Reporting identity theft at the right time is essential as it is a growing crime these days. Thousands of victims around the globe, have been facing too many losses may it be on the financial front or on the emotional front. The criminal could be a member of our family or a close friend or someone who knows all the details of our credentials. Here are two cases shared with you that may help you or someone else in preventing this crime to take place. Have a look at the following case:
Lance Ealy, a resident of Dayton, acquired personal information of various people on the internet. He acquired the identities of people illegally between January 2013 and October 2013. His main target was elderly and physically disabled people who are more vulnerable. Using these identities, he opened several bank accounts at different financial institutions.
Then, he filed fraudulent income tax returns using these bank accounts so that the fraudulent tax refunds can be directly deposited into these accounts. He even filed approximately 150 federal income tax returns. Eventually, he was caught and imprisoned for 124 months along with 3 years of supervised release and was ordered to pay $61,000 in restitution on Nov. 23, 2015.
A similar incident happened recently. Francois Toure, a resident of Reynoldsburg, Ohio committed credit card fraud. He acquired personal information (including credit card information) of various individuals on the internet along with his conspirators. He used the information to file fraudulent income tax returns. He opened new bank accounts using these identities in which the tax refunds were deposited.
He re-encoded the magnetic strips of prepaid/gift cards using an encoding device. These re-encoded cards were a replica of the stolen credit cards. He was arrested ultimately with an imprisonment of 60 months and 5 years of supervised release. He was ordered to pay $2,087,855 in restitution on May 24, 2016.
These incidents give us one candid advice that reporting of identity fraud incident at the right time is very important to notify the authorities so that appropriate actions can be taken as soon as possible. In order to save you from such threats, we have listed some very crucial measures that can help you to take precautions after you have been a victim of identity theft:
1. Report the case to the FTC
After you discover that you are an identity theft victim, first of all, you should report the case to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), an agency for consumer protection for the citizens of USA. Informing the authorities is essential so that proper measures can be taken by them to resolve the case. They will guide you about what can be done next related to the case.
2. Report the case to the local police department
It is equally important to alert the police authorities along with the FTC. Keep a copy of the police report with you and ensure that you retain the report number given by the police.
3. Lock the hacked account
The account (social media/bank) which was hacked/accessed should be closed as soon as possible to prevent further damage. Contact your bank to lock the bank account. In the case of credit/debit card theft, ask the bank/company to block the card immediately and re-issue a new card.
4. Examine your previous bank statements
Go through your old statements thoroughly. There could be other charges present which you might not know about. Check all your accounts even those which you don’t use regularly. If you find anything inappropriate, alert the authorities immediately.
5. Register for credit monitoring services, if provided
There are some companies which offer free credit monitoring services to the victims of identity theft. These companies keep an eye on your account so that no unauthorised transaction takes place.
6. Password management
You should regularly update your passwords and pin for all your accounts. Using strong passwords is a must which consists of at least 8 characters which comprise of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Also, try to use different passwords for different accounts.
For the purpose of reporting any kind of identity theft crime, the government has made many organisations where strict actions are taken against the identity thieves. The various organisations you can contact to report identity theft and take assistance regarding it, are:
• Identity Theft Resource Centre (ITRC)-
It is a respected organisation developed to address the issues related to identity theft. It provides information for prevention of identity theft. It also assists victims of identity theft.
• Internal Revenue Service (IRS)-
If there is fraud related to tax filing and other violations related to taxes, contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
• Identity Theft Assistance Centre (ITAC)-
It provides free service to the customers of identity theft. It has assisted many customers to re-establish their identity.
• Fraud Watch International-
It is an organisation which helps individuals by providing them information about identity theft. It informs people about identity theft prevention measures which can be taken and what can be done if you become an ID theft victim.
• Identity Management Standards Panel-
The objectives of Identity Management Standards Panel are to help the individuals and government regarding identity theft cases.
• Office for Victims of Crime (OVC)-
It consists of various policies so as to provide justice to the identity theft victims.
• Social Security Administration-
In case your Social Security Number (SSN) is stolen, contact the Social Security Administration immediately.
• Privacy Rights Clearinghouse –
It emphasises on digital protection. It informs people about the adverse effects of technology if not used in a correct manner. It guides people to take appropriate steps to protect their personal information.
• Postal Inspection Service-
Contact your nearest Postal Inspection Service office in case of theft related to emails. Inform the office about the fraudulent activities committed by the identity thief.
Identity theft is a very common crime these days. Instantaneous prevention is always better. Always follow the identity theft protection measures. In case, it happens to you, be sure to take appropriate steps to resolve it before it causes more losses. Addressing identity theft is very crucial so that proper measure can be taken by the various institutions regarding the case.