Identity Theft and Fraud
Identity theft has become a wide scale problem across the United States
recently. Identity theft is the number one online crime committed. It is
rather easy to lose control of your personal information over the internet
if you are not cautious.
Thieves are setting up websites and sending out emails from legitimate websites in an attempt to phish personal information from would-be victims. Once they obtain your personal information, your credit will plummet virtually over night. Criminals will exploit their victims by opening up credit accounts and making large purchases which never receive payment. Most times, these crimes have occurred over the internet and tracking those criminals down is a fulltime tedious task, which quite often proves futile.
Most common schemes occurring now are spoof emails being sent to both eBay and PayPal customers. These emails inform the eBay or PayPal member that their account is either suspended or requires verification. Would-be victims will then click the link attached to the email and enter an unknown website location which appears to be identical to that of eBay or PayPal. The site will sometimes ask one to log in or ask you to verify your user account information along with other personal information which is not even requested by eBay and/or PayPal when setting up a new account. Any emails which appear to be suspicious and purport to be from eBay or PayPal should be forwarded to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
And do not think that because we are a small city, we have nothing to worry about. Our department, not long ago, conducted an investigation into a case that originated in France and stemmed all the way to Nigeria. The victim in that case was a local Sinton resident.
You can read the Texas law on identity theft by clicking the following link:
Texas Identity Theft Statute
What to do if you have been the victim of credit card fraud or identity theft
If your complaint is essentially a non-criminal dispute with a retailer or other business, you must immediately dispute the charge(s) in writing with the customer relations office of your credit card company.
If you have been the victim of credit card fraud or identity theft, the following tips will assist you:
- Report the crime to the police immediately. Get a copy of your police report or case number. Credit card companies, your bank, and the insurance company may ask you to reference the report to verify the crime.
- Immediately contact your credit card issuers. Get replacement cards with new account numbers and ask that the old account be processed as "account closed at consumer's request" for credit record purposes. You should also follow up this telephone conversation with a letter to the credit card company that summarizes your request in writing.
Call the fraud units of the three credit reporting bureaus. Report the theft of your credit cards and/or numbers. Ask that your accounts be flagged. Also, add a victim's statement to your report that requests that they contact you to verify future credit applications. The following is a list of addresses and numbers to the three credit bureaus:
Equifax Credit Information Services
Consumer Fraud Division
P.O. Box 105496
Atlanta, Georgia 30348-5496
Tel: (800) 997-2493
P.O. Box 2104
Allen, Texas 75013-2104
Tel: (888) EXPERIAN (397-3742)
Trans Union Fraud Victim
P.O. Box 390
Springfield, PA 19064-0390
Tel: (800) 680-7289
- Keep a log of all conversations with authorities and financial entities.
- As with any personal information, only provide your credit card number to merchants you know. Also, remember to protect your social security number. You have to give your social security number for employment and tax purposes, but it is not necessary for many businesses. Notify the Social Security Administration.s Office of Inspector General if your social security number has been used fraudulently.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the federal clearinghouse for complaints by victims of identity theft. Although the FTC does not have the authority to bring criminal cases, the Commission assists victims of identity theft by providing them with information to help them resolve the financial and other problems that can result from identity theft. The FTC also may refer victim complaints to other appropriate government agencies and private organizations for further action. If you have been a victim of identity theft, you can file a complaint with the FTC by contacting the FTC's Consumer Response Center.
Security Freeze Law
Texas has also enacted a law which can be reviewed under Chapter 20 of the Texas Business and Commerce Code. This law is know as the Regulation of Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act This law entitles victims of identity theft to put a freeze on their credit so as to restrict credit agencies from releasing credit information until one chooses. If one chooses to enact this security freeze on one's credit, would-be criminals will no longer be able to obtain credit in the victim's name. You can read more about this law by downloading the document below.
The Sinton Police Department is required by law to take an
identity theft report from victims residing in the City Limits of Sinton.
This means, no matter where your identity is being used or where it may have been
stolen, the Sinton Police Department will make the initial report, as long as you
reside within the City Limits, and forward it to the appropriate agency which has
If you have found yourself a victim of identity theft, please review the following documents which consist of an ID Theft Affidavit, ID Theft Report Packet, and an ID Theft informative guide. The affidavit, or sworn statement, is what you will show current, former, and potential creditors after discovering that you have become a victim of Identity Theft. This affidavit is a form that may be required by your creditors. Your creditors should work with you in getting your credit issues straightened out. The ID Theft Report is a document provided by the US Secret Service and is required on all ID theft cases reported to the Sinton Police. We request that a copy of the ID Theft Report be completed and turned in at the time of your report to the Sinton Police Department. And finally, the last document is the ID Theft Informative Guide. This guide will go into more detail on how to resolve the damage created when one becomes a victim of identity theft.
Should you have any questions or further concerns, please contact one of the Detectives.
Government Web Resources
- www.consumer.gov/idtheft *NEW
- File ID Theft Report Online with the Federal Trade Commission *NEW
- IRS Income Tax Return Fraud *NEW
Other Resourceful Websites
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