The Eden Prairie Police Department urges residents to be on the alert for identity theft, a major criminal problem that can unknowingly wipe out an individual’s savings or checking account or make a negative impact on one’s credit rating. Identity theft involves attaining someone’s identifying information with the intent to impersonate them. Your name, address, date of birth, social security number or mother’s maiden name are all forms of identifying information.
Identity thieves use this information to commit fraud, including opening bank accounts in the victim’s name, buying cars, applying for loans and securing social security benefits.
The following are suggestions for helping to prevent identity theft:
- Remove mail from your mailbox promptly.
- Send outgoing mail through post office collection boxes or at the local post office.
- Do not have your bank send new checks to your home address. Tell the bank that you prefer to pick them up.
- Check credit card receipts against monthly bills.
- Shred credit card applications, receipts, bills and other financial information before discarding.
- Don't carry your Social Security card or birth certificate with you – leave them in a secure location.
- Keep a list of all your credit card accounts and bank accounts in a secure place so you can quickly call the issuers to inform them about missing or stolen cards.
- Limit the number of credit cards you have and cancel any inactive accounts.
- Never give any credit card, bank or Social Security information to anyone by telephone, even if you made the call, unless you can positively verify that the call is legitimate.
- Avoid using easily available information for passwords such as mother's maiden name or family member birthdates.
- Beware of "phishing" scams. Scam artists "phish" for victims by pretending to be banks, stores, or government agencies. They do this over the phone, in emails and in the U.S. mail. Don't give out your personal information. Don't respond to a request to verify your account number or password. Legitimate companies do not request this kind of information in this way.
- Online: annualcreditreport.com
- By telephone: 1-877-322-8228
- By mail:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
The general public is encouraged to do this to help catch any fraud which may be occurring without their knowledge. The sooner fraud is stopped, the dollar loss should be less and everyone will gain from this.
Minnesota Identity Theft Freeze Law
Minnesota residents can take control of their credit reports kept by the Credit Bureaus. For a fee of $5, information on the credit reports will not be released to anyone without authorization of the person. An additional fee of $5 would be paid to "unblock" the freeze and release the information to the chosen party. If you have been the victim of identity theft you may have your credit reports locked without charge.
Additional information on this Minnesota law can be found here: Minnesota Attorney General website.
Identity theft victims must call the police department in the city where the theft occurred; however if it is not known where the theft occurred, identity theft reports can be filed with the city in which you live.