Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information, like your name, Social Security number, or credit card, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.
As many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. In fact, you or someone you know may have experienced some form of identity theft. The crime takes many forms. Identity thieves may rent and apartment, obtain a credit card, or establish a telephone account in your name. You may not find out about the theft until you review your credit report or a credit card statement and notice charges you didn’t make or until you are contacted by a debt collector or applying for a loan.
Identity theft is serious. While some victims can resolve their problems quickly, others spend hundreds of dollars and many days repairing damage to their good name and credit record. Some consumers victimized by identity theft may lose out on job opportunities or be denied loans for education, housing or cars because of negative information on their credit reports.
The Pleasanton Police Department investigates cases of identity theft where goods or services were obtained within the city limits of Pleasanton. If your information is used elsewhere, we will take reports for Pleasanton residents and forward the follow-up investigation to the jurisdiction(s) where your information was compromised and/or used. It is the responsibility of the other law enforcement agencies to investigate identity theft that occurs within their jurisdictions.
The Federal Trade Commission has developed a comprehensive and in depth web site related to Identity Theft information and resources. The web site is available in both English and Spanish. If you do not see a quick answer to your question below, please visit the FTC Identity Theft website by clicking on the logo.
Place a fraud alert or security freeze on your credit report. This can help prevent an identity thief from opening any more accounts in your name. Call the toll free number of any of the three consumer reporting companies below or visit their websites to place a fraud alert or security freeze on your credit report. You only need to contact one as they are required to contact the other two to share the information. If you do not receive a confirmation from a company, you should contact that company directly to place a fraud alert.
Contact all creditors immediately with whom your name/information has been used fraudulently. Get replacement cards with new account numbers for your accounts that have been used fraudulently. Carefully monitor your mail, credit card bills and your credit report for evidence of new fraudulent activity.
If you have had checks stolen or bank accounts set up fraudulently, report it to your financial institution immediately. Put stop payments on any outstanding checks that you are unsure of. Have the bank cancel your checking and savings accounts and obtain new account numbers. Give the bank a secret password for your account (not your mother's maiden name).
If your ATM/Debit card has been stolen or compromised, get a new card, account number and password. Do not use your old password. When creating a password, don't use common numbers like the last four digits of your social security number or your birthday. Passwords that combine letters and numbers are more secure than a name or just a number.
Fraudulent Change of Address
Notify the Postal Inspector if you suspect an identity thief has filed a change of address with the post office or has used the mail to commit credit or bank fraud. Find out where fraudulent credit cards were sent. Notify the local Postmaster for that address to forward all mail in your name to your own address.
Secret Service Jurisdiction
The Secret Service has jurisdiction over financial fraud, but it usually does not investigate individual cases unless the dollar amount is high or you are one of many victims of a fraud ring. The fraud department of the credit card companies and/or banks, as well as the police investigator will notify Secret Service when necessary.
Social Security Number Misuse
Call the Social Security Administration to report fraudulent use of your social security number. As a last resort, you might consider asking for a new number. The SSA may issue you a new number if after trying to resolve the problems brought on by identity theft, you continue to experience problems. This option can create other problems and should be carefully considered. Also order a copy of your Earnings and Benefits Statement and check it for accuracy.
If you have a passport, notify the passport office in writing to be on the lookout for anyone ordering a new passport fraudulently.
Drivers License Misuse
You may need to change your driver's license number if someone is using yours as identification on bad checks. Call the state office of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to see if another license was issued in your name. Put a fraud alert on your license. Go to your local DMV to request a new number. Also, fill out the DMV's complaint form to begin the fraud investigation process. Send supporting documents with the completed form to the nearest DMV investigation office.
False Civil and Criminal Judgments
Sometimes, victims of identity theft are wrongfully accused of crimes committed by the imposter. If a civil judgment has been entered in your name for actions taken by your imposter, contact the court where the judgment was entered and report that you are a victim of identity theft. If you are wrongfully prosecuted for criminal charges, contact the state Department of Justice and the FBI. Ask how to clear your name.
You may want to consult an attorney to determine legal action to take against creditors and/or credit bureaus if they are not cooperative in removing fraudulent entries from your credit report or if negligence is a factor. Call the local Bar Association to find an attorney who specializes in consumer law and the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Don't Give In
Finally, do not pay any bill or portion of a bill that is a result of identity theft. Do not cover any checks that were written and/or cashed fraudulently. Your credit rating should not be permanently affected, and no legal action should be taken against you. If any merchant, financial institution or collection agency suggests otherwise, simply restate your willingness to cooperate, but don't allow yourself to be coerced into paying fraudulent bills.