Benton County, Oregon

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Printed on Sep 02, 2015 @ 3:32 AM

Benton County Sheriff's Office – Identity Theft

What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information, such as your name, date of birth, social security number, or other personal identification to obtain cash, property, services, or otherwise gain a benefit.

How is My Information Compromised?

The most common method of obtaining your personal information is through mail theft. Criminals will often target different neighborhoods for a period of time slowly gathering up pieces of mail. Over a period of time criminals can obtain enough information on an individual to obtain the information they need to apply for credit cards, checks, etc. in your name.

Having a locked mail box and using the post office boxes to mail your bills will help you protect your information.

Another method of obtaining your personal information is through a process called Phishing. Phishing occurs when you are called or e-mailed unexpectedly under the guise that they are from your bank, credit card company, or another business. The Identity Theft thief will attempt to solicit personal information about you (i.e., name, date of birth, social security number, etc.).

A further method is businesses will sometimes hire thieves unknowingly. There have been cases where employee’s of companies have stolen customer information and used it for financial gain. You can protect yourself against this kind of Identity Theft by running a yearly credit report on your account and taking the time to look over all your monthly financial statements.

Credit CardsHow Can I Protect Myself?

  1. Review your credit report annually. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you have the right to obtain a free credit report once every 12 months from each of the three national credit reporting bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. However, you can obtain free reports through a single authorized website:
  1. Obtain a locked mailbox, and use post office boxes to mail your bills.
  1. Check over financial statements monthly.
  1. When you order checks, do not have your full name printed on them. Consider using only your initials and your last name. The thief will not know what name to sign or to use.
  1. Also when ordering your checks, use your PO Box number or your work address. Even better, use your work phone number instead of your home number.
  1. Never print or write your Social Security Number on your checks.
  1. Do not allow your driver's license number to be written on a check. With the rest of the information on your check, a thief will have little problem in obtaining a duplicate driver's license or a new driver's license in another state.
  1. When you sign the back of your credit cards also write: "Photo ID Required."
  1. When paying credit card bills, do not put your full account number on the "for" line, only the last four digits of your account are needed – the company knows your number.
  1. Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine and copy both sides. You will have all your account numbers and the contact numbers in case of a theft or a lost wallet. Keep this copy safe. When traveling, keep the copy on your person at all times.

In Case of a Theft

  1. Cancel all your credit cards immediately.
  1. Immediately file a police report in the jurisdiction where the theft occurred and get a copy of the police report or at least record the number of the report and contact information for the agency taking the report
  1. Call the three major national credit reporting agencies and the Social Security Administration:
Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742
Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289
Social Security (fraud line): 1-800-269-0271

Most Important – safeguard all your credit cards, ID cards of all kinds, and all other personal information. If it is not stolen or lost, you are less likely to become a victim of identity theft.

Other Sources of Information