Preventing Identify Theft
Police increase vigilance
There are lots of things people should do to protect themselves and their property, but sometimes they don’t. Things like leaving valuables readily visible and unattended, leaving a car unlocked, or leaving a garage door open, are all seen by criminals as invitations to theft. On their routine patrols, Cranberry police see those sorts of invitations all the time, but unless a theft has actually occurred, they used to just shrug it off. No more.
Operation Vigilant Protector is a new proactive initiative of the Township’s police. When officers see badly secured property, they leave behind a card that indicates the unsafe condition along with their name and badge number for follow-up contact.
Cards are also left when police respond to false home alarms. On its reverse side are the steps needed to file a complaint in the event of identity theft. Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information, like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.
The FTC estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. In fact, you or someone you know may have experienced some form of identity theft.
Identify theft takes many forms. Identity thieves may rent an apartment, obtain a credit card, or establish a telephone account in your name. You may not find out about the theft until you review your credit report or a credit card statement and notice charges you didn’t make—or until you are contacted by a debt collector.
Identity theft is serious. While some identity theft victims can resolve their problems quickly, others spend hundreds of dollars and many days repairing damage to their good name and credit record. Some consumers victimized by identity theft may lose out on job opportunities, or be denied loans for education, housing or cars because of negative information on their credit reports. In rare cases, they may even be arrested for crimes they did not commit.
If you are a victim of identify theft
You should file a report with the police department. Your creditors will require this and it will also assist police in tracking down and hopefully arresting those responsible. To assist in this process, you will be required to complete an Identity Theft Affidavit. This can be provided to the police when you file the report or shortly afterward.
For more information and available resources, visit the Federal Trade Commission website to learn how to deter, detect and defend yourself against this growing crime.