Identity theft has become a wide scale problem across the United States. Identity theft is the number one online crime committed. It is rather easy to lose control of your personal information over the internet if you are not cautious and aware of current crime trends. Recent stats:
- In 2008 its estimated there were 8.6 million households with members over the age of 12 who were victims of ID Theft,
- 2008 stats were up from 2005 stats that showed that number to be 6.4 million,
- Credit Card abuse related crimes affected 5.5 million in 2010,
- US households experiecned a total of $13.3 billion dollars in loss in 2010,
- The average loss per US household in 2010 was $2,200,
- Misuse of personal information represented 30% of financial loss in 2010, average loss per household via this method was $13,200,
- Credit Card abuse accounted for 54% of all identity theft type cases in 2010.
*Information provided by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
So what is Texas’ law on Identity Theft:
What to do if you become a victim of ID Theft
If your complaint is essentially a non-criminal dispute with a retailer or other business, you must immediately dispute the charge(s) in writing with the customer relations office of your credit card company.
If you have been the victim of credit card fraud or identity theft, the following tips will assist you:
- Report the crime to the police immediately. Get a copy of your police report or case number. Credit card companies, your bank, and the insurance company may ask you to reference the report to verify the crime.
- Immediately contact your credit card issuers. Get replacement cards with new account numbers and ask that the old account be processed as “account closed at consumer’s request” for credit record purposes. You should also follow up this telephone conversation with a letter to the credit card company that summarizes your request in writing.
- Call the fraud units of the three credit reporting bureaus. Report the theft of your credit cards and/or numbers. Ask that your accounts be flagged. Also, add a victim’s statement to your report that requests that they contact you to verify future credit applications. The following is a list of addresses and numbers to the three credit bureaus:
- Equifax Credit Information Services
Consumer Fraud Division
P.O. Box 105496
Atlanta, Georgia 30348-5496
Tel: (800) 997-2493
P.O. Box 2104
Allen, Texas 75013-2104
Tel: (888) EXPERIAN (397-3742)
- Trans Union Fraud Victim
P.O. Box 390
Springfield, PA 19064-0390
Tel: (800) 680-7289
- Equifax Credit Information Services
- Keep a log of all conversations with authorities and financial entities.
- As with any personal information, only provide your credit card number to merchants you know. Also, remember to protect your social security number. You have to give your social security number for employment and tax purposes, but it is not necessary for many businesses. Notify the Social Security Administration.s Office of Inspector General if your social security number has been used fraudulently.
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the federal clearinghouse for complaints by victims of identity theft. Although the FTC does not have the authority to bring criminal cases, the Commission assists victims of identity theft by providing them with information to help them resolve the financial and other problems that can result from identity theft. The FTC also may refer victim complaints to other appropriate government agencies and private organizations for further action. If you have been a victim of identity theft, you can file a complaint with the FTC by contacting the FTC’s Consumer Response Center.
Security Freeze Law
Texas has also enacted a law which can be reviewed under Chapter 20 of the Texas Business and Commerce Code. This law is know as the Regulation of Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act This law entitles victims of identity theft to put a freeze on their credit so as to restrict credit agencies from releasing credit information until one chooses. If one chooses to enact this security freeze on one’s credit, would-be criminals will no longer be able to obtain credit in the victim’s name. You can read more about this law by downloading the document below.
The Aransas Pass Police Department is required by law to take an identity theft report from victims residing in the City Limits of Aransas Pass. This means, no matter where your identity is being used or where it may have been stolen, the Aransas Pass Police Department will make the initial report, as long as you reside within the City Limits, and forward it to the appropriate agency which has jurisdiction.
If you have found yourself a victim of identity theft, please review the following documents which consist of an ID Theft Affidavit, ID Theft Report Packet, and an ID Theft informative guide. The affidavit, or sworn statement, is what you will show current, former, and potential creditors after discovering that you have become a victim of Identity Theft. This affidavit is a form that may be required by your creditors. Your creditors should work with you in getting your credit issues straightened out. The ID Theft Report is a document provided by the US Secret Service and is required on all ID theft cases reported to the Aransas Pass Police. We request that a copy of the ID Theft Report be completed and turned in at the time of your report to the Aransas Pass Police Department. And finally, the last document is the ID Theft Informative Guide. This guide will go into more detail on how to resolve the damage created when one becomes a victim of identity theft.