March On Crime Week 4: Identity Theft & Fraud
March 27, 2006 -- During week
four of March On Crime the Houston Police Department created an
education campaign to help the public protect themselves from
identity theft. Due to the many ways of committing this crime,
everyone is a potential victim but there are a number of ways
to reduce the chance of becoming a victim. Reducing access to
personal identifying numbers is a must. Identity thieves
are sophisticated and use a wide range of techniques to obtain
your personal information. These include sorting through discarded
trash (dumpster diving), rifling through coworkers' desk drawers,
bribing bank employees, stealing U.S. mail, soliciting personal
identifiers through false job applications schemes and of course
on the internet.
1. Don't carry extra credit cards, your Social
Security card, birth certificate or passport in your wallet or
purse except when absolutely necessary.
2. Install a locked mailbox at your residence
or business to deter mail theft. Don't leave paid bills at your
mailbox for the postal carrier to pick up; take them to the post
3. Never print your Social Security number on
checks, and release the number only when absolutely necessary.
4. Carefully review credit card statements and
bank account statements.
5. Cancel all unused credit card accounts and
keep a list or photocopy of all your credit cards so you can contact
the issuers in case your cards are stolen.
6. Never give out your credit card number or
other personal information over the phone unless you have a trusted
business relationship with the company and you initiated the call.
7. When creating passwords and PINs, never use
the last four digits of your Social Security number, your birth
date, middle name, pet's name, consecutive numbers or anything
else that could easily be discovered by thieves
8. Don't throw away pre-approved credit offers
without shredding them first.
9. When you order new checks, do not have them
sent to your home's mailbox. Pick them up at the bank instead.
10. Order your credit report once a year from
each of the three credit bureaus, and make sure that you recognize
every line of business that has been established on your file.
If you suspect your identity has been stolen
contact your local police agency. The manner in which you have
been victimized will determine your next course of action. For
more information contact the Houston Police Department Financials
Crime Unit at 713-308-0900.
MOC Week 4
For additional information, please
contact the HPD Public Affairs Division at 713-308-3200.