Each year, identity theft – one of the fastest growing crimes in the nation – harms millions of consumers across the country. Ultimately, the identity thief aims to obtain personal information about you – your Social Security number, birth name, credit card numbers, or birth date. With this information, the identity thief can assume your identity and establish bank accounts or credit in your name, leaving you to deal with the fallout. Identity thieves also can pose as you in the commission of a crime, perhaps leaving you with a false criminal record.
The State’s Attorney’s Office is committed to protecting the community from identity theft and prosecuting those responsible for this crime. As with all types of fraud, however, the most effective protection is a consumer’s own awareness and vigilance. The following information explains how to Prevent Identity Theft and offers Solutions For Victims.
New South Dakota laws offer help for victims of identity theft. As with all types of fraud, however, the most effective protection is a consumer’s own awareness and vigilance.
Criminals can only assume your identity if they have access to your personal information. Be careful when you disclose any personal facts, and keep in mind the following tips:
Never give anyone a credit card number or related information over the phone unless you initiated the call or are dealing with someone you know. Similarly, avoid confirming such information to a stranger on the telephone.
Do not carry your Social Security number, birth certificate, passport, or extra credit cards with you.
When using an ATM or public telephone, shield the viewing screen or keypad so that others cannot read your Personal Identification Number (PIN).
Do not write your Social Security number or credit card numbers on checks. The Social Security number is a prime target of criminals and provides them with the key to unlock a variety of personal information.
Order a copy of your credit report once a year from the three major credit bureaus – Experian (formerly TRW), Equifax, and Trans Union (see bottom for contact information). Check for false charges that may indicate fraud.
Shred all documents containing account numbers or other personal information before disposing of them. Bank and other financial statements, ATM and credit card receipts, and pre-approved credit offers are among criminals’ favorite sources of information.
Finally, keep a list of all credit card account numbers and expiration dates so that you can contact creditors quickly.
Most importantly, remember that personal information about you – your Social Security number, account numbers, maiden name, and PIN numbers – is the key to your identity. In the wrong hands, such information can be used at your expense.
SOLUTIONS FOR VICTIMS
If you believe somebody has stolen your identity, South Dakota law entitles you to relief. Your local police agency – or the agency where the crime took place – must take a police report from you, and must provide you with a copy of that report to help clear your name. In cases of imposters creating false criminal histories for innocent victims, the law provides a system for clearing your good name and correcting state criminal history records.
The following steps will help you block negative information resulting from fraud and reclaim control over your credit and criminal history records:
Financial Identity Theft
Gather as much information as you can about disputed credit data or other indications of identity theft.
Immediately close all your credit card accounts and notify the banks of the theft.
Report the alleged crime to your local police or sheriff’s department and ask the officer to write a police report of the incident.
Ask for a copy of the police report and make photocopies.
Send a copy of the police report, with a letter of explanation, to each of the three major credit bureaus: Experian (formerly TRW), Equifax, and Trans Union. (see bottom for contact information)
Continue to ask for copies of your credit reports regularly for at least several months to check for any new fraudulent accounts.
If your Social Security number was used fraudulently, report the problem to the Social Security Administration’s Fraud Hotline at (800) 269-0271.
Major credit bureaus:
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Experian (formerly TRW)
P.O. Box 1017
Allen, TX 75013-1017
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834-6790