Identity Theft

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According to the Federal Trade Commission, Arizona is the highest identity theft State.

How to protect yourself and what to do if victimized

Many of the offenders committing identity theft and forgery are drug abusers. In order to finance their addiction these offenders are stealing mail, dumpster diving behind businesses and breaking into cars, homes and businesses looking for any documents or articles that may contain this information. Your personal information is then being used to apply for credit cards, retail credit or to counterfeit checks with your account number.

It is important to protect your information at all times and ensure that any business that obtains your information in the course of doing business is questioned by you as to how they are going to protect or destroy that information once they have finished with it.

If you find that you have been victimized, refer to the information supplied on this site. Follow the steps outlined and keep a personal file on each incident to aid in clearing up your credit. Included on this site are downloadable forms and tip sheets that you may print and use at your discretion.

How to Minimize your Risk

  1. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) only one website is authorized to fill orders for the free annual credit report that you are entitled to under law - annualcreditreport.com or you can call them at 1-877-322-8228.
    FTC states:
    • “Other websites that claim to offer “free credit reports,” “free credit scores,” or “free credit monitoring” are not part of the legally mandated free annual credit report program. In some cases, the “free” product comes with strings attached. For example, some sites sign you up for a supposedly “free” service that converts to one you have to pay for after a trial period. If you don’t cancel during the trial period, you may be unwittingly agreeing to let the company start charging fees to your credit card.
      Some “imposter” sites use terms like “free report” in their names; others have URLs that purposely misspell annualcreditreport.com in the hope that you will mistype the name of the official site. Some of these “imposter” sites direct you to other sites that try to sell you something or collect your personal information.
    • Annualcreditreport.com and the nationwide consumer reporting companies will not send you an email asking for your personal information. If you get an email, see a pop-up ad, or get a phone call from someone claiming to be from annualcreditreport.com or any of the three nationwide consumer-reporting companies, do not reply or click on any link in the message. It’s probably a scam. Forward any such email to the FTC at spam@uce.gov”.
  2. Place passwords on your credit card, bank and phone accounts. Avoid using easily available information like your mother’s maiden name, DOB, last four of your Social Security number, your phone number or 1234.Some businesses have on their applications a line for your mother’s maiden name, ask if you can put a password instead.
  3. Secure personal information in your home, especially if you have roommates, employ outside help, or are having work done in your home.
  4. Don’t give personal information over the telephone, through the mail or the Internet unless YOU INITIATED IT or you know whom you are dealing with.
    Suspects are clever and act like a bank employee, Internet Providers, even government agencies.
  5. Shed all unwanted documents that contain your name, address or any other personal information, i.e., charged receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, checks and bank statements, expired charge cards that you’re discarded and credit offered you get in the mail. Suspects will go through your trash and recycling bins to capture your personal information.
  6. Deposit your outgoing mail in a post office, collection box, rather than an unsecured mailbox. Promptly remove your mail after it is delivered. If you go on vacation, place a vacation hold with the Postal Service at 1-800 ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777).
  7. Do not carry your Social Security number with you.
  8. Give your Social Security number only when ABSOLUTELY necessary. Change driver’s license number and health insurance card, if they are using your Social Security number.
    Give your Social Security number to employer and financial institution for tax reporting, applying for a loan, renting an apartment or signing up for utilities (so they can do a credit check).
    Questions to ask:
    Why do you need my Social Security number?
    How will my Social Security number be used?
    How do you protect my Social Security number from being stolen?
    What will happen if I do not give you my Social Security number?
  9. Be cautious when responding to promotions. ID thieves may create phony promotional offers to get you to give them your personal information.
  10. When ordering new checks, pick them up at your bank and not from you mailbox.

What to do if you become a victim

  1. Call the police. The Sedona Police Department does have an Identity Theft Victim’s Packet for you to fill out.
    • If you suspect someone is using your personal information for employment and there is no evidence of other identity fraud, please do not contact the employer directly as they may warn the suspect employee. Contact the Social Security Administration Fraud hotline at 1-800-269-0271. Order a copy of your Personal Earnings and Benefit Estimate Statement (PEBES) to check the accuracy of your work history on file with the Social Security Administration. You can obtain a PEBES application at your local Social Security Office or at www.ssa.gov
    • If your name and/or information is used by someone else to avoid a traffic ticket or any criminal prosecution, please contact the agency investigation the original crime.
    • If you believe there is investment fraud or mishandling of your investments by securities professionals, you can call 1-202-942-7040 or visit their website at http://www.sec.gov
  2. Contact your bank and other credit issuers.
  3. Contact all three (3) major credit reporting bureaus
  4. Equifax 1-800-525-6285
  5. TransUnion 1-800-680-7289
  6. Experian 1-888-397-3742
  7. File a report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You can contact them online at www.consumer.gov/idtheft.com or by calling 1-877-IDTHEFT
  8. Contact creditors involved in the Identity Theft by phone and in writing. The police will give you an Identity Theft Victim’s Packet, which has the FTC Identity Theft Affidavit, samples of dispute letters and a copy of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003.
  9. Document, document, document and document everything.