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Front Page » December 20, 2005 » Local News » Identity Theft Crimes Continuing to Climb at Locations Ac...
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Identity Theft Crimes Continuing to Climb at Locations Across Utah, U.S.

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Identity fraud crimes continue to climb at locations across Utah and throughout the United States.

Frequently, the first notices consumers may receive indicating that criminal offenders have fraudulently assumed identities involve:

•Calls from collection agencies demanding payment on overdue accounts the victims never opened.

•The failure of monthly billing statements to arrive in the mail and victims find out that addresses on the valid credit accounts have been changed by an unauthorized individual or individuals.

The majority of victims never learn how the identity thieves accessed personal information, pointed out the Utah Division of Consumer Protection.

In fact, it may be impossible for Carbon County consumers to prevent access to all personal information, which is readily available to potential thieves and junk mail marketers from a variety of sources, noted the state agency.

The consumer protection division encourages Carbon County residents to implement several preventative measures to reduce the risks of falling victim to identity theft crimes.

The division advises local consumers to:

•Always question the information gathering and handling practices of merchants, financial institutions, creditors, government agencies, employers, educational institutions and others.

•Never provide personal, bank account or credit card information to individuals contacting consumers through a telephone solicitation.

Instead, the state agency encourages Carbon County residents to demand mailed information from telephone solicitors.

Consumers should then use the information to research the company, products and services.

•Store items with personal information in safe, preferably secure places.

People should keep lists of all account numbers, expiration dates and customer service phone numbers in a secure place so they can quickly contact creditors in case cards are lost or stolen.

•Tear, shred or destroy all automatic teller machine and bank receipts, old insurance forms, bank checks, expired credit cards and papers that include personal information, identification and account numbers.

The paperwork in question includes pre-approved credit card solicitations, explained the division of consumer protection.

Thieves oftentimes search through garbage to find forms and use the information to apply for credit cards in the victims' names, explained the consumer protection division.

•Carry a minimal number of credit cards and items containing personal information.

•Cancel all inactive bank and credit card accounts.

Inactive accounts appear on credit reports, which can be accessed by thieves, stressed the division of consumer protection.

•Never leave envelopes containing checks in unsecured home mailboxes.

Due to the increased risk of theft, it is best to mail bills and other sensitive items at the post office, rather than from private residences, indicated the division of consumer protection.

•When creating passwords or personal identification numers, consumers should never use the last four digits of their Social Security numbers, birth dates, middle names, mother's maiden names, addressed or anything that could be discovered by thieves.

Social security numbers--ask to have an alternative number where social security numbers are used for identification by schools, employers, or other institutions; resist writing your social security number on checks where possible, keep tax records and other financial documents in a secure place and destroy or delete social security numbers from any documents before throwing them away.

•People should never give or write names and addresses down in conjunction with credit card salse.

Local residents may want to have names, addresses and phone number deleted from solicitation lists by writing to Direct Marketing Associations Mail Preference Service, PO Box 9008, Farmingdale, NY 11735 and Telephone Preference Service, PO.Box 9015, Farmingdale, NY 11735.

•People should consider using other security passwords for financial accounts rather than common identifiers like a mother's maiden name and birth date.

Local residents who have drivers license numbers pre-printed on checks should always shred canceled checks before throwing away.

•Consumers should monitor credit reports on a regular basis.

People should check reports for changed addresses and fraudulent account information.

•Consumers should check monthly billing statements for fraudulent charges and report unlawful activity immediately.

Carbon County residents who not receive statement s on time should call the creditors first and then the post office to determine of fraudulent changes of address have been filed in their names, concluded the Utah Division of Consumer Protection

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