numbers to place 90-day fraud alerts on accounts, and a call to just one company is sufficient:
o Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
o TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
o Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
- Contact: Make contact with the security or fraud departments of each company where fraudulent accounts were opened in your name. Follow up in writing with copies of supporting documentation. Use the ID Theft affidavit at ftc.gov/idtheft. Ask for verification in writing that the disputed account has been dealt with and fraudulent charges settled. Keep copies of documents and records of all conversations.
- File a Police Report: File a report with law enforcement officials to help you correct your credit report and deal with creditors who want proof of the crime. You can make reports at the Dalton Police Services Center at 301 Jones Street if you are a Dalton resident. You can also call the dispatch center’s non-emergency number at 706-370-4911 to have an officer dispatched to your location.
- Report the ID Theft to the FTC: Your report to the Federal Trade Commission will help law enforcement nationwide. There are three ways to make a report:
o Online: ftc.gov/idtheft
o By Phone: 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338) or TTY 1-866-653-4261
o By Mail: Identity Theft Clearinghouse
· Washington, DC 20580