Identity Theft

Did you know?

In 2004, the Federal Trade Commission received 600 identity theft complaints from Idahoans. This is up from 493 victims in 2003 and 361 victims in 2002.
Credit card theft was the number one identity theft type reported by Idaho residents.

What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft is when someone uses your personal information without your permission to obtain goods, services, or money. Your personal information includes: your name, address, social security number, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, mother’s maiden name, or other identifying information. Identity theft is a crime. Idaho Code 18-3126 governs identity theft and states that if the value of loss due to identity theft exceeds $300, then the theft is considered a felony. The punishment for felony identity theft is 5 years in prison and / or a $50,000 fine.

Identity theft sometimes begins with a lost or stolen wallet or purse. Identity thieves may:

Search through your trash, looking for useful financial or personal information.
Call you on the phone, impersonating a representative of a business, and ask for your credit card number or your social security number.
Try to get your personal information online by sending you emails asking you to reply to phony offers or by illegally viewing your online transactions.
Put in a change of address at the post office without your knowledge.

Often times, identity thieves will not use stolen checks or credit card numbers directly, but use them to obtain loans or new credit cards in your name, or use them to drain your bank account. You may not realize you are a victim of identity theft until you receive a bill for charges you did not incur or you are denied credit for no apparent reason.

How can I protect myself from Identity Theft?

Learn to protect your personal and financial information.

Never give your credit card, bank account, or social security information to anyone who initiates contact with you.
Tear up or shred pre-approved credit card or loan offers before throwing them away.
Request your name be removed from lists for pre-approved, unsolicited credit and insurance offers by calling 1-888-567-8688.
Tear up or shred all financial documents before throwing them away.
Check your credit report every year. To get a free credit report, call 1-877-322-8228. Or go online to: www.annualcreditreport.com
Remove your mail promptly from your mail box. If you are going on vacation, request a hold on your mail by calling 1-800-275-8777. Or go online to: www.usps.gov
Install virus and spyware protection software on your computer and update it regularly.
Only shop from internet sites that offer secure transactions.
When creating accounts online, choose passwords that are combinations of letters and numbers.
Research an organization or business with the Better Business Bureau to see if they are legitimate. Online, go to: www.bbb.org
Limit the personal information you carry in your wallet or purse. Carry only what you need.
Watch out for fraudulent promotional scams and offers such as:
Foreign lotteries
Charitable donation requests
Business or investment schemes

Can I get more information about Identity Theft?

View the entire Idaho Attorney General’s Identity Theft manual online. Go to: http://www2.state.id.us/ag/consumer/tips/IdentityTheft.pdf

What if my identity is stolen?

If your identity has been stolen, immediately notify:

Your bank and credit card companies
The credit reporting agencies
Equifax at 1-888-766-0008
Experian at 1-888-397-3742
Transunion at 1-800-680-7289
Your local law enforcement agency
The Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-438-4338
The Social Security Administration if your Social Security card was stolen, call 1-800-772-1213

Be sure to document your calls and make copies of your correspondence when making notifications of identity theft.

By phone, you can call the 2-1-1 Idaho CareLine by dialing 2-1-1 or 1-800-926-2588 to get the contact information of your local police department, sheriff’s office, Consumer Protection Unit, or Better Business Bureau.

You can search for your local police department or sheriff’s office contact information in the 2-1-1 Idaho CareLine online database.
Search by keyword: “Police – Sheriff”, “Consumer Complaints” or “Better Business Bureau”.