Identity theft and retail fraud are major concerns these days and with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing more and more people to shop online thereby putting more and more personal information out there, concerns over these crimes are greater than ever.
Local law enforcement would like everyone to help us as much as you can by being diligent in monitoring your credit. If you discover that you have been the victim of Identity Theft you should contact the police to file a report.
The Federal Trade Commission has set up a site to further assist those who have been victims of Identity Theft at the following location https://www.ftc.gov/faq/consumer-protection/report-identity-theft. This site will give you answers on how to contact the major credit bureaus, and how to file a report with the FTC as well as answer some frequently asked questions.
Other steps to help keep you from being a victim:
1. Don’t let mail sit in your mailbox. We don’t know for sure how all identities are being stolen, but it is believed that the culprits involved may be stealing mail.
2. Don’t put outgoing mail in your mailbox, take it to a U.S. Postal mailbox. The raised flag is a notification to suspects that you might have an outgoing check in the mail that would give them your name and bank account information.
3. Whenever possible, don’t give out your credit card information to anyone unless you know for sure who they are.
4. If you get a call from a family member asking for help, make sure you’re talking to the family member. Criminals have been calling in the middle of the night pretending to be grandchildren in jail asking for bond money.
5. Monitor your credit. There are several low cost or free internet sites that will allow you to do this. It’s also important to know that the three major credit bureaus have to provide you with a free copy of your credit history once a year. Don’t be afraid to ask for it.
6. If you shop online, we would suggest that you use a credit card with a low balance. You can limit your daily spending through your credit card companies or, open a card with only a $500 balance just for online shopping.
7. Pay attention to the sites you’re using your credit card on. On the page you enter your information, make sure that the browser address starts with “https”. This means that the site is secure.
8. When you use your credit card at a store or restaurant make sure you get your card back.