Each year, identity theft – one of the fastest growing crimes in
the nation – harms thousands of consumers throughout Los Angeles
County. Ultimately, the identity thief aims to obtain personal
information about you – your Social Security number, birth name,
credit card numbers, or birth date. With this information, the
identity thief can assume your identity and establish bank accounts
or credit in your name, leaving you to deal with the fallout.
Identity thieves also can pose as you in the commission of a crime,
perhaps leaving you with a false criminal record.
The District Attorney’s Office is committed to protecting the
community from identity theft and prosecuting those responsible for
this crime. As with all types of fraud, however, the most effective
protection is a consumer’s own awareness and vigilance. The
following information explains how to
Prevent Identity Theft
Solutions For Victims.
New California laws offer help for victims of identity theft. As
with all types of fraud, however, the most effective protection is a
consumer’s own awareness and vigilance.
Criminals can only assume your identity if they have access to
your personal information. Be careful when you disclose any personal
facts, and keep in mind the following tips:
Never give anyone a credit card number or related information
over the phone unless you initiated the call or are dealing with
someone you know. Similarly, avoid confirming such
information to a stranger on the telephone.
When using an ATM or public telephone, shield the viewing
screen or keypad so that others cannot read your Personal
Identification Number (PIN).
- Do not carry your Social Security number, birth certificate,
passport, or extra credit cards with you.
- Do not write your Social Security number or credit card
numbers on checks. The Social Security number is a prime target of
criminals and provides them with the key to unlock a variety of
- Order a copy of your credit report once a year from the three
major credit bureaus – Experian (formerly TRW), Equifax, and Trans
Union (See Contact Information).
Check for false charges that may indicate fraud. Credit report
order fees range from $8.
- Shred all documents containing account numbers or other
personal information before disposing of them. Bank and other
financial statements, ATM and credit card receipts, and
pre-approved credit offers are among criminals’ favorite sources
- Finally, keep a list of all credit card account numbers and
expiration dates so that you can contact creditors quickly.
Most importantly, remember that personal information about you –
your Social Security number, account numbers, maiden name, and PIN
numbers – is the key to your identity. In the wrong hands, such
information can be used at your expense.
SOLUTIONS FOR VICTIMS
If you believe somebody has stolen your identity, California law
entitles you to relief. Your local police agency – or the agency
where the crime took place – must take a police report from you, and
must provide you with a copy of that report to help clear your name.
In cases of imposters creating false criminal histories for innocent
victims, the law provides a system for clearing your good name and
correcting state criminal history records.
The following steps will help you block negative information
resulting from fraud and reclaim control over your credit and
criminal history records:
Financial Identity Theft
- Gather as much information as you can about disputed credit
data or other indications of identity theft.
- Immediately close all your credit card accounts and notify the
banks of the theft.
- Report the alleged crime to your local police or sheriff’s
department and ask the officer to write a police report of the
- Ask for a copy of the police report and make photocopies.
- Send a copy of the police report, with a letter of
explanation, to each of the three major credit bureaus: Experian
(formerly TRW), Equifax, and Trans Union (See
Contact Information). Once the credit bureaus receive a
copy of the police report, California law requires them to block
negative credit information resulting from the alleged fraud.
- Continue to ask for copies of your credit reports regularly
for at least several months to check for any new fraudulent
- If your Social Security number was used fraudulently, report
the problem to the Social Security Administration’s Fraud Hotline
at (800) 269-0271.
Criminal Identity Theft
If you believe your identifying information was used to create an
erroneous criminal history, contact the California Department of
Justice at (888) 880-0240. Provide the Department of Justice with a
copy of the police report and other supporting information.
Consult a lawyer to determine if you should go to court to use
the new procedures now available for obtaining a judge’s order
indicating that you are innocent of the criminal identity theft at
Major credit bureaus:
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Experian (formerly TRW)
P.O. Box 1017
Allen, TX 75013-1017
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
Los Angeles County Department of Consumer Affairs
Consumer Protection Division,
Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office
High Tech Crime Division
Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office