Kokomo Cybercrime Unit Offers A Way To Fight Back

Reports of identity theft continue to increase, and the Kokomo Police Department has some tips if you find yourself a victim of identity theft and to prevent yourself from becoming a victim in the first place.

The first tip, if you find yourself a victim of identity theft, might seem the simplest, but it is to file a complaint with three different agencies, starting with local law enforcement.

“It documents that you have had an incident so when you do try to repair your credit and deal with credit card companies and things like that you can refer back to the case number,” said Chris Smith, captain over Community Relations at KPD.

Secondly, file a complaint with the state.

“You can also file a complaint with the Indiana Attorney General’s office,” said Smith. “It is another way of documenting the complaint, and they can help you with victim assistance and also some way to help prosecute. They have resources to help victims with identity theft. Also they have a really good website: indianaconsumer.com. It is a pretty good resource. You can also file a complaint with that. There is also a link to get your free credit report, and we can go into that to.”

The third is with the federal government.

“You can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission,” said Smith. “These are the things that we recommend doing. Basically they maintain a confidential national database on identity theft complaints, and they track complaints and count them and things like that. It is basically more of a tracking thing with the FTC.”

The next tip is to file a complaint with one of the three major credit bureaus.

“If you contact one, they will notify the other two,” said Smith. “You can have a fraud alert placed on your account. You can also put a security freeze on your credit report, too. Basically that is an Indiana law that can block identity thief from opening a new account and obtaining credit in your name. The good thing is it freezes your credit, but you may to have to unfreeze it if you want to apply for credit for some kind of purchase or something like that. We also recommend you review your credit report on an annual basis. You get one free credit report annually with each of the credit bureaus. Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. How we recommend doing that is instead of getting them all at one time get them quarterly so you are spread out through the year. That way you can better capture any changes or irregularities in your credit report.”

Smith said when checking your credit report use the link from the indianaconsumer.com website because there are some companies that try to charge for credit reports.

Smith also said it is important to monitor your utilities.

“Also we recommend checking your utility bills closely too,” said Smith. “We have had instances where people would open a utility account in someone’s name and get some of their information and when it comes time to get the bill a lot of times these people move on to another residence and you are stuck with the bill.”

In the down economy, as people are looking for jobs, it is also important to be careful.

“In Indianapolis one person filled out an employment application at a motel and the person behind the desk was a criminal,” said Smith. “They just made a copy of their employment application and that is where it all started from. You just have to be careful and monitor your receipts and all of your utility bills. You have to be cautiously guarded in everything nowadays.”

Smith also said to be cautious about how you mail items.

“Sometimes the red flag on your mailbox flipped up is an invitation for somebody to come and rifle through there and see if there is anything worth taking,” said Smith.

In 2009 Indiana was ranked 30th for the number of identity thefts per thousand population.

In Kokomo from January 2010 to Feb. 24, 2011, there were 30 identity theft reports completed. Sometimes part of identity theft is credit card fraud. Kokomo had 69 of those reports during that same time.

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