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San Joaquin County
District Attorney's Office

Quality of Life
Identity Theft Prevention


IdentityTheftLogoIdentity theft can happen to ANYONE. It is a serious crime. It can disrupt your finances, credit history and your reputation. It can result in financial losses and take time and money to resolve. Identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information and uses it without your permission. When the crooks have your personal information they can create credit cards and identification cards with your information to make large purchases or finance automobiles, without you even knowing what they are doing. Identity thieves may get your information by stealing your mail, purse, or wallet, going through your garbage, or stealing your sensitive information from a place you do business with. Identity thieves may also call you on the telephone posing as an official such as an IRS agent and try to get you to provide personal information, or by hacking into your computer.

How to Prevent Identity Theft or Misuse

  • Never give out your personal information over the telephone to a caller
  • Do not leave your purse, wallet or any documents with personal identifying information in your vehicle while it is unattended
  • Shred all documents and cards containing your personal identifying information
  • Do not use public WIFI services (like at a Starbucks or McDonald's)
  • Freeze your credit with all credit reporting agencies
  • Shred or tear into small pieces, or cut up all mail and documents that contain personal information and Social Security Numbers, bank or credit card information
  • Pick up your mail and / or packages right after they are delivered to your personal or community mail box or get a PO Box at the Post Office
  • Consider using the  USPS Informed Delivery Service. It scans your incoming mail each morning and emails it to you so you know what should be arriving today, and know if anything is missing.
  • Place mail with bills to be paid at the Post Office
  • Ask your bank to hold your new boxes of checks at the bank to be picked up
  • Ask your credit card company to not mail you cash advance type checks
  • Avoid putting your personal information on cards for drawings or raffles unless you are familiar with the organization
  • Carry your wallet in your front pocket
  • Carry a close-fitting or hidden pouch instead of a purse
  • Reduce the items you carry in public, such as extra credit cards, Social Security card and checkbooks
  • Consider carrying a photocopy of your Medicare card or medical insurance card with all but the last four digits blackened out.

Are You a Victim of Identity Theft?

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Victims of Identity Theft and / or Misuse can be people, living and deceased, businesses, schools and government offices and agencies.  Just because your bank or credit card company reimburses you for your financial loss, does not mean you are not a victim. It means that both you and your financial institution or school or business are both victims.  Make a police report so that if and when your credit card, driver’s license, mail or other document containing  your personal identifying information is found, officers know how to reach you and return your property to you.

Red Flags of Identity Theft

  • Mistakes on your bank, credit card, or other account statements
  • Mistakes on the explanation of medical benefits from your health plan
  • Your regular bills and account statements do not arrive on time
  • Bills or collection notices for products or services never received
  • Calls from debt collectors about debts that do not belong to you
  • A notice from the IRS that someone used your Social Security number
  • Mail, email, or calls about accounts or jobs in your minor child's name
  • Unwarranted collection notices on your credit report
  • Businesses turned down your check
  • You are turned down for a loan or job
  • Your bank account is overdrawn or there is unusual activity on your credit card

Can I get a Credit Freeze?


In September of 2018, a federal law was implemented which made credit freezes (also know as “security freezes”) free with the respective credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax and Transunion  - The Federal Trade Commission’s website has a link to each credit bureau’s freeze website.  The credit bureaus keep records of your accounts and payment history which credit card companies and lender’s use to assess whether you will pay your bills.  If you freeze your file, the bureau’s will not provide information to lenders unless you thaw the freeze first using a special personal ID number.  The bureaus cannot charge you to thaw your credit either.  Unfortunately, you have to do a freeze at each of the credit reporting agencies. When you want new credit, you have to request a thaw of each credit bureau because you do not know which bureau the lender will use.  Parents can create and freeze credit files for their children under the age of 16 free of charge as well.

There is a fourth smaller credit bureau  called the National Consumer Telecom and Utilities Exchange which provided information to some cellphone, pay TV and Utility companies.  This bureau is housed and managed by Equifax, but is its own separate entity, so you will have to apply to them for a separate freeze of your cellular, Pay TV and or Utility account.

Credit Bureaus also offer a credit lock – but these carry fees because they are not regulated by federal law.

You can also get a fraud alert – it requires credit bureaus to contact you to verify your identity when a company requests your credit file.  Under the new legislation, that alert must last a year once established and unlike credit freezes, once you establish it at one bureau it is established at the other two

What to Do If You Are a Victim of Identity Theft


1. Call the companies where you know fraud occurred

  • Ask to speak with the fraud department and explain your identity has been stolen
  • Ask them to close or freeze the accounts
  • Change all your logins, passwords and PINS for your accounts

2. Place a fraud alert on your credit report.

3. Report identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

  • Complete the FTC's online complaint form at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov. Give as many details as you can. The complaint form is not available on mobile devices, but you can also call to make your report 1-877-438-4338
  • Print and save your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit immediately. Once you leave the page, you won't be able to get your affidavit.

4. File report with your local police department

  • Take the following with you to the police department:
    • a copy of your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit
    • government-issued ID with a photo
    • proof of your address (i.e. utilities bill)
    • any proof you have of the theft
    • FTC's Memo to Law Enforcement (available at https://identitytheft.gov/)
    • Ask for a copy of the police report

How to Get Help


San Joaquin County District Attorney Office

222 E. Weber Ave., Room 202, Stockton, CA
(209) 468-2400

Stockton Police Department
22 E. Market Street, Stockton, CA 95202
(209) 937-8377

San Joaquin County Sheriff Office
7000 Michael Canlis Blvd., French Camp, CA 95231
(209) 468-4400

For a list of all local Law Enforcement Agencies, see our RESOURCES page

For more information on Identity Theft contact the Federal Trade Commission

 

Information contained provided by: 
Federal Trade Commission 
San Joaquin County CASE program

District Attorney Quality of Life Crimes Division


The Quality of Life Crimes Division handles crimes that directly affect the everyday lives of San Joaquin County residents. This Division encompasses the following units: Arson, Animal Cruelty, Agriculture Crimes, Environmental and Consumer Fraud, Public Assistance Fraud, General Insurance Fraud, Worker's Compensation Fraud and Auto Insurance Fraud, Real Estate Fraud, Elder Abuse, Auto Theft, White Collar Crime, Identity Theft, and Neighborhood District Attorneys.