Identity theft involves acquiring key pieces of someone’s personal information, such as: name, date of birth or social security number, in order to impersonate them.This information quite often enables them to commit numerous forms of fraud which include, opening a new bank account, establishing credit in someone’s name, purchasing goods or buying a new vehicle.
PC 530.5: Unauthorized use of personal identifying information.
(A) Every person who willfully obtains personal identifying information of another person and uses that information for any unlawful purpose, including obtaining, credit, goods, services, or medical information in the name of another person without the consent of that person, is guilty of a public offense.
What To Do If You Become A Victim of Identity Theft
File a police report with your local law enforcement agency. Police Departments in Californiaare required to take a crime report for any person
residing in their jurisdiction, even if the crime occurred in another city (California Penal Code 530.6).
Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and file a fraud affidavit. The FTC is a Clearinghouse for victims of identity theft. The FTC also handles complaints for the social security administration regarding social security number violations. It is not recommended that you change your social security number. Changing the number will not eliminate any negative credit history and could effect the positive record you have established.
Contact your bank or creditor and close the impacted accounts. Establish new accounts that are password-protected. The fraud may continue if the account is not closed (Use the FTC fraud affidavit).
Contact all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Trans Union, Experian) and place a fraud alert on your account. A 90 day fraud alert can be made without a police report. A seven year fraud alert requires a police report to be included with your claim. The claim must also be in writing to the credit bureaus.
Request a copy of your credit report from all three credit bureaus. The fraud alert will entitle you to a free copy of your credit report.
Synthetic Identity Fraud: A New Type of Identity Theft
The newest trend for fraudsters is a technique known as synthetic identity fraud.Just when law enforcement officials and financial institutions developed aggressive safeguards, savvy criminals also hit the drawing board.Synthetic identity fraud is when criminals create an identity using several pieces of information belonging to numerous individuals (Social security number, names).They then use this variety of information to obtain credit cards and consumer loans from financial institutions.
This type of fraud may not immediately affect the consumer as would traditional identity theft.The combination of information used to establish credit may not appear on the consumer’s credit report for some time.This variation of information is sometimes impossible for law enforcement to follow up on because of the volume.
Consumers are paying for this fraud because of the increased fees passed down to them by the financial institutions who suffer losses.Collection agencies could also come after innocent victim’s whose social security number, name or other personal information is fraudulently used.
Synthetic identity fraud creates what is known as “Subfiles” within the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Trans Union & Experian).Subfiles are additional reports tied to an individual’s social security number at the 3 credit bureaus.The negative information from a delinquent file could ultimately be tied to a legitimate consumer.Subfiles can surface when a creditor or merchant attempts to verify a persons credit history.
What To Do If You Become A Victim of Synthetic Identity Theft
Consumers can employ traditional methods of detecting identity theft by ordering their credit reports and checking them carefully. Synthetic identity fraud information does not always appear on your credit report.Request all files pertaining to you social security number from the credit bureaus.Scrutinize credit denial letters.If you get turned down for credit, make sure the decision was based on information from your subfile.Review the denial letter carefully to determine if any of the information is inaccurate.
Watch your mailbox for suspicious mail or a reduction of usual mail flow.Identity thieves will use a change of address to reroute mail in an effort to perpetrate their fraud.Order your social security benefits statement annually to review your report. Many other traditional techniques can be employed to assist in the prevention of identity theft and synthetic identity fraud.
Purchase an industrial strength shredder and destroy all unwanted financial documents. Identity thieves will rummage through trash cans hoping to find
documents. These documents (Sometimes referred to as profiles) have a street value to criminals of $150.00 per person.
Promptly remove your mail from the mail box as soon as possible after delivery. Mail thieves can create personal profiles from documents stolen out of the mail box.
Avoid giving personal information over the telephone or internet such as your social security number, date of birth or driver’s license number. A common scam
referred to as pretexting is used to gather bits of information to create profiles of victim’s.
Empty your wallet of extra credit cards, social security card, PIN numbers or other financial information.This information should be memorized if possible to avoid any loss.
Order a social security statement semi annually to check for fraudulent information or changes. These statements provide valuable information about employment history or potential misuse of your number.
Never leave ATM receipts at the bank or other merchant receipts from a business. Many ATM and merchant receipts contain your name and a portion of your bank card number. The law requires businesses to redact all but the last five digits of your card number from store receipts.
Review all of your bank records and credit card statements for accuracy. Early detection can assist in repairing any potential misuse.