Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Identity theft awareness

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27th Special Operations Wing Judge Advocate

Identity theft is a serious crime that can cause problems in various aspects of your life, including finances, credit history and reputation.

Identity theft occurs when someone uses someone else’s personal data without that person’s permission, typically for financial gain.

Thieves can steal identifying information in many ways, including: going through trash cans and dumpsters to steal credit card or bank statements, as well as other documents that have sensitive information; working for businesses, such as medical offices or government agencies and stealing personal data at work; and falsely using the name of a legitimate business and calling or emailing you to trick you into providing personal information.

Recently, the internet has become a common place for criminals to try to obtain identifying information through spam e-mail. There are many ways to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft.

Military members can put an active-duty alert on credit reports if they are deployed and do not expect to apply for new credit. With an active-duty alert on file, creditors must take certain steps to verify a service member’s identity prior to granting credit in his or her name.

When the fraud department of a credit reporting company such as Equifax, Experian or TransUnion is contacted to activate an active-duty alert by a military member, that company must contact the other two agencies regarding the notification.

Service members on TDY or deployed should have their mail held at the local post office or have a trusted friend or relative collect and hold their mail. All documents that contain personal, financial, or medical information should also be shredded before they are thrown away.

Try not respond to e-mail, phone, or text messages that request personal information. When banking or shopping online, use websites that begin with “https,” those websites protect financial data with encryption.

Another good thing to remember is to use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, as well as a firewall, on personal computers. Lastly, read all bills, bank statements, and credit card statements as soon as they arrive to see if there is any unusual activity, and contact the particular business if statements do not arrive on time.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, those suffering from identity theft should take several steps as soon as possible.

First, call one of the three main credit reporting companies to request a fraud alert on the credit report in question. The company that was notified first must contact the other two so that they can put a fraud alert on file.

Second, order a credit report from each of the three credit reporting companies, read the reports carefully, and contact the credit reporting company if there are any errors or signs of fraud.

Third, create an identity theft report, which includes two parts:

• File a complaint with the FTC at or by calling 877-438-4338

• Take the completed FTC complaint, which is called an FTC Affidavit, to local police department where the theft occurred, file a police report, and obtain a copy of the police report.

Finally, explain the situation to leadership to avoid any misunderstanding if creditors contacting them regarding debts incurred by an identity thief.

Feel free to contact the Cannon Legal Office at 575-784-2211 with any questions regarding identity theft.