ID Theft or Fraud
What it is and what can you do about it!
Identity theft involves a category of crimes; including burglary, auto prowl, theft, mail theft, check fraud, forgery and criminal impersonation. Victims can be devastated by the effects this crime has on their financial well-being. One act can lead to an almost endless series of crimes. Most losses are not monetary, so damage can be difficult to quantify. Find Help Here: Equifax - 1 (800) 525-6285, Experian - 1 (888) 397-3742, Trans Union - 1 (800) 680-7289, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) - 1 (877) 382-4357. To opt out of credit card offers: 1 (888) 5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688)
Unfortunately, Identity Theft is a problem for everyone living, working, doing business or banking in Cowlitz County. There are things you can do and steps you can take to protect yourself. If you have already been victimized there are resources available to help you. Join us in our efforts to Impact Identity Theft. Here's a quick list of ways to avoid being sucked into a credit card scam:
- DON'T give out your debit or credit card number over the phone unless you called the company yourself (ex: making a purchase) and you can verify validity
- If someone calls and wants information about your credit card, hang up and call that company directly to verify before giving out ANY personal information
- If you don't do business with the company that's calling, DON'T give them any information--not even your name or address.
- Your best bet is to avoid giving out your credit card number at all unless you initiate the transaction. Transactions made in person, at reputable businesses, are always safer than ordering online or over the phone. Avoid writing any important information on billing statements that travel through the US Mail.
Shred it Don't Spread It!
Take care when discarding papers or mail that contains personal information. Any document that has your name, address, social security number or account number can be used by an identity thief. Don't throw bank or credit card statements in the trash or recycle bin – shred them. Our motto "Shred it – Don't Spread It" applies to your identity.
Monitor your Transactions!
- Track credit card or debit purchases and check your bank statements monthly.
- Report any charges or suspicious transactions immediately to your bank and law enforcement.
- Take care when writing checks and giving them to strangers. Do business in cash at flea markets, garage sales or in personal sales transactions.
- Be sure store clerks verify your ID – write "check ID" on the back of credit or debit cards, and insist that they verify.
Lock Your Vehicle and Leave Valuables Out of Sight
- Don't leave checkbooks, wallets, purses, cell phones or valuables in plain view or under a seat. Secure them in the trunk or take them with you.
- If you leave your car, LOCK IT! Many vehicle prowls are unforced. Many of those involve the theft of access devices left inside.