Grundy County

Official Website of Grundy County Government Offices

What is the Identity Theft, how do I protect myself from it, and what do I do if I am a victim?

Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the nation today. You may be a victim of identity theft and not even know it.

With the computer age upon us, there are hundreds of databases that collect and retain personal information about you. That information could include your buying habits, lifestyle activities, social security and driver’s license numbers, date of birth, phone number, home address, and profession.

Most information collected from you is collected legitimately, from grocery stores, magazine subscriptions, buying habits gleaned from credit card purchases, insurance carriers and doctor’s offices. However, sometimes criminals gain access to this information.

Another method of information gathering is much darker. Dumpster Divers check your mailbox and your garbage for credit card statements, bill receipts, and other documents that may give them information on your credit or banking information.

Prevention is Key

Some ways to prevent yourself from becoming a victim at home are to: destroy all incoming mail, paid bill attachments, receipts, bank/credit card statements, etc. that have your name, address and/or personal information on them.

Take your mail to the post office or put it in your mailbox right before the mail carrier comes. Do not put your social security number on your driver’s license, and don’t carry your social security card, passport, or birth certificate unless it is absolutely necessary.

If someone calls you and offers you the chance to receive a credit card, “grand prize,” or anything else valuable DO NOT give them any information. Instead, ask them to send you written verification.

If they won’t, hang up.

Keep a complete list of all your account numbers in a safe place and don’t forget to include the phone numbers for customer service.

Watch the dates when your credit card bills usually arrive. If your bill does not arrive by the date you expect it to arrive, contact the credit card company to make sure no one has changed your billing address.

With computers, it is sometimes impossible to tell what is valid or invalid. Just make a habit of deleting emails from unknown persons or companies. Also, you should order only from companies that have “safe” websites.

A safe website has “https” in the address bar and a padlock symbol at the bottom of the browser window. Be sure to keep your virus protection updates and have software for “cookie” or tracking device removal.

When traveling, stop all mail, newspapers, and other recurring deliveries. Don’t give out any personal information unless you know and trust the person; i.e. hotel, car rental, etc. Use a secure (where no one can overhear you) location in the event you need to give out any personal information.

Check Your Credit Report

Beginning March 1, 2005, all Illinoisans can receive free copies of their credit reports once a year from each of the three national credit reporting agencies. The annual free reports are available only through the centralized source set up by the three credit reporting agencies. If consumers contact the companies directly they will still be charged for their credit reports.

To obtain the free reports, consumers can:
Call 1-877-322-8228
Order online at www.annualcreditreport.com
Complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form available at www.ftc.gov/credit, and mail it to:

Annual Credit Reports Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281