IENTITY THEFT HAS EXPLODED in frequency recently. In 2013, the FPD investigated 62 cases of identity theft, and that doesn’t include the vast numbers of other types of frauds that might have originated from an identity theft.
An identity theft occurs when someone assumes your identity from numerous different sources and commits some type of fraud or other crime. These types of crimes are very difficult to investigate and prosecute. Several jurisdictions may be involved in an identity theft case involving the same victim and may even occur in several different states. Understandably, the FPD cannot send a detective to California as part of an identity theft investigation that originated with a Ferndale resident. In most cases, your bank or credit card company is eager to write off their loss as a cost of doing business and is happy to reimburse you, as a customer in good standing, for any loss you may suffer. The FPD will generally only complete a report for identity theft from residents of the city of Ferndale. In very few cases, generally those involving large fraudulent purchases at a Ferndale business or the use of violence, will the FPD investigate cases involving identity thefts that originated in other jurisdictions.
The sources of information that permits an identity thief to uncover the vital data needed to assume your identity are so numerous and varied that it is almost impossible to prevent. Criminals may get this information about you by stealing your wallet or purse, breaking into your vehicle, going through your trash, or by accessing your credit or bank accounts. They may approach you in person, by telephone, or on the Internet and talk you out of certain vital pieces of your personal information.
There are ways you can reduce the likelihood that you might become a victim of identity theft but there is no way to prevent it. Your vital data is stored in databases that are too numerous to begin to keep track of. Never throw away any correspondence with names, account numbers, dates of birth, or social security numbers in any form that may be usable. When in doubt, shred it!
Never give out credit card information to anyone unless you are conducting business with a reputable entity and you called them. Continually monitor your bank accounts and immediately notify your bank of any discrepancies. Keep a list of your credit cards and their corresponding phone numbers to call if they are lost or stolen. Report any unauthorized transactions to your bank, credit card company, and the police agency where you reside as soon as you notice them. Review all of your bank and credit transactions monthly. Inspect your credit report yearly and contest any items you find that are in question. Request that the Michigan Secretary of State put a flag on your driver’s license if your identity is stolen to limit the possibility that your information is used in an arrest or traffic citation situation.
Here are some tips to take if your identity is stolen: Initiate an Initial Fraud Alert with one of the three national credit monitoring agencies. Submit a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov that will result in you completing and printing an Identity Theft Affidavit and then take this to the police in the jurisdiction where you reside and request that an identity theft report be completed. Order and meticulously inspect your credit report. Once you make notification of an Initial Fraud Alert you are entitled to one free credit report from each of the three national credit monitoring agencies.
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