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Identity Theft Prevention

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What is Identity Theft?

According to California Penal Code Section 530.5, identity theft is the unauthorized use of personal identifying information to obtain credit, goods, services, or medical information in the name of another person.

Identity theft involves acquiring key pieces of another person’s identifying information (such as name, address, date of birth, social security number, and mother's maiden name) in order to impersonate them. This information enables the identity thief to commit numerous forms of fraud including: taking over the victim's financial accounts, opening new bank accounts, purchasing automobiles, computers and other merchandise, applying for loans, credit cards, and social security benefits, renting apartments, and establishing services with utility and phone companies.

How can I prevent Identity Theft?

  • Promptly remove mail from your mailbox after delivery. A locking mailbox is best.
  • Deposit outgoing mail in a post office collection mailbox or at your local post office. Do not leave in unlocked mail receptacles.
  • Unless you initiate the phone call, NEVER give personal information over the telephone such as your SS#, date of birth, mother's maiden name, credit card number, or bank PIN code. Protect this information and release it only when absolutely necessary.
  • NEVER discard pre-approved credit applications, credit card receipts, bills or other financial information in the trash or recycling bin. SHRED what you don’t need to save.
  • Empty your wallet of extra credit cards and ID’s. Cancel the ones you do not use and maintain a list of the ones you do.
  • Order your credit report from the 3 credit bureaus once a year to check for fraudulent activity or other discrepancies.
  • Never leave receipts at bank machines, bank counters, trash receptacles, or unattended gasoline pumps. Keep track of all your paperwork. When not needed, SHRED!
  • Memorize your social security number and all of your passwords. Do not record them on any cards in your wallet or purse.
  • Sign all new credit cards upon receipt.
  • Save all credit card receipts and match them against your monthly bills.
  • Be conscious of the time of month you receive your financial statements. Contact the sender if they are late or not received in the mail.
  • Notify your credit card companies and financial institutions in advance of any change of address or phone number.
  • Never loan your credit cards to anyone.
  • Never put your credit card or any other financial account number on a postcard or on the outside of an envelope.
  • If you applied for a new credit card and it hasn't arrived in a timely manner, call the bank or credit card company involved.
  • Report all lost or stolen credit cards immediately.
  • Closely monitor expiration dates on your credit cards. Contact the credit card issuer if replacement cards are not received prior to the expiration dates.
  • Beware of mail or telephone solicitations disguised as promotions offering instant prizes or awards designed solely to obtain your personal information or credit card numbers.

Internet & Online Services

  • When you subscribe to an on-line service, you may be asked to give credit card information. Use caution when disclosing checking account numbers, credit card numbers, or other personal financial data at any Web site or on-line service location unless you receive a secured authentication key from your provider.
  • When you enter any interactive service site, beware of con artists who may ask you to "confirm" your enrollment service by disclosing passwords or the credit card account number used to subscribe. Don't give them out!

What do I do if I'm a victim?

1.  Contact the Police Department to file a report - (310) 802-5140.
Include any suspect or witness information and financial loss, and bring copies of all supporting data.

2.  Set up a folder to keep a detailed history of this crime.  
Keep a log of all your calls/contacts and make copies of all documents.

3.  Report the problem to the Federal Trade Commission ( 
The FTC is the federal clearinghouse for complaints by victims of identity theft. They help victims by providing information to help resolve financial and other problems that could result from identity theft. Their hotline telephone number is: (877) ID THEFT (438-4338)

4.  Call each of the three credit bureau fraud units by phone and in writing to inform them of the problem to report identity theft.
Ask to have a "Fraud Alert/Victim Impact" statement placed in your credit file asking that creditors call you before opening any new accounts.

PO Box 74021, Atlanta, Georgia 30374

  • To order your report, call (800) 685-1111
  • To report fraud, call (800) 525-6285

PO Box 949, Allen, Texas 75013-0949

  • To order your report, call (888) 397-3742
  • To report fraud, call (888) 397-3742

Trans Union
PO Box 390, Springfield, Pennsylvania 19064-0390

  • To order your report, call (800) 916-8800
  • To report fraud, call (800) 680-7289

Sample "Written” Notice


Dear (Creditor Name/Collection Agency Name):

On (Date), I received your letter demanding payment of ($$ amount). I did not open this account and incur this unpaid balance. Someone, other than myself, wrongfully used my personal information to obtain a line of credit/service. Your company extended a line of credit/services to someone, other than myself. Your company is a victim and should file a police report in the appropriate jurisdiction.

You are hereby notified that on (Date) I filed an identity theft report with the Manhattan Beach Police Department. My case # is (_____-_______). A copy may be obtained by calling the Manhattan Beach Police Department Records Section at (310) 802-5150.


(Your name, address, and phone number)


5.  Notify the US Postal Inspector if you believe your mail has been stolen or tampered with.
A listing of US Postal Inspection Service can be found in the front of your phone book under Federal Government as well as the number of your local Post Office, or go the the United States Postal Service website.   

6.  If you have any checks stolen or bank accounts set up fraudulently, report it to the following companies:

• National Check Fraud Services - (843) 571-2143
• SCAN - (800) 262-7771
• TeleCheck - (800)710-9898 or 927-0188
• CheckRite - (800) 627-0041
• Equifax Check Systems - (800) 437-5120
• CrossCheck - (707) 586-0551
• International Check Services - (800) 526-5380

7.  Alert your banks to flag your accounts and contact you to confirm any unusual activity.  Also request a change of PIN and a new password.

8.  Contact Social Security Administration Fraud Hotline - (800) 269-0271.

9.  Contact the State Department of Motor Vehicles to see if another driver’s license was issued in your name.  If so, request a new license number and fill out the DMV complaint form to begin the fraud investigation process.

Other helpful sources for information: