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Identity Theft Information
Identity Theft is the unauthorized use of personal identifying (ID) information, such as a name, date of birth, or S ocial Security number, to commit financial fraud. It can include a number of crimes, from the unauthorized use of credit cards to a complete takeover of another person's name and financial accounts, An identity thief may use someone's personal identifiers to illegally obtain credit cards, open checking account, apply for loans, rent or purchase residences, establish services with utility companies, or engage in other fraudulent activity.
By Illinois State Law, financial identity theft occurs when a person knowingly uses someone's personal ID's or documents to fraudulently obtain credit, money, goods, services, or other property in the name of that person.
- Personal ID's may include name, address, telephone number, birth certificates, Social Security cards, credit cards used as ID's etc.
- Credit may include credit cards used to make purchases, debit cards, automobile loans, etc.
- Money may include cash, loans, insurance, benefits, unemployment benefits, second mortgages, etc.
- Goods may include items, such as computers, automobiles, etc. Services may include bank account, utility services, etc.
- Other property may include real estate, apartment rentals, or anything that does not fall into the other four categories.
Who are the Victims of Identity Theft?
Banks and retail merchants as well as the account holder become victims when an individual uses accounts to which they are not entitled to use. The holder of the account even through protected by insurance or credit card reimbursement provisions may have to go through a difficult, expensive and lengthy process to reestablish their credit.
How Identity Theft May Occur
Offenders who commit identity theft may or may not be known to the victim. There are many ways the offender uses to obtain the victim's account information. Information can be obtained from trash bins at banks, mortgage firms, social or credit agencies, city-state federal agencies, obituaries and residential garbage cans. Bank statements and credit card statements can be stolen from mailboxes. Identity thieves work at locations which have access to your personal records such as, car dealerships, mortgages, collection agencies, utility services and telemarketer. Information can sometimes be found on the internet or commercial databases that are fee accessed. Information obtained from these sources is used to assume false identity.
Preventing Identity Theft
Do's and Donts' for preventing identity theft:
- Protect your mail by removing it from your mailbox as soon as possible. If you believe that your mail was opened or altered, notify the sender and be aware of phone calls requesting you to verify your credit card numbers, loans, or bank accounts. If you are expecting a new or renewed credit card or other financial documents by a certain date, watch the mail to be certain it arrives and pursue the matter if it fails to arrive.
- Shred/tear up any discarded paperwork that contains personal identifiers or financial information. If a vendor uses carbon copies for credit card bills, ask for and destroy the carbons.
- Be aware of where your personal identification is kept, and who has access to it. Protect your wallet and purse, and never leave them unattended.
- Carefully review your bills, including utility bills and bank statements, to ensure that all balances and receipts match and no activity is unaccounted for.
- If you use a computer to install software that encrypts information you sent in an email. You can also ask your financial institution to add security to your accounts, such as special passwords.
- Stop pre-approved credit card offers by calling all three credit reporting bureaus and opting out of the programs. By opting out, you receive fewer pre-approved loans and credit applications.
- Do not give out personal information in response to unsolicited offers by phone, mail, internet, or in person. Criminals may pose as legitimate business people, charity workers, or law enforcement officers to gain your trust.
- Do not use your Social Security number unless you have to, including your driver's license number and checks. The Illinois Secretary of State allows drivers the option of having a Social Security number on the driver's license.
- Do not fill out warranty cards for items you purchase or enter sweepstakes. Such information is often sold to others as a marketing tool.
- Personal identifiers, account numbers, and other private information should not be provided to someone, unless you know the information will be secure.
Following these steps will reduce your risk of being a victim of an identity theft. Your goal should be to reduce other people's access to your information, so you should know what people and companies do with information you give them. Keep these facts in mind:
- Know the person or company to whom you give information
- Ask what the person or company will do with the information
- Error on the side of caution--keep an eye on your financial picture, so if irregularities occur you will recognize them.
- Remember: Although you may not have to pay fraudulent bills, it will be your responsibility to correct errors and restore your good financial rating.
What to Do if You Are a Victim of Identity Theft
If you have been victimized by identity theft, you should take certain steps to protect yourself and minimize the consequences. Correcting the damage to your credit rating and good name may be tedious and time-consuming. As you speak to the contacts listed below, write down the names of the people you talk with, their positions, their responses, and the dates and times of your conversations. When sending correspondence through the mail, keep copies, and use registered mail with a return receipt requested. The post office can help you with the procedures for registered mail.
Illinois Attorney General Office
100 Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60601
500 South Second Street
Springfield, IL 62706
Identity Theft hotline 1-866-999-5630
Will County State’s Attorney Office
121 N. Chicago St.
Joliet, Il. 60432
Crest Hill Police Department
1610 Plainfield Rd.
Crest Hill, IL. 60403
Transunion Credit Agency
Fraud and Identity Theft
Equifax Credit Agency
Experian Credit Agency