Identity theft is the act of stealing your good name to commit fraud. Identity Thieves Can Ruin Your Good Name.
Your Identity Is a Gold Mine!
Psst...Want to know a secret? A lost or stolen wallet or purse is a gold mine of information for a new kind of crook-the identity thief.
Identity thieves can use information found in your wallet or purse-from credit cards, checks, your Social Security card, even health insurance cards- to establish new accounts in your name. That could create an identity crisis that can take months to detect and even longer to unravel.
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports identity theft accounted for 42 percent of the consumer complaints they received in 2001.
- Identity theft is both time consuming and expensive to victims. The average victim spent 175 hours and an average of $800 trying to clear his or her name.
The top 10 categories of consumer fraud complaints in 2002 include:
- Internet Auctions - 13%
- Internet Services and Computer Complaints - 6%
- Advance Fee Loans and Credit Protection - 5%
- Shop-at-Home/Catalog Sales - 5%
- Foreign Money Offers - 4%
- Prizes/Sweepstakes and Lotteries - 4%
- Business Opportunity and Work-at-Home Plans -3%
- Telephone Services - 2%
- Health Care - 2%
- Magazines and Buyers Clubs - 2%
Utah State Criminal Code Annotated 76-6-1102 is outlined as follows:
- (1) For purposes of this part, "personal identity" information may include:
- (a) name
- (b) address
- (c) telephone number
- (d) drivers license number
- (e) Social Security number
- (f) place of employment
- (g) employee identification numbers or other personal identification numbers
- (h) mother's maiden name
- (i) electronic identification numbers
- (j) digital signatures or a private key or
- (k) any other numbers or information that can be used to access a person's financial resources or medical information in the name of another person without the consent of that person except for numbers or information that can be prosecuted as financial transaction card offenses under Sections 76-6-506 through 76-6-506
- (2) A person is guilty of identify fraud when that person knowingly or intentionally:
- (a) obtains personal identifying information of another person without the authorization of that person; and
- (b) uses, or attempts to use, that information with fraudulent intent, including to obtain, or attempt to obtain, credit, goods, services, any other thing of value, or medical information in the name of another person without the consent of that person.
Sharing Your Personal Information
In the course of a busy day, you may write a check at the grocery store, charge tickets to a ball game, rent a car, mail your tax returns, call home on your cell phone, order new checks, or apply for a credit card. Everyday transactions that you may never give a second thought to are an identity thief's bread and butter.
Each of these transactions requires the sharing of personal information: your bank and credit card account numbers; your income, Social Security number and name, address and phone numbers, to name a few.
Here Are Some Ways That Identity Thieves Work
By co-opting your name, Social Security number, credit card number, or some other piece of your personal information for their own use. In short, identity theft occurs when someone appropriates your personal information without your knowledge to commit fraud or theft.
They open a new credit card account, using your name, date of birth, and Social Security number. When they use the credit card and don't pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report.
They call your credit card issuer, pretending to be you, and change the mailing address on your credit card account. Then, your imposter runs up charges on your account. Because your bills are being sent to the new address, you may not immediately realize there is a problem.
They establish cellular phone service in your name.
They open a bank account in your name and write bad checks.
While you can't prevent identity theft, you can minimize your risk by managing your personal information wisely.
- The next time you order checks have only your initials (instead of first name) and last name put on them. If someone takes your check book they will not know if you sign your checks with just your initials or your first name but your bank will know how you sign your checks.
- Put your work phone number on your check instead of your home phone.
- If you have a PO Box use that instead of your home address.
- If you do not have a PO Box use your work address.
- Do not have your checks sent to your home unless your there to receive them.
- Never have your social security number, Drivers Licence number or Date of Birth printed on your checks – you can add it if necessary.
- Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine. Copy both sides of each license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel. Keep the photocopy in a safe place.
- When traveling, take a photocopy of your passport with you.
- Before revealing personal identifying information, find out how it will be used and if it will be shared with others. Ask if you have a choice about the use of your information: can you choose to have it kept confidential?
- Pay attention to your billing cycles. Follow up with creditors if bills do not arrive on time.
- Give your Social Security number only when absolutely necessary. Ask to use other types of identifiers when possible.
- Minimize the identification information and the number of cards you carry to what you actually need.
- If your identification or credit cards are lost or stolen, notify the creditors by phone immediately, and call the credit bureaus to ask that a "fraud alert" be placed in your file.
- Order a copy of your credit report from the three credit reporting agencies every year. Make sure it's accurate and includes only those activities you've authorized.
- Keep items with personal information in a safe place; tear them up when you don't need them anymore. Make sure charge receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, bank checks and statements, expired charge cards, and credit offers you get in the mail are disposed of appropriately. (Shred or burn).
- To thwart identity thieves who may pick through your trash to capture personal information, tear or shred charge receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, bank checks and statements, expired credit cards and credit offers received in the mail.
If You're a Victim of Identity Fraud
- Contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) and report that your identity has been stolen. Ask that a "fraud alert" be placed on your file and that no new credit be granted without your approval.
- For any accounts that have been fraudulently accessed or opened, contact the security departments of the appropriate creditors or financial institutions. Close these accounts. Put passwords (not your mother's maiden name) on any new accounts you open.
- File a report with your local police or the police where the identity theft took place. Get a copy of the report in case the bank, credit card company, or others need proof of the crime later on.
Federal and Credit Bureau Resources
Federal Trade Commission
1-877-438-4338 or 1-202-326- 2502 TDD
1-800-525-6285 or 1-800-255-0056 TDD
1-888-397-3742 or 1-800-972-0322 TDD
1-800-680-7289 or 1-877-553-7803 TDD
Local and State Resources
Spanish Fork Police
789 West Center, Spanish Fork Utah 84660
Utah County Attorney
100 East Center, Provo Utah 84606