One of the more serious crimes is identity crimes. This type of crime is perpetrated through the theft of credit card numbers, social security numbers, checks, ATM cards or driver's license numbers. A fraudulent change of address is a common way of obtaining the information.
CRIME PREVENTION TIP - Identity theft is very complicated. Basically it involves an unauthorized person using your personal information to establish new lines of credit of which you are totally unaware. Often you do not know about it until collection agencies begin calling for payment on accounts that you never knew existed, or you are refused credit due to elinquent accounts. There are software packages that are designed to lessen the amount of personal information that can be taken off of your computer when you are using the Internet. You can also contact your internet service provider to ask what protection, if any, is provided when you use their service. Beware of email viruses that can destroy your computer's hard drive. Do not open email messages if you cannot identify the person sending the message. If, possible, install an anti virus program on your computer. Always remember to be cautious when you are on the Internet.
CRIME PREVENTION TIP - If your grandchildren come over to use your computer, set limits. Chat rooms have been linked to child exploitation and abuse. Be aware of what web sites that children are using at all times and what information is being given out at that site.
CRIME PREVENTION TIP - To remove your name from as many lists as possible, write to:
Mail Preference Service
P.O. Box 9008
Farmington, NY 11735
This will not stop all junk mailings, but it should help. Examine all your junk mail to make sure the contents do not include account numbers, blank checks or credit cards with your name listed.
NEGATIVE MAIL SCAN:
CRIME PREVENTION TIP - "Negative mailings" work under the assumption that if you do not reply to their mail offer, you are accepting it. An account will be set up for you and you may be charged a fee. You may or may not receive a product from them in the mail. Be sure to read all mailings carefully to see if you need to reply. Keep a copy of the reply letter you send back to the company. In the event you receive an unauthorized bill, call the company immediately.
IF YOU SUSPECT IDENTITY THEFT, YOU SHOULD ACT IMMEDIATELY:
CRIME PREVENTION TIP - A credit report may be ordered at any time from the three major credit bureaus. There is a fee for obtaining these reports. However, if you are a victim of fraud, the credit bureau is required to provide you with a free copy of your credit report. The credit bureaus are Equifax (800) 685-1111, Experian (800) 682-7654, and Trans Union (800) 888-4213. If you suspect that someone is using your identity, please contact your local law enforcement agency.
CRIME PREVENTION TIP - Keep an updated copy of the front and back sides of each of your credit cards in a safe place. Check your credit card bills to make sure you purchased all of the items listed. If you lose your credit card of find an unauthorized purchase on your bill, call the credit card company immediately. Follow up your conversation with a written letter. Never give out your credit card numbers over the phone unless you have a proven business relationship with that company. Always shred all credit card receipts.
If your credit cards have been stolen, you should immediately:
CRIME PREVENTION TIP - If checks that you ordered are being shipped via the mail service, inspect your order upon receipt, If your checks do not arrive in a timely manner, and your suspect that the checks may have been stolen, contact your bank regarding the order. Always compare all bank statements and written checks with your check ledger. If you suspect that someone has stolen a check, contact your bank. If the bank confirms a forged check, contact your local law enforcement agency immediately.
ATM CARD THEFT:
CRIME PREVENTION TIP - When using your ATM, watch out for "shoulder surfing" (someone watching over your shoulder). Choose a PIN number that has nothing to do with your life. Do not use any part of your Social Security number, date of birth, street number, telephone number or pet's name. Retain your receipts until you receive your bank statement. Review your bank statements to see if you have any unauthorized charges on your ATM. If you do, call your bank immediately.
DRIVER'S LICENSE LOSS OR THEFT:
CRIME PREVENTION TIP - CRIME PREVENTION TIP - Keep your driver's license with you at all times. In the event you lose your license or it is stolen, go to the Department of Motor Vehicles immediately to get a replacement. In Placerville, the DMV is located at 2919 Cold Springs Road and the telephone number is (800) 777-0133. In South Lake Tahoe, DMV is located at 3344 Lake Tahoe Blvd. (behind Bank of America) and the telephone number is (800) 777-0133.
FRAUDULENT CHANGE OF ADDRESS:
CRIME PREVENTION TIP - If you normally receive mail daily, but notice a sudden decline in the volume of daily mail, or if you suspect a fraudulent change of address, notify your local postmaster.
COMPUTER IDENTITY THEFT:
CRIME PREVENTION TIP - Computer information theft is relative new. There are several precautionary steps that can be taken when using your personal computer. Purchase from secure sites only. Your computer will indicate that you are entering a secure site. If it does not, do not purchase anything from that site. Use only one credit card for all purchases made on the Internet. Check your credit card bill carefully each month to make sure there are no unauthorized purchases. Software is now available that will help protect you against identity theft on the Internet.
TELEPHONE CHARITY CALLS:
CRIME PREVENTION TIP - Check the telephone book to see if the charity is listed. If the caller says they are affiliated with a major charity, check with that charity to see if it is true. Ask the caller to send you printed information. Try to make sure the charity and the caller are legitimate before you donate.
SOCIAL SECURITY THEFT:
CRIME PREVENTION TIP - Never carry your social security card with you unless it is necessary. Do not put your social security number on your checks.
If you have lost your social security card, call the local Social Security Office at (530) 626-8415 or locate your local office Social Security Administration. If you suspect social security theft, you can order an Earnings and Benefits Statement in writing at 4355 B Golden Center Drive, Placerville, CA 95667.
CRIME PREVENTION TIP - Beware of pressure selling techniques. Tell the caller that you want to think about their offer and to please send you some information on the product or program. If you wish, you have the right to tell the caller that you do not want to be telephoned by their company again. By law, they are not to call you for one year, If the company calls you after you have told them to stop, ask them if the company is in California. If it is, you can call and file a complaint with the California Attorney General. The telephone number is (916) 445-9555. If the company is out of state, you can call the Federal Trade Commission at (202) 326-3650.
USE OF CALLER ID (IDENTIFICATION):
CRIME PREVENTION TIP - Use caller ID to identify incoming calls. If the ID indicates the name or number is unknown or blocked, it may be a solicitor.
TELEPHONE PRIZE OFFERS:
CRIME PREVENTION TIP - If the prize offer sounds too good to be true, it usually isn't true. The prizes are usually worthless and may require a fee, a purchase, a credit card number (never give this out) or ask that you attend a sales presentation. Don't be fooled into thinking you can get something for nothing. It just doesn't happen.
CRIME PREVENTION TIP - Ask the salesperson to send you literature on the investment. Tell him/her you want to look over the material before discussing the investment. If the salesperson continues to pressure you into making a decision, tell the salesperson you are not interested and hang up. Reputable investment brokers do not work that way. Be very cautious!
TELEPHONE RECOVERY SCAMS:
CRIME PREVENTION TIP - If you are the victim of a prize or investment scam, you may receive a call from a recovery scam artist. This person is part of the original scam and will tell you he or she can recover your money for a fee. Be careful, even law enforcement cannot guarantee that you will get your money back.
CRIME PREVENTION TIP - Always keep your carry-on luggage with you. Never put any valuable items inside your checked luggage. Check the luggage receipt number on your bags to make sure it matches your claim check. Claim your luggage immediately after leaving the plane. Don't let it sit unattended at the baggage claim area. If you feel that something is amiss with your luggage, contact airport security.
If you wear a fanny pack to carry your valuables, try not to wear it in a visible place. Cover it with a jacket or shirt. You should also be careful when making telephone calls from a pay telephone, if your are using a calling card. Be sure no one is watching you when you enter your PIN number.
PERSONAL SAFETY AT HOME:
CRIME PREVENTION TIP - Install a locked mailbox at your residence or use a post office box to reduce mail theft. Make sure your street number is easily visible on your home and mailbox so that emergency personnel can easily find your house. Install dead bolts on your outside doors. Always keep a list of the medications you are taking and the dosages on your refrigerator door.
If your are alone or in an isolated area, the County of El Dorado now has the YANA (You Are Not Alone) program. The volunteers in this program will be happy to call you on a daily basis to check on you. They may be contacted in Placerville at (530) 621-6159 and in South Lake Tahoe at (530) 573-3005.
PERSONAL SAFETY IN THE CAR:
CRIME PREVENTION TIP - When traveling alone in a car, be very cautious at rest stops. If you must leave your car to use the restroom or telephone, make sure other people are nearby. If not, drive to the next destination. When you return to your car, be alert for anyone hiding in nearby cars and check your back seat and floor before getting into your vehicle. Always keep your doors locked when your car is parked and park in a well lit area. Carry a flashlight with you so that you can see the lock as you insert your key into the car door.