Over the past few years, there has been an increase in attempted internet theft and internet "phishing" related cases. The Plaistow Police Department would recommend visiting the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center website, which is the internet crime complaint center, to learn more about the internet schemes and how to be better protected. This site can also advise how to file a complaint if someone finds that they have become a victim of internet fraud.
Identity theft has been quickly becoming one of the costliest crimes in the nation amounting to billions of dollars in theft. This type of crime is one of the most difficult for law enforcement agencies to investigate.
The next time you go shopping, think of how easy and convenient it was to just write a check at the supermarket or use your charge card without showing any identification. See if the cashier even compares signatures. Then ask yourself how easy it would be for a thief to do the same.
Here are a few tips to help combat identity theft:
- The next time you order checks have only your initials (instead of your first name) and last name put on them. In the event that you lose your checkbook or it is stolen and someone tries to pass one of your checks, they will not know if you sign your checks with just the first initial of your first name or your full first name.
- For added security, put only checks in the checkbook. Keep supermarket cards with your full name separate, or have the cards made out with your first initial only. If you keep check cashing cards with your checks you give a person access to your signature.
- If you put a phone number on your checks, if possible, use a work or cell phone number. If you have a Post Office Box Number use that as opposed to your home address. Most importantly, NEVERput your SS# on your check!
- Place the contents of your wallet (your driver’s license and other IDs including any/and all bank cards, credit cards, medical ID cards, video club cards, etc) on a copy machine and photo copy front and back. Keep these copies in a safe and secure place at home. If your wallet is lost or stolen you will know exactly what you had in it. Write the numbers to cancel your cards beside each photo copy (these are listed on your statement) this way you will have instant access if you need to cancel them.
- When traveling, keep several copies of your passport in case you lose the original.
- If you lose your credit cards or they are stolen, file a police report immediately in the jurisdiction that they were lost or stolen in.
- In the event that you have lost personal information or you think it has been stolen, call the three major credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and social security.
- The three major credit reporting agencies are:
- Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
- Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742
- SS Administration (fraud line) 1-800-269-0271
- Never give personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call to a reputable institution.