Identity Theft is a significant issue that affected over 13 million US citizens last year, nearly 2 million in California alone. The total cost of identity theft is almost $20 million, and can take months to years to fix.
On Tuesday, October 7, 2014, CHP officers working a special enforcement operation in Oakland made a traffic stop on a vehicle for speed and a broken headlight. Upon contacting the driver, officers discovered he was driving without a valid driver license, and was on parole. A search of the driver’s vehicle led to the discovery of over $10,000 in cash, and over 170 stolen or fraudulent credit cards, debit cards, and gift cards.
This is just one identity thief. Every two seconds in this country, someone’s identity is stolen. You can keep yourself safe from identity theft by taking several simple precautions.
* Never share your full Social Security number, personal information, or financial information via social media, email, or unsecure web pages.
* Always shred any paperwork that contains personal information prior to discarding.
* When in public, take only the identification, credit and debit cards, and cash you need. Leave other items in a secure location at home.
* Promptly retrieve your mail, or install a locking mailbox. When sending outgoing mail, hand-deliver it to a post office drop location.
* Monitor your monthly bank account and credit card statements. Report suspicious activity at once to your financial institution.
* When conducting transactions over the internet, make sure the “Lock” icon is present and that you are utilizing an “https://” web page. This ensures your information will be sent through the internet safely.
* Avoid conducting financial or business transactions when utilizing public wifi hotspots. Unscrupulous individuals may be able to discover your private information.
* Consider removing personal information from social media accounts, such as addresses, telephones, and other information. Increase your privacy settings so this information is only accessible to those you trust.
If you are the victim of identity theft, take these steps immediately:
1) Place an “Initial Fraud Alert” with one of the three credit reporting agencies.
2) Order your free copy of your credit report.
3) File an “Identity Theft Report” with the Federal Trade Commission at: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-2
Detailed information about #IdentityTheft can be found on our allied agencies’ websites:
Federal Trade Commission: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0014-identity-theft
California Attorney General’s Office: http://oag.ca.gov/idtheft
Together, we can help put a stop to identity theft and can keep our identities safe!
California Highway Patrol – Golden Gate Division
1551 Benicia Road
Vallejo, CA 94591