Identity theft occurs when someone possesses or uses your name, address, Social Security Number (SSN), bank or credit card account number, or other identifying information without your knowledge with the intent to commit fraud or other crimes. If you think you may be a victim of identity theft, the Braintree Police Department seeks to assist you in every way possible. Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the United States. There are several immediate steps you need to take in order to assist investigators and protect yourself from further risk.
How Identity Theft Occurs:
Skilled identity thieves use a variety of ways to gain access to your personal information. For example, they may get information from businesses or other institutions by stealing it while they’re on the job; bribing an employee who has access to confidential records; hacking these records or conning information out of unsuspecting employees. Or:
- •They may steal your wallet or purse.
- •They may steal your information through a variety of “scams”.
- •They may steal your information by “skimming” your credit card information without your knowledge.
- •They may rummage through the trash by a practice known as “dumpster diving”.
- •They may steal personal information from your home.
- •They may steal your mail, including bank and credit card statements, new checks and tax information.
Protecting Your Identity:
- •Monitor the balances of your financial accounts. Look for unexplained charges or withdrawals.
- •Obtain frequent credit reports (free from all three reporting agencies in Massachusetts).
- •Place passwords on credit card, bank and phone accounts.
- •Avoid using easily available information like your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, the last four numbers of your SSN or your phone number or a series of consecutive numbers.
- •Secure personal information in your home especially if you have roommates.
- •Find out how your personal information is handled by workplaces and businesses that collect your personal information.
- •Carry only the identification information and credit and debit cards you actually need when you go out.
- •Shred any information you are discarding which contains personal identifying information.
- •Protect all PIN numbers and change them frequently. Just like passwords on the computer, a PIN is a confidential code issued to you, that lets you have access to your account. Memorize your PIN and never give it out to anyone. Never write your PIN on your debit or credit card or on a piece of paper in your wallet.
- •Use the ATM safely. Be aware of others waiting behind you. Position yourself in front of the keyboard to prevent anyone from seeing your PIN. If something looks out of place, unusual or disturbed on the machine, choose another one in case a skimming device has been covertly placed on a legitimate machine.
If You’re a Victim:
Call the Braintree Police Department at the number below. It is imperative that you call police as soon as the theft is discovered, this will generate a date and time stamped report that may help you dispute any charges made afterward.
- Place an initial fraud alert on your credit reports. You need to contact only one of the three consumer reporting companies. The company you call is required to contact the other two.
P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
P.O. Box 9532, Allen TX 75013
Fraud Victim Assistance Division
P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
- •Close the accounts that you know, or believe, have been tempered with or opened fraudulently.
- •When you open new accounts, use new PIN’s and passwords.
- •Ask each company for the appropriate forms to dispute fraudulent charges and/or debits.
- •File a report with your local police department (see below for specific BC contact information).
- •File a report with the Federal Trade Commission, http://consumer.gov/ncpw/category/identity-theft-privacy/ or 1-877-ID-THEFT.
- •Keep detailed records of all correspondence and conversations with creditors, the FTC and local police departments.
If you think you may be a victim of identity theft, call the Braintree Police Department at 781-843-1212.