Identity Theft and Fraud
Identity theft and internet fraud are becoming epidemic across the country. No one is immune, including residents of smaller communities like Jackson. If you use a credit card, write checks, use email, shop on the Internet, you are at risk if you’re not careful. This department handles financial crime complaints every week. Many times, we can’t do anything for the victim because the suspect is in another state… or another country. Sometimes the bank will cover the loss… but we had one victim who lost thousands of dollars.
This page provides all of the information at our disposal to help you prevent a loss, and what to do if you’ve been victimized.
First, file a complaint with a law enforcement agency. Determining the “venue” of the crime can sometimes be complicated, but call here and if the complaint shouldn’t be filed with us, we’ll tell you where it should be.
Check out http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft for information to both prevent and remedy an ID theft situation.
If you’ve been victimized, go here for publications that include instructions on contacting credit union, banks, etc: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/menus/consumer/data/idt.shtm
The International Association of Chiefs of Police offers this new web page on ID theft: http://www.idsafety.org/
TWO STEPS THAT WILL KEEP YOU OUT OF TROUBLE:
- DO NOT ANSWER AN EMAIL MESSAGE FROM YOUR BANK
PHISHING – “We suspect an unauthorized transaction on your account. To ensure that your account is not compromised, please click the link below and confirm your identity.”
“Phishers” send spam or pop-up messages claiming to be from a business or organization that you might deal with — for example, an Internet service provider (ISP), bank, online payment service, or even a government agency. The message usually says that you need to “update” or “validate” your account information. It might threaten some dire consequence if you don’t respond. The message directs you to a website that looks just like a legitimate organization’s, but isn’t. The purpose of the bogus site? To trick you into divulging your personal information so the operators can steal your identity and run up bills or commit crimes in your name. Don’t take the bait: never reply to or click on links in email or pop-ups that ask for personal information. Legitimate companies don’t ask for this information via email. If you are directed to a website to update your information, verify that the site is legitimate by calling the company directly, using contact information from your account statements. Or open a new browser window and type the URL into the address field, watching that the actual URL of the site you visit doesn’t change and is still the one you intended to visit. Forward spam that is phishing for information to email@example.com> and to the company, bank, or organization impersonated in the phishing email. Most organizations have information on their websites about where to report problems.
DON’T WIRE MONEY TO STRANGERS. One rule will prevent a majority of losses: DON’T WIRE MONEY. If you send it to a thief, your money will disappear, sometimes to Latvia, Canada or other exotic places. Yes, overseas thieves have targeted residents of “sleepy little Jackson”. The schemes can be complicated. The victim is told that he won a lottery but must pre-pay the taxes; someone is sent a check, told to cash it, keep some, and send the rest; someone posing as a grandchild is stranded and needs money. There are always new stories, but the common denominator is the money has to be wired. Jackson residents have lost thousands of dollars to these frauds.
Don’t wire money as a down-payment for anything purchased in an on-line auction. When buying on EBay, follow that company’s instructions carefully regarding escrow services. Fraudulent sellers have been steering people into using phony escrow companies, with the usual results.
If you’re tempted to wire money because of a phone call or email message, please contact the police department first.