GRIFFIN POLICE DEPARTMENT C. Bryan Clanton Identity Fraud
"But he that filches from me my good name, robs me of that which not enriches him, and makes me poor indeed." - Shakespeare, Othello , act iii. Sc. 3. Identity Fraud
What Are Identity Theft and Identity Fraud? Identity theft is a crime! Identity theft and identity fraud are terms used to refer to all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person's personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain.
Unlike your fingerprints, which are unique to you and cannot be given to someone else for their use, your personal data especially your Social Security number, your bank account or credit card number, your telephone calling card number, and other valuable identifying data can be used, if they fall into the wrong hands, to personally profit at your expense.
In one notorious case of identity theft, the criminal, a convicted felon, not only incurred more than $100,000 of credit card debt, obtained a federal home loan, and bought homes, motorcycles, and handguns in the victim's name, but called his victim to taunt him -- saying that he could continue to pose as the victim for as long as he wanted because identity theft was not a federal crime at that time -- before filing for bankruptcy, also in the victim's name. While the victim and his wife spent more than four years and more than $15,000 of their own money to restore their credit and reputation, the criminal served a brief sentence for making a false statement to procure a firearm, but made no restitution to his victim for any of the harm he had caused. This case, and others like it, prompted Congress in 1998 to create a new federal offense of identity theft .
What Are The Most Common Ways To Commit Identity Theft Or Fraud? <ul><li>Criminals may engage in "shoulder surfing" </li></ul><ul><li>Some criminals engage in "dumpster diving“ </li></ul><ul><li>Criminals may retrieve applications for "preapproved" credit cards in the mail and activate the cards for their use without your knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>The Internet </li></ul>
To reduce or minimize the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft or fraud, there are some basic steps you can take. For starters, just remember the word " SCAM ": S Be stingy about giving out your personal information C Check your financial information regularly and look for what should be there and what shouldn't A Ask periodically for a copy of your credit report. M Maintain careful records of your banking and financial accounts
<ul><li>Generally speaking, federal law says you—the victim of credit or banking fraud—are liable for only the first $50 of your losses if you notify financial institutions within two days of learning of the loss and many financial institutions will waive </li></ul><ul><li>even that amount. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Remember, if you're a victim of identity fraud or if you have been denied credit, insurance, or employment because of something on your credit report, you're entitled to a free credit report. It's the law. (You're also entitled to a free credit report if you're unemployed or receiving welfare.) </li></ul>
<ul><li>Don't pay any bills that are not yours even if you think it's going to make your life easier. When you acquiesce, it's as if you're admitting that the bill is yours—Don't do it! </li></ul>
<ul><li>Even though your Social Security number may have been used by the identity thief, don't change it! That will only make you look more suspicious to future creditors. Your new number will be attached to your credit report along with the old numbers and that may cause delays in obtaining new credit. </li></ul>
<ul><li>If your driver's license number is being used by an impersonator, you should get a new license and cancel the old one. Don't cancel your driver's license number until the Georgia Driver’s Services verifies that a new card with your name and number was issued to an impostor at a different address. </li></ul>
<ul><li>If collection companies continue to harass you after you have written letters explaining the circumstances of the fraud, inform them that they're violating the law and keep documentation so you may take legal action if they persist. The fact that you know your rights and will stick up for them will often be enough to make them back away. </li></ul>
<ul><li>What you find out may make you upset, angry, and frightened. Such feelings are normal. You will be able to resolve the problems if you prioritize and get organized. You will get your life and identity back . </li></ul>
If you suspect that you are a victim…. <ul><li>Contact your local law enforcement agency having jurisdiction in your area. </li></ul><ul><li>Understand that these are complicated crimes which will take time, probably a long time, to investigate. </li></ul>
Also, you must know… <ul><li>The internet and technology makes it easier for criminals of this nature to escape capture. </li></ul><ul><li>They may even be operating in countries which do not cooperate with American investigations. </li></ul><ul><li>They may even use proxy internet servers, black market internet accounts, or piggyback off of the IP address of a law abiding person. </li></ul>
HOWEVER… <ul><li>Do not let the lack of capture dissuade you from reporting it. Reporting that you are the victim is the first step towards repairing the damage done to your name and credit record! </li></ul><ul><li>For reporting these crimes, please contact the Griffin Police Department by calling: </li></ul><ul><li>770-229-9911 </li></ul>