COUNTY OF WELLINGTON – Police are reminding residents about the dangers of identity theft.
Identity theft is when someone unknown is using somebody else’s identity to gain access to their personal information.
Warning signs of identity theft include:
– A creditor informs you that an application for credit was received with your name and address, however you never applied.
– Telephone calls or letters indicate you have been approved or denied by a creditor for which you never applied.
– You receive credit card statements or other bills for account you do not hold.
– You are missing mail you regularly receive (credit card statements, banking statements.)
– A collection agency informs you they are collecting for a defaulted account established with your identity and you never opened the account.
Criminals will then use the information they obtained and use it to their advantage to commit identity fraud including:
– Access your computer/email
– Access your bank accounts
– Open new bank accounts
– Transfer bank balances
– Apply for loans, credit cards and other goods and services
– Make purchases
– Hide their criminal activities
– Obtain passports or receive Government benefits
Ways to prevent identity theft and fraud include:
– Identity theft can occur over the Internet, telephone, via fax or regular mail. Therefore, be particularly wary of unsolicited e-mails, text messages, telephone calls or mail attempting to extract personal or financial information from you.
– Periodically check your credit reports, bank and credit card statements and report any irregularities promptly to the relevant financial institution and to the credit bureau.
– During transactions, if you must hand over your card, never lose sight of it.
– Always shield your personal identification number when using an ATM or a PIN pad.
– Memorize all personal identification numbers for payment cards and telephone calling cards. Never write them on the cards.
– Familiarize yourself with billing cycles for your credit and debit cards.
– Trash bins are a goldmine for identity thieves. Make sure you shred personal and financial documents before putting them in the garbage.
– When you change your address, make sure you notify the post office and all relevant financial institutions (your bank and credit card companies.