Fresno Police Department
Preventing ID theft or Catching The Fraud Early
1. Mail theft – Mail theft is a common way that ID thieves get your information. They can steal mail that you send or receive.
- Sending mail – Mail thieves frequently target the blue postal boxes. They can empty a mail box in a matter of minutes, taking with them the check that you just mailed. With that one check, ID thieves can manufacture multiple checks, pay their bills by phone or online or order from catalogs or online.
Receiving mail – When you get a credit card statements, new cards, courtesy checks, offers for credit cards, and any financial information in the mail, the ID thief has enough information to get a credit card in your name, use your existing credit card, use the courtesy checks, etc. They also can get enough information about you and they can change your address, so your mail goes to them.
2. Alerts – Most banks, credit unions, and credit card providers allow you to use online methods to notify you of activity on your account. You set the threshold and the method of contact. For example, you ask to be notified of any transaction over $100. When a transaction occurs over that level, you are sent an email. If you made the transaction, you delete it. If it is not yours, you caught the fraudulent transaction early.
3. Virtual Credit Cards – Some financial institutions issue virtual credit cards for online transactions. The virtual number is tied to your regular credit card, but it is issued for a one time or one day use only.
4. Carry only one or two credit cards – If your purse or wallet is stolen, you only have a few cards to check on.
5. Be aware that credit/debit cards can be copied – Credit and debit cards can be skimmed (copied) by using equipment readily available on the internet. Before you swipe your card, look to make sure there has been nothing added to the card reader. Hide your PIN from hidden cameras. Some skimmers can be hidden in devices such as gas pumps. When you swipe your card, it copies while it completes your transaction. Later the crook retrieves the data, which can be done wirelessly.
6. Protect your social security number – Do not carry your social security card with you. Try to avoid giving your social security to anyone unless it is required. It is okay to question the need for your social security number. Remember, the file with your number could be discarded or stolen years later.
7. Use a Shredder – Shred receipts, credit card statements, and anything with multiple forms of personal identifying information, such as your name, address and telephone.
8. Use Virus protection and Firewalls on your computer – Computers can be attacked by viruses that install a key logger. These key loggers record your key strokes (user names and passwords) and can send information to unauthorized people.
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