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Guarding Against Identity Theft

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					GUARDING AGAINST IDENTITY THEFT

COUNTY OF SUFFOLK OFFICE OF THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY THOMAS J. SPOTA DISTRICT ATTORNEY
Presented by THE ECONOMIC CRIMES BUREAU (631) 853-4232

Assistant District Attorney
Joseph T. Conley III
Economic Crimes Bureau On behalf of the District Attorney Tom Spota, I welcome you to today’s program.

“My purse was stolen in December 1990. In February 1991, I started getting notices of bounced checks. About a year later, I received information that someone using my identity had defaulted on a number of lease agreements and bought a car. In 1997, I learned that someone had been working under my Social Security number for a number of years. A man had been arrested and used my SSN on his arrest sheet. There’s a hit in the FBI computers for my SSN with a different name and gender. I can’t get credit because of this situation. I was denied a mortgage, employment, credit cards and medical care for my children. I’ve even had auto insurance denied, medical insurance and tuition assistance denied.”

-From a consumer complaint to the FTC January 2, 2001

INFORMATION AGE


Fantastic achievements  Ways we communicate  Share information  Purchase goods OPPORTUNITY Criminals are creatures of OPPORTUNTITY

Identity theft the fastest growing crime in the country

Total Identity Theft Records by Calendar Year
250,000

214,905
200,000

161,836
150,000

108,706
100,000 50,000 0
  

86,212 56,838 30,992
CY 2001 CY 2002 CY 2003

Requests for Information Complaints

Reported cases Increased 132% since 2002 249% Increase in Complaints from 2001-2003 These figures only reflect cases reported

Major Metropolitan Areas Ranking for Fraud- Related Complaints January 1 – December 31, 2003
1) Washington DC-MD-VA-WV 2) Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA 3) San Diego, CA 4) Phoenix—Mesa, AZ 5) Tampa-St. Petersburg, Clearwater, FL 6) Oakland, CA 7) Denver, CO 8) Orange County, CA 9) Dallas, TX 10) Baltimore, MD 11) Atlanta, GA 12) Nassau-Suffolk, NY 13) Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN-WI 14) Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA 15) Boston, MA 16) St. Louis, MO-IL 17) Philadelphia, PA-NJ 18) Pittsburgh, PA 19) Newark, NJ 20) Chicago, IL 21) Cleveland-Lorain-Elyria, OH 22) Riverside- San Bernadino, CA 23) Detroit, MI 24) Miami, FL 25) New York, NY 26) Houston, TX

How Can Identity Theft Affect You?

Poor Credit Rating
 Denied

jobs loans leases

 Denied

 Denied

 Check

writing privileges

Financial Loss
A

typical victim’s financial losses have been calculated to be as high as $36,000
 Telephone

calls  Notarized statements  Loans  Counseling fees  Lost wages resulting from time taken off work

Arrest
Tickets

Warrants

TYPES OF INFORMATION THAT CAN BE STOLEN
   


 

Names Address Date of birth Telephone numbers Social security numbers Driver’s license numbers Bank Cards

      

Birth certificates Passports Driver’s license Mother’s maiden name Credit card/Bank account numbers Telephone calling cards Pin codes

HOW IDENTITY THEFT OCCURS

Criminals Get Information Through Businesses
 Stealing

records from employers  Bribing an employee who has access to these records  Hacking into the organization’s computers

“Dumpster Diving”
 Criminals

rummage through trash to obtain:
Credit
Bills

card applications

statements Documents with other valuable information on them

Bank

Theft
 Steal  Steal

wallets and purses
identification, credit cards, bank cards, checks

 containing

personal information from your home  Steal mail from your mailbox
 Pre-approved

credit offers, new checks, bank statements, tax info., social security info., etc.

Solicit You Personally
 Criminals

pose as:

officials Legitimate business people
Cable

Government

company Online provider Phone company

DIVERT MAIL TO ANOTHER LOCATION  Criminals complete a “change of address form”.
 Diverting

your mail to another

location

Who Is Committing These Crimes
     

Prior Criminals Branching Out First Time Criminals Neighbors Co-workers Friends Family

YOU CAN NEVER BE 100% SAFE
 Keep

using your credit cards and ATM cards.

 Use

what you learn today to lower the chances of becoming a victim.

Not trying to scare you
 We

want to make you aware of things you can do to reduce the risk of becoming a victim

WAYS TO HELP PREVENT IDENTITY THEFT

BE WEARY ABOUT WHO YOU GIVE PERSONAL INFORMATION TO.


Don’t give out personal information on the phone, through mail, or over the Internet unless:
 you

have initiated the contact and  you confirm who you are dealing with a legitimate representative or a legitimate organization

DON’T BE SHY, ASK QUESTIONS!
 Before
 Why

revealing any identifying information ask:
do you need it?  How will it be used?  How do you protect it from being stolen?  What will happen if I don’t give it to you?  Ask for a call back number?

PLACE PASSWORDS ON ACCOUNTS
CREDIT CARDS  BANK ACCOUNTS  PHONE ACCOUNTS

 AVOID

USING EASILY AVAILABLE INFORMATION LIKE YOUR MOTHER’S MAIDEN NAME, YOUR BIRTH DATE, OR THE LAST FOUR DIDGETS OF YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER

KEEP YOUR VALUABLE INFORMATION SAFE


Keep copies of credit cards, drivers license, passport, social security card, etc. Invest in a lockbox
 Keep



these copies along with check books and bank account information in a lockbox in your home.

Keep Alert
 



 

Monitor the balances of your financial accounts Look for unexplained charges or withdrawals Receiving credit cards for which you did not apply Denial of credit for no apparent reason Receiving calls or mail from debt collectors about merchandise you did not buy

GUARD YOUR MAIL FROM THEFT
Deposit outgoing mail in the post office collection boxes or at your local post office.  Promptly remove mail from you mailbox  If you plan on being away have a neighbor pick up your mail or call the U.S. Post Office at 1800-275-8777 to ask for a vacation hold


GUARD YOUR TRASH FROM THEFT
 Purchase

a Shredder to SHREAD documents, receipts, and envelopes containing your valuable information.

Popular Email Scams


Record Update or Account Misuse

Computers To The Rescue





2003 - 72% of identity thefts were done offline Internet does allow for quicker notification Victims who discovered the fraud over the internet


Average loss was $551.00



Victims who discovered fraud after being notified by mailed statements


Average loss was $4,543.00

COMPUTER PROTECTION



Use a firewall to limit uninvited access to your computer Don’t download files from strangers


Opening such files can expose your computer to a virus or hijacking program

 



Try not to store financial information on your computer Use a secure browser-software that encrypts or scrambles information you send over the internet Read website privacy policies

IF YOUR IDENTITY HAS BEEN STOLEN
 Place

a fraud alert on your credit reports
your credit report

 View  Close

unauthorized accounts

To Report Fraud
 Equifax 1-800-525-6285

  

Call

Experian 1-888-Experian TransUnion 1-800-680-7289 Call the Suffolk County DA’s office at (631) 853-4232 Call the Police

All three reports will be sent free of charge

WHAT IS BEING DONE ABOUT THE PROBLEM?
 On

October 2, 2002, the New York Legislature enacted legislation creating various levels of crimes for the possession or theft of “Personal Identifying Information.”

Locally, the SCDAO is committed to combating the growing problem


By creating a special unit comprised of prosecutorial and investigative staff to prosecute ID theft related cases. Educational Programs such as this are available upon request through the District Attorney’s Office
Call the Suffolk County DA’s Office at (631) 853-4232



Resources


Suffolk County District Attorney


www.co.suffolk.ny.us/da/links.htm
www.consumer.gov/idtheft/ www.usdoj.gov/criminal/fraud/idtheft.html www.usps.com/postalinspectors/idthft_ncpw.htm



Federal Trade Commission




United States Department of Justice




United State Postal Service


Thank You


				
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