Identity Theft Victim Information
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the nation. The Identity Theft Data Clearinghouse reports that the number of identity thefts reported nationwide grew from 161,896 in 2002 to 246,570 in 2004, with Illinois ranking tenth in the nation, at 87.6 victims per 100,000 populations. Out of the major metropolitan areas across the country, the Chicago-Naperville-Joliet area ranked nineteenth with 107.1 victims per 100,000 populations.
In response to the potential seriousness of this crime and the confusing array of information given to citizens on “what to do” in the event they are victims of Identity Theft, the State’s Attorney’s Office has put together an Identity Theft Victim Information Packet for victims that contains all the contact numbers, steps, and FTC affidavits.
In the packet titled: “Take Charge: Fighting Back Against Identity Theft”, you will find four immediate steps to take if you find yourself a victim of identity theft. Complete these four steps first and then read through the information to see if there are any other steps you should be taking for your individual case, including how to prevent yourself from becoming re-victimized.
By helping victims of Identity Theft speed up the process to report the crime to the appropriate agencies, victims can more quickly start the process to protect themselves from further damage or financial loss. If you have any questions or would like more information, please call your local police department or the State’s Attorney’s Office at 815-727-8453
Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft
Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the nation today. It is affecting over a half a million people each year costing millions of dollars in damage to credit ratings and savings accounts.
You may be a victim of identity theft and not even know it. How easy do you think it is for someone to obtain your identity? A lot easier than you think!
With the computer age upon us, there are hundreds of databases that collect and retain personal information about you. That information could include your buying habits, lifestyle activities, social security and driver’s license numbers, date of birth, phone number, home address, and profession.
If you think you may be a victim of Identity Theft, please contact your local Police Department or the Sheriff’s Department and begin the process to recover your identity by following the steps in Identity Theft Victim Information section of this website.
Where do they get my information?
Most information collected from you is collected legitimately, from grocery stores, magazine subscriptions, buying habits gleaned from credit card purchases, insurance carriers, and doctor’s offices. However, sometimes criminals gain access to this information. Another method of information gathering is much darker. Dumpster Divers check your mailbox and your garbage for credit card statements, bill receipts and other documents that may give them information on your credit or banking information.
How to Prevent Identity Theft
- Take your mail to the post office or put it in your mailbox right before the mail carrier comes.
- Shred all bill receipts and credit card and bank statements.
- Don’t put your social security number on your driver’s license
- Don’t carry your social security card, passport, or birth certificate unless it is absolutely necessary
- If someone calls you and offers you the chance to receive a credit card, “grand prize”, or anything else valuable, DO NOT give them any information, instead ask them to send you written verification. If they won’t, hang up.
- Keep a complete list of all your account numbers in a safe place and don’t forget to include the phone numbers for customer service.
- Watch the expiration dates on your credit cards. In the event your new card doesn’t show up on time, contact your credit card company immediately.
- Cancel credit cards that haven’t been used for six months; open credit is a prime target.
- Don’t put your credit card number on the Internet unless the site is noted as safe.
- If you want to stop receiving most pre-approved credit card applications from coming to you in the mail (information on persons with good credit is given to credit card companies from the credit reporting bureaus) call 1-888-5OPTOUT (567-8688).
- Stop all mail, newspapers and other recurring deliveries.
- Don’t give out any personal information unless you know and trust the person; i.e. hotel, car rental, etc.
- Use a secure (where no one can overhear you) location in the event you need to give out any personal information.
Check Your Credit Report
Beginning March 1, 2005, all Illinoisans can receive free copies of their credit reports once a year from each of the three national credit reporting agencies.
The annual free reports are available only through the centralized source set up the three credit reporting agencies. If consumers contact the companies directly they will still be charged for their credit reports. To obtain free reports, consumers can:
Annual Credit Reports Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
For more information on Identity Theft, visit http://www.consumer.gov/idtheft/