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Identity Theft


If your purse or wallet have been lost or stolen, the Department of Public Safety wishes to assist you in every way possible. Since your purse/wallet contains various items of personal identification, credit cards, and checks, you are at risk for criminal victimization through personal identity theft. Personal identity theft sometimes begins with a lost or stolen purse or wallet.

Personal identity theft is the unauthorized use of another person's personal identifying information to: obtain credit, goods, services, money, or property; or commit a felony or misdemeanor.

Personal identifying information means a person's name, address, telephone number, driver's license number, social security number, place of employment, employee identification number, mother's maiden name, demand deposit account number, savings or checking account number, or credit card number.

Document everything! Purchase a large notebook and begin by making notations about the date, time, location, and other important information regarding the loss of your belongings.

Be thorough. It is likely that you will need to make several telephone calls to protect yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft. For each call, record the date, time, telephone number, person's name, purpose of call, what was accomplished, what follow-up is needed, and other relevant notes. Also, write down any questions you asked and the answers received.

Keep copies of all letters you write and all forms you submit. Mail everything by certified mail. Keep these records in a safe place. Be consistent and methodical, and take action immediately! Begin by contacting all three credit report bureaus.

Contact the three major credit bureaus: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Request that a fraud alert be place on your file immediately. You will be assigned a reference or confirmation number to use in future communications. Your name and address will be removed from pre-screened mailing lists for a length of time specified by each credit bureau. Each credit bureau is different, so follow their instructions explicitly. They may ask you to write a letter and enclose copies of three pieces of identification before they mail your report. Be sure to ask how long the alert will be in effect and how to extend it, if necessary.

EQUIFAX
1-888-766-0008

EXPERIAN
1-888-397-3742

TRANSUNION
1-888-909-8872

Order a copy of your credit report from each of the credit bureaus every three to six months for the first year. After the first year, order copies semi-annually or at least annually. Remember, if the person(s) who stole your identity has not been apprehended and/or your belongings have not been recovered, your identity still remains in their possession and you are subject to future victimization. Or, your impostor may have sold your information to someone else who may attempt to use it at some later date.

  • Report the loss to your bank or credit card company.  
  • Close all accounts.
  • Open new accounts and use new passwords/PINs. Do NOT use your old password. 
  • Act quickly to ensure that you are not held liable for any fraudulent funds obtained. 

Credit Card Companies

  • Cancel the associated accounts immediately. 
  • Notify your bank of the number and payee on the last check you wrote. 
  • Place "stop payments" on the remaining checks. 
  • Ask your bank to notify the check verification company they use. Here is a list of some of these companies: 
  • It may be necessary for YOU to contact the major check verification companies. If so, request each company to notify retailers in their database to not accept the lost checks. 

Apply for a replacement at a Secretary of State branch office. Identification documents are required to issue a replacement license, such as a certified birth certificate, US or Canadian passport, marriage license or photo identification cards issued by a Michigan governmental agency. Contact a Secretary of State branch office for a complete list of acceptable documents and specific requirements. Please be aware that photocopies and facsimiles are not adequate proof. Only original documents will be accepted. 

Put an alert on your driver's license. The purpose of an alert on a driver's license is to limit the chance that someone will use your name in traffic stops or criminal investigations. The alert will notify law enforcement officers that someone may be using your name and that sufficient identification should be checked whenever your name and date of birth are used during a traffic stop or criminal investigation. 

The alert is NOT available on state identification cards and will only be placed on VALID Michigan driver's licenses. The address used on the alert form MUST match the address on your driver's license.

Use this Michigan Secretary of State form to request the alert 

  1. Complete the area for the reason you would like the alert on your driver's license. Please be specific. 
  2. You must sign and print your name. 
  3. You must include your driver's license number, date of birth, address and daytime phone number (including area code). 
  4. This form may be submitted by mail to the address listed on the form or by fax. If mailing, use certified mail. If faxing, keep a copy of the fax confirmation. 

Once the alert is placed on your driver's license: 

  1. A letter will be sent to you. It is important that you keep the letter with you to show as a piece of identification if you are involved in a traffic stop or criminal investigation. 
  2. The alert will stay on your record for seven years. If you are still having problems with someone using your name in traffic stops or criminal investigations after seven years, you may request another alert. 

Change the locks on your home and car if your keys were lost. 

Remember, if someone finds your keys in conjunction with your personal information, they have both your address and access to your residence. 

Contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 to request a replacement card. 

If you suspect that someone is using your social security number to obtain employment, contact the Social Security Administration's fraud hotline at 1-800-269-0271.  

Order a copy of your Personal Earnings and Benefit Estimate Statement (PEBES) to check the accuracy of your work history on file with the Social Security Administration. You can obtain a PEBES application at your local Social Security office. 

For a passport issued by the United States, notify the US Department of State. 

For passports issued by a country other than the United States, contact the local Embassy or consular section for the country of your citizenship. Most countries have websites with contact information. 

If you suspect that you have been the victim of identity theft, file a report with the Federal Trade Commission. 

File a report online or by calling 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338)

  • Never give out identifying information in response to unsolicited offers by phone, mail, internet or in person, unless you initiate the contact. 
  • Order & review your credit report yearly. Order online at www.annualcreditreport.com.
  • Review financial and credit card statements at least monthly for unauthorized activity. 
  • Shred or tear up discarded paperwork containing personal identifiers (receipts, insurance forms, bank and credit card statements, cash advance checks) before discarding. 
  • Be aware of where your personal identification is kept and who has access to it. 
  • Protect your wallet/purse and don't leave them unattended. 
  • Limit the number of credit cards carried, and don't carry your PIN in your wallet/purse. 
  • Don't carry your social security card in your wallet/purse. 
  • Treat checkbooks, ATM cards, credit cards and credit card offers as if they were cash. 

Online Security

  • When using the internet to make purchases, look for the "s" in the address (https) to ensure a secure site. 
  • Use strong passwords with at least 8 characters, including a mix of letters, numbers and symbols. Commit them to memory or use a password manager. Do not write your passwords down. 
  • Don't overshare personal information on social media. Set your privacy to the highest settings. 
  • Use firewall, virus and spyware protection software and update it regularly on your computers and electronic devices. 
  • Don't click on links in emails from a sender you don't recognize. 
  • If you receive an email asking for personal information, don't click on any links in the email. Type the company name in a web browser, go to their website and contact them through customer service instead to verify the request. 
  • Watch for shoulder surfers and shield the keyboard when entering a PIN or password. 
  • Be extra cautious when you are on an unsecured or shared wireless network. Add a password to your personal wireless network. 
  • Wipe computers and devices clean of all information before you dispose of or sell them. 

If you have any additional questions, or if you believe you may be a victim of identity theft, please contact the Grand Valley Police Department for additional instructions.