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Reduce Damage from Identity Theft and Other Scams

Post Date:03/09/2018 1:00 PM
In 2015, 13.1 million U.S. citizens were victims of fraud. In 2016, the number increased to 15.4 million, and 2017 saw a record high of 16.7 billion victims. Compromised social security numbers were involved in 35% of the cases in 2017. 

If you believe have been the victim of a fraud such as a scam or identity theft, or if you believe your financial data has been compromised, here are a few of the steps you can take to mitigate the damage:
  • Contact your tax preparer (if you have one), your financial institutions, and any agency with whom you have a financial relationship to file a fraud alert and request additional security measures, such as a PIN or security questions.
  • Place an initial ninety-day "fraud alert" on your credit files with the major credit bureaus. Fraud alerts are available at no charge and tell creditors to contact you before they open any new accounts. To place a fraud alert, call any one of the major credit bureaus at the numbers listed below. As soon as one credit bureau confirms your fraud alert, they will notify the others:
    • TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
    • Experian: 1-888-397-3742
    • Equifax: 1-866-349-5191
  • Consider requesting that a "security freeze" be placed on your credit file. A security freeze prohibits, with certain exceptions, the major credit bureaus from releasing your credit report or any information from it without your express authorization. 
  • Obtain a free credit report from You can order a free report from each of the three credit reporting agencies once a year. It is recommended that you make your requests in January, May, and September to stagger your credit report monitoring throughout the year.
As always, use extreme caution when giving out your social security number, credit card numbers, or any other financial data. Never give money, your financial information, or access to your computer or mobile device to a stranger. Scammers will pretend to be people you love, an authority figure, someone in need, or someone with a deal that's too good to be true. If a request comes by way of email, pick up the phone and call the person who is supposedly making the request. If you get a call or email that claims to be from your bank, contact the bank directly by phone using a number that you know is legitimate. Never send financial data via email.

Lastly, don't believe anyone who calls and says you'll be arrested unless you pay taxes or debt, even if they have part or all of your Social Security number or they say they're from the IRS. If this happens, please contact the Sausalito Police Department at (415) 289-4170.
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