Columbus, Georgia                    
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Directions to Public Safety
On The Rise
For all of 2005, the Department of Justice reported a total of 226 identity theft criminal cases. While the first half of 2006 saw 432 such cases.
ID Theft in GA
According to FTC data, in 2006, Georgia was the 7th most victimized state, per population percentage (with 86.3 victims per 100,000 residents).
SSN Questions
Before giving anyone your SSN ask him or her the following questions:

1.  Why do you need my SSN?

2.  How will it be used?

3.  How do you protect it from being stolen?

4.  What if I don't give it to you?
Card Do's
• Sign you cards as soon as they arrive

• Carry cards separately from wallet

• Keep records of card numbers and expiration in a secure place

• Keep you eye on your card during a transaction

• Void incorrect receipt

• Destroy carbons

• Save receipts to compare with billing

• Open bills Promptly

• Report questionable charges promptly

• Notify card companies in advance of a change of address
Card Don'ts
• Lend out your card

• Leave cards lying around

• Sign a blank receipt

• Give out account numbers, PINs or passwords

• Give out card number phone, unless you contacted them
Credit Bureaus Contact Information
Equifax Experian Trans Union
To order a report:
or write to:
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
To report fraud:
or write to:
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
To order a report:
or write to:
P.O. Box 949
Allen, TX 75013-0949
To report fraud:
or write to:
P.O. Box 949
Allen, TX 75013-0949
To order a report:
or write to:
P.O. Box 1000
Chester, PA 19022
To report fraud:
or write to:
Fraud Victim Assistance Division
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834

How Identity Theft Works

Identity thieves use a variety of ways to gain access to your personal information. Some of the most frequently used ways include:

  • Stealing your wallet or purse.
  • Using e-mail or phone scams, such as phishing or pretexting.
  • Stealing a pre-approved credit card from your mailbox, to go on a shopping spree. To opt out of pre-screened credit card offers, call 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688).
  • They may have access to your information through where they work.
  • They may steal credit and debit card information through a process known as skimming.
  • Rummaging through your trash, in a practice known as dumpster diving.
  • Complete a change of address form to divert your mail to another address.
After the thieves have gained access to your information, they may do one or more of the following:
  • Open new credit card accounts in your name. Which they will use and never pay and that information will be recorded on your credit report.
  • Use counterfeit checks or your credit or debit card to drain your bank account, cash transfers.
  • Give your name to the police during an arrest. When they don't appear for court a warrant will be issued in your name.
  • Charge or purchase items until there is no money left in your account(s).
Minimizing the Risk of Identity Theft
  • When setting a credit or debit card password don't use easily available information such as your birth date, last four digits of your phone number or social security number or a series of consecutive number (example 4567).
  • Keep birth certificates, social security cards and financial information in a safe and secure area.
  • Ask companies, that you give your personal information, who has access to the information, what information security measures they use, if they will share any of your information with anyone else and ask about their information disposal procedures.
  • Don't give out personal information over the phone, the mail or the internet unless you initiated the contact.
  • Deposit your outgoing mail in a post office collection box or at your local post office, rather than in an unsecured mailbox.
  • If you are out of town, ask someone you trust to collect your mail or call the post office and have them hold your mail until you get back in town.
  • Tear or shred all documents with personal or financial information before throwing them in the trash.
  • If your wallet or purse is stolen, immediately contact your credit and debit card issuers and the Columbus Police, (706) 653-3000.
  • When checking e-mail, never open e-mails from people you don't know. These e-mails could contain viruses that could lead to comprising the security of data on the computer.
  • When disposing of a computer use a "wipe" program to completely remove all information from the computer. Manually deleting or formatting the computer will not erase all the information.
  • Make online purchases rarely, and when making an online purchase look for indicators that the site is secure. Two indicators are the (lock) icon on the browser's status bar at the bottom of the screen and a URL address that begins with https: (the "s" stands for secure).
Are You a Victim?

The following is a checklist of ways to monitor your financial accounts to determine whether or not you are a victim of identity theft.
  • Order a copy of your credit report, if new accounts have been opened they will be shown on this report. You can receive one free credit report per year by visiting or calling 1-877-322-8228.
  • Failing to receive bills or other mail.
  • Denial of credit for no apparent reason.
  • Receiving calls from debt collectors about merchandise you didn't purchase.
If You Are a Victim

If you are a victim of identity theft, complete the following four steps as soon as possible. Keep records of all your conversations and correspondence. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also has a publication, Take Charge: Fighting Back Against Identity Theft that describes what to do if you are a victim of identity theft.
  • Place a fraud alert on your credit reports, and review your credit reports. To place a fraud alert on your credit report call one of the credit bureaus listed at the top of this page..
  • Close all accounts you believe are fraudulent. Ask your financial institution about the process for disputing charges; also notify the companies where the fraudulent charges were made.
  • File a report with the Columbus Police.
  • File a complaint with the FTC. Contact the FTC by visiting or call 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338).