On Friday 11-March Sgt Jonathan Misskerg of the Bogota Police Dept held a workshop on How a person can become a victim of Identity Theft. Sgt. Misskerg first explained how a person can have their personal information stolen. He talked about the high profile cases of computer hackers breaking into the record of stories like Target, Home Depot, and Wendy's. These type of ID Thefts are mainly used to steal a person's credit card number and use that information to make purchase. Another, more invasive form can target more personal information. These go from email scams looking for personal information to claim a reward, or to assist a person in need. Others are posing as employees for banks, credit card companies, or event the IRS. The scammer is looking personal, and financial information at that moment in order to " keep someone from being fined , or arrested." Most debt, or tax collection agency will only call after a lengthy attempts to collect through letters, email and then require a person to call them. Another way a person can have their ID stolen is by fraudulent tax preparers. This is where a person gathers someone's information under the guise of filing their taxes and uses it for themselves. This victimises a person two ways, with the lost of their Identity and lack of tax payment which the victim is still responsible for. Sgt. Misskerg urged the audience to only use know tax preparers, but best would be licenced accounts. In New Jersey anyone who wishes to open needs to have registered with the state and be given an " PTIN" number.
If someone suspects they are a victim of identity theft they should contact local Police as soon as possible. Another contact to make is to the Federal Trade Commision ( FTC) to alert them of a possible crime. With both agencies a person will need to give as much information about the suspect, and the situation about the scam, or theft.
Sgt. Misskerg then gave information about how person should help protect themselves. He advised that personal information should be treated like expensive jewelry, mean kept in a locked storage bow in a safe location. Most issued document should be place under lock and key including Social Security cards Marriage, Birth and even Death certificate. Passports, Mortgages, and any other type of transaction needing personal information. With newer smart phones and other devices they should be destroyed, along with the hard drive from old Computers. The hard drive can be removed separately while the main body should be recycled. Sgt. Misskerg recommends drilling holes in these devices and breaking them up, and then thrown away. Any old paper work should be shredded, and burned if possible. With cells phones, tablet, and laptop using free wifi should never be used. His summary was to not give information out if possible, and then only when absolutely necessary, then followed by review and accounts to see that all charges, or withdraws and know by the individual.
For more information anyone may contact the Bogota Police dept at: bogotapolice.org
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