identity theft in person
Can someone steal your identity with your id?
Your ID is the most important identification paperwork you have. It includes your birthdate, home address, height, weight, and eye color. When your ID is misplaced, a thief can use your information to steal your identity. With your ID, someone can apply for credit cards, loans, and unemployment benefits. They could open a phone, electricity, or gas account, steal your tax refund, get medical care, and even use your name if they are arrested or otherwise in trouble with the law.
Your ID could be stolen physically or with a photo of your ID. Your identity could also be stolen through data breaches. A thief does not need to have access to your social security number in order to steal your identity. Thieves only need the information off of your ID.
What to do if you have lost your ID?
If you lose your ID, try your hardest to retract your steps. Think about everywhere you went in reverse chronology. It might help to write down everywhere you went and revisit each spot. Get friends to help you find it if you lost it outside, and call any restaurants or other places of business you may have visited. If you have looked everywhere and are absolutely sure your ID is gone, it’s time to take action in getting a new ID.
To receive a new ID you need to contact your DMV. You will have an option to replace your license online or in person. The online system is accessible any time of the day and you do not need an appointment to apply. If you would like to go in person you must make an appointment as soon as possible to get a replacement quickly.
Depending on the state you live in you will need to file a police report detailing how your ID got lost or stolen. Even if your state does not require a police report, it is still a good idea to report your license lost in order to have proof of your lost ID.
After your police report is filed you can go to your DMV’s website and begin filling out a replacement request form. The form will be a few pages long and you will need to know information about yourself that correlates to the records the DMV has on file for you.
Once your paperwork is submitted you will need to pay a replacement fee. The fee is typically no more than $30 depending on your state. Print a copy of your confirmation page and keep it with your records. You will also be able to print a temporary license to carry with you while you wait for your official license to arrive. It usually takes 2-4 weeks to receive your license in the mail. You can also opt to receive your license at your DMV.
What can a scammer do with a picture of my ID and how to stop them?
While a scammer cannot steal your identity with just your name and address, they can use them to gather more information about you, which could lead to a stolen identity. With your name and address, a scammer could look you up on databases to receive access to your phone number, marriage and education records, and employment history. The more detailed information they have, the greater the chance they can open credit cards or bank accounts in your name.
The best way to stop scammers from taking your information is to sign up for an identity theft protection company such as Life Lock by Norton (www.lifelock.com). Lifelock does all the work for you. They monitor your account activity and notify you immediately if they detect any suspicious activity. They will alert you by text, email, phone, or mobile app of any threats to your identity. If you do happen to be a victim of identity theft and you have a subscription with Life Lock their team will help solve the problem.
Is it safe to send a picture of your ID?
You need to be very picky when deciding if you should send a picture of your ID online. Email scams or fishy websites can sometimes be deceiving, so as a general rule do not send your ID online. There are, however, a few instances in which sending a picture of your ID is necessary. Those include:
- Applying for federal loans on secure government websites
- Verifying your identity to sign up to work services, such as Wag or Rover dog walking apps, Uber, or Postmates
- When withdrawing money at a bank
- At hospitals to verify your insurance coverage
- New places of employment so your employer can conduct a background check before offering you a job
The most important thing to keep in mind is why that person or organization needs to verify your identity. If the reason is clear and you trust the website/ organization, then it is safe to send your ID. If you are not comfortable sharing your ID, stick with your gut reaction.
How do you check to see if someone stole your identity?
If your license is stolen or lost it can be easy to realize your identity may be stolen. However, it gets more tricky if your information was exposed in a data breach. Luckily there are warning signs to look out for concerning identity theft.
1 – Check your credit report
The first thing you should do is order a copy of your credit report. You can receive a free downloadable copy of your credit report through Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion every year. Your credit report will show all credit cards, loan accounts, and any bankruptcy or foreclosures in your history. If you see any open credit cards that are not yours you will know someone has stolen your identity.
2 – Your insurance company may contact you
Your insurance company should always be on the lookout for data breaches or other strange behavior on your accounts. In addition, your department of motor vehicles may know if your license has been exposed in a breach.
3 – Receipt of strange notices
If someone is using your identity to apply for unemployment, you may get a notice from the unemployment department detailing unemployment benefits. Similarly, your municipal court may contact you with court dates or traffic violations you may have not committed. If this is the case, you know someone is using your name to stand trial for misdemeanors.
4 – Check your official driving record
Ask your state’s licensing agency for a copy of your driving record. Review your record for any tickets or other suspicious activity. You can receive your driving record for a small fee in most states.
How to File a Police Report for Identity Theft
It is important to file a police report if your personal information was stolen to have a paper trail defending you. The first thing you need to do is get a copy of your Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, Identity Theft Report. The FTC recommends victims of theft to file a report on Identitytheft.gov and provide a copy of your report when filing at the police station. You need the FTC report as another way to document the theft. It will help you establish to the police that you are taking the right steps to resolve the problem. Your FTC report is an official statement detailing the crime.
Once you complete your FTC report, you can take it with you to file your police report. When going to file the report bring a photo ID with you. The police will need to verify your identity with a valid driver’s license, passport, or birth certificate. The police will also ask you for proof of address with a mortgage statement, rental agreement, or utility bill.
You will also need to prove to the police that your identity has been stolen. Provide information as to how you realize your identity was stolen. Gather all relevant documents such as credit card statements, IRS notices, collections notices, or communications that lead you to believe you were a victim of identity theft. Some common ways people realize their identity was stolen are as follows:
- There were charges on your credit card that are invalid or purchases you did not make listed
- The IRS informed you of a tax refund that you did not receive
- You got billed for medical treatments that were not yours
- Your bank account is missing money, or debt collectors have contact you but you have no debt
Once you have filed your report, ask the police for a copy of the report. You will need the report for your records as well as to give to any creditors to help you return to normalcy after being a victim of identity theft.
Why should I file a police report
Filing a police report helps protect you as you move forward in your recovery from identity theft. Your police report helps to prove your innocence and also starts a police investigation into who is stealing your identity.
A police report proves that you were not responsible for any crimes committed while the thief uses your name. This will be especially helpful if the thief is arrested at any point while using your identity. If you are blamed for their crimes, you can show a copy of your police report to prove your innocence.
What happens after I file my police report
After you file your police report, the police will begin an investigation into the identity theft. They will hopefully be able to catch who stole your identity. When you are filing your report, the officer you are working with might give you forms to request account information from credit grantors, utilities, or cell phone companies. These forms will be useful to send to creditors where new accounts were applied for. Write to the creditors and send them the forms and copy of the police report. Once you hear back from the creditor, you can update the officer investigating your case if the creditors have any further information.
As the police are investigating the crime, they may need more information for you as the case continues. They might need to call you or stop by your house or ask you to come into the police station. The police will also give you a notification booklet which includes your case number, contact number, and other important information regarding services for victims. Keep your notification booklet and write your incident number down.
Preventing Future Fraud
Here are our tips on being vigilant with your personal information:
1 – Make your online information private
Make sure your computer has good security software. Do not enter any personal information or login to public computers or servers.
2 – Keep up with your accounts
Log into your bank account every day to keep an eye on your balances. Make sure all transactions are yours. Check your credit report once a year to scan for any suspicious behavior.
3 – Shred documents with private information
Do not keep ATM records, deposit slips and checks for long after you check them with your monthly statement. Put them through a shredder to keep thieves from going through your garbage or recycle bins. Sign up for electronic statements to avoid paper altogether.
4 – Be careful about sharing your information
Do not give your personal information out in calls or emails that you cannot verify. Do not put sensitive information on social media and only give your information to trusted sources
5 – Act quickly
If you do notice anything suspicious, report it straight away. The faster you act the greater the potential is to recover lost assets in identity theft cases.
What to Do If You’re Already a Victim of Fraud or ID theft
If you are a victim of fraud or theft, you need to act quickly in order to make a full recovery. If you have identity theft insurance, file a claim of identity theft immediately. You also need to notify your credit card company and all other companies in which fraudulent transactions have occurred. If someone is impersonating you, make sure to call your health insurance company to ensure they are not getting medical care under your policy.
To protect yourself further, freeze your credit as soon as you can. This will cut off the thief’s access to your credit report. You can freeze your credit for free and you can lift the freeze at any time. Review your report and take note of all suspicious activity.
Make sure all of your accounts are secure. Change your passwords and use different passwords for all of your accounts. Make sure you are not carrying personal information, such as your social security number, in your wallet. When logging into your accounts enable two-factor authentication to make it more difficult for others to get access.
Resources to Get Help Now
The Federal Trade Commission website is the most comprehensive resource when needing support for identity theft. They provide step-by-step directions in order to start your recovery, as well as file complaints, ensure the security of your accounts, and create recovery plans.
Idtheft.gov is another website that gives step-by-step instructions on what victims should do along with sample letters to help them contact the necessary organizations.
You can receive free counseling as an identity theft victim from a nonprofit called Identity Theft Council. You can reach them over the phone to speak to a counselor. Identity Theft Resource Center is another great nonprofit that will give you free advice on what steps to take as a victim of theft. You can call them on the phone or pursue their website for more free resources.
Identity theft is an ever-present threat for most American citizens and those around the world. With numerous cases of identity theft, one of the most famous is that of Michelle Brown.
Michelle Brown was the victim of an 18-month identity theft nightmare beginning with an innocent form and led to her testifying in support of the Identity Theft Prevention Act of 2000. Brown was forced to spend considerable time overcoming this crime and still suffered from its effects long after.
There are many lessons that we all should learn from the case of Michelle Brown, and I have outlined the background to her story as well as those important actions you should take to protect yourself against identity theft.
What caused Michelle Brown to get her identity stolen?
In 1998, Michelle Brown was filling out a rental application in her landlord’s property management office when her name and social security number were stolen by a woman named Heddi Ille. Ille was an acquaintance of the owner of the rental company and used their relationship to steal Brown’s information.
On January 12th of 1998, Brown received a call from Bank of America inquiring over a payment she had supposedly made on a new truck a month prior. Reacting quickly, she put fraud alerts on her credit reports, driver’s license number, and canceled all of her credit cards, but unfortunately, Ille had already acted.
From the moment Ille had Brown’s social security number she used it to obtain a driver’s license in Brown’s name. She set up a cellular service, residential telephone, and utility services, bought a brand new truck, had a liposuction procedure, and signed a year-long lease in Brown’s name. Ille’s crimes reached a peak when she presented herself as Brown in court after she was arrested for trafficking 3,000 pounds of marijuana. Ille was finally arrested in July of 1999, one and a half years after Brown’s identity had been stolen.
After Ille was arrested, Brown’s troubles did not end. The shadow of her tainted record followed her everywhere she went, including being flagged in an airport and questions for an hour after her return from a vacation in Mexico. In order to restore her credit and name, Brown embarked on a 500-hour mission filling out dozens of forms and making thousands of phone calls.
Even after her great effort, Brown was still afraid her name would forever be associated with Ille’s crimes. The inefficiencies she countered in the process of clearing her name made Brown invigorated to limit the chances of another innocent person going through the same ordeal. She testified to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism, and Government Information.
How did Michelle Brown help change US laws about Identity theft?
Michelle Brown testified to support Senator Feinstein’s Identity Theft Prevention Act of 2000. Brown had felt that the current system set in place had failed her in not catching Ille’s fraud, and in the long, arduous process she had to face to clear her name.
The Theft Prevention Act of 2000 made strides to help protect the American public from fraud. As an amendment to the Truth in Lending Act, it obliged a credit card issuer to confirm the cardholder’s change of address and notify the cardholder if a request for additional cards was made. Before the Theft Prevention Act of 2000, there was little regulation regarding the fraud alert procedures consumer reporting agencies had to follow. Now, agencies had to follow standard procedure and required each agency to investigate any discrepancies between information obtained and prior information that was submitted by the original user.
The standardization of theft procedures made it harder for people to commit fraud, and more likely that consumer reporting agencies would catch fraudulent behavior before it spiraled out of control. Brown’s testimony and the publicity of her case helped many people after her. Her case was of such interest that her story became a television drama called Identity Theft: The Michelle Brown Story.
What is the TV drama Michelle Brown’s story about?
Identity Theft: The Michelle Brown Story has a plot that closely resembles the true story of Michelle Brown. In the movie, Michelle buys her first house and submits paperwork to the mortgage lender. One of the employees working for the lending company, Connie, uses Michelle’s credit card and social security number to go on a purchasing spree.
Once Connie’s spending gets out of hand, Michelle starts to suspect her identity was stolen. Before Michelle can act, however, Connie gets arrested for attempting to traffic marijuana. When Connie is finally caught for fraud, she is arrested and sentenced to two years in prison. Michelle goes on to testify in front of the U.S. Congress, causing a great reform in American laws to increase regulations against identity theft.
Tips for preventing ID Theft
Everyone must be proactive in preventing identity theft. There are a few ways to protect yourself and decrease your chances of being a victim:
1 – Enroll with an Identity Theft Protection Company.
A theft protection service will alert you quickly if there is any suspicious activity on your accounts. An immediate notification will help you recover your assets quickly. Life Lock by Norton is a service that will alert you by text, email, phone, and mobile app if a threat to your identity is detected. They also have a defensive strategy; a VPN that helps keep online activity private. If one of their users does become a victim of identity theft, their agents will work to help the user as well as reimburse them up to the limit of their plan.
2 – Be smart about your Social Security Number
Do not carry your SSN in your wallet or have it in digital files. Be wary of who and when you are giving your SSN out to and only give it when absolutely necessary. The same goes for sharing other personal information like birth date and bank account number.
3 – Be aware of of your Mail
Collect your mail daily. If you are going on vacation or will be gone for several days, place a hold on your mail to keep it from falling into the wrong hands.
4 – Change your passwords
Use complicated passwords and do not use the same password for all accounts. Update your passwords frequently and avoid predictable numbers like birthdays.
5 – Review your information regularly
Look through your credit card and bank statements. Keep receipts and compare them with your account statement. View your credit report at least once a year. Make sure they don’t include accounts that have not been opened by you.
What to do if you are a victim of identity theft
If you see any suspicious activity on your accounts, freeze your credit files immediately. Card freezes prevent others from applying for credit accounts in your name. Contact your credit card company and let them know of the fraudulent behavior.
Identitytheft.gov is the federal government’s resource for identity theft victims. The website provides a checklist and sample letters of how to correctly go through the government’s recovery process for your assets.
How to recover from being the victim of identity theft
To start the recovery process immediately, file a complaint and affidavit with the Federal Trade Commission. Filing out a report on their website will help you dispute fraudulent transactions that were listed on your credit report and allow you to get your money back.
The next step is to file a police report. Your local office report should include the accounts compromised and a copy of your Federal Trade Commission complaint form. These documents together will be vital in helping you dispute the fraudulent activity on your accounts.
To start clean it is important to get a new driver’s license number. You can take your paperwork to your Department of Motor Vehicles and request a new number. After your information has changed, go forward with vigilance. Be careful in guarding your personal information and always be wary of who has access to it.