Identity Theft Prevention Tips

     Identity theft is a growing type of fraud worldwide.  With the boom in Internet communications and commerce more and more information is submitted electronically, which makes identity theft a growing problem.  Identity theft involves stealing someone's personal identifying information such as your name, address, date of birth, social security number, credit card numbers and drivers license number.  Criminals who steal this personal information will use it to fraudulently obtain credit, money, goods, services and other property, including insurance policies.

     Below is a list of ways that will help you from becoming a victim of identity theft:

-  Shred or tear up any personal financial documents before throwing them in the trash.  (this is the most common way criminals gather your information)
-  Do not print personal identifiers such as your social security number, date of birth or drivers license number on your check.
-  Use your social security number only when necessary.
-  Before revealing any information, on-line or in person, ask how it will be used.
-  Do not answer personal, financial or identifying questions to an unknown telephone caller.
-  Pay attention to billing cycles.  ID thieves may reroute bills to another address to hide their illegal activities.
-  Carefully review your monthly credit card statements, checking for any unauthorized use.
-  Get a copy of your credit report at least once a year to check for errors.
-  Eliminate the number of cards you carry, especially your social security card and passport.

     The Federal Trade Commission has extensive information on what to do if you are the victim of identity theft.  FTC web site ishttp://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/idtheft.htm

     Contact the Crawford County Sheriff's Office or your local police department if you are or you think you are a victim of identity theft.

Sheriff William Rutan