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Crime Prevention and Safety

Identity Theft

Identity Theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in our county and in the nation. It occurs when someone uses your personal identifying information, such as your name, Social Security number or credit card number without your permission to commit theft, fraud or other crimes. While there are no guarantees about avoiding identity theft, there are steps you can take to minimize your risk and minimize the damage if the problem occurs.

If you think your identity has been stolen, here’s what to do:

  1. Contact the fraud departments of any one of the three consumer reporting companies to place a fraud alert on your credit report. The fraud alert tells creditors to contact you before opening any new accounts or making any changes to your existing accounts. You only need to contact one of the three companies to place an alert. The company you call is required to contact the other two, which will place an alert on their versions of your report. Once you place the fraud alert in your file, you're entitled to order free copies of your credit reports, and, if you ask, only the last four digits of your Social Security number will appear on your credit reports.
  2. Close the accounts that you know or believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. Use the ID Theft Affidavit when disputing new unauthorized accounts.
  3. File a report with your local Sheriff or police in the community where you live. Get a copy of the report or at the very least, the case number, to submit to your creditors and others that may require proof of the crime. You, as a victim of identity theft, are entitled to a free copy of your crime report.

For more in-depth information on recovering from identity theft and help with specific problems, read Take Charge: Fighting Back Against Identity Theft.