Identity Theft

Identity Fraud, NH RSA 638:26

I.  A person is guilty of identity fraud when the person:

(a)  Poses as another person with the purpose to defraud in order to obtain money, credit, goods, services, or anything else of value;
(b)  Obtains or records personal identifying information about another person without the express authorization of such person, with the intent to pose as such person;
(c)  Obtains or records personal identifying information about a person without the express authorization of such person in order to assist another to pose as such person; or
(d)  Poses as another person, without the express authorization of such person, with the purpose of obtaining confidential information about such person that is not available to the general public.
II.  Identity Fraud is a CLASS A FELONY.
III.  A person found guilty of violating any provisions of this section shall, in addition to the penalty under paragraph II, be ordered to make full restitution for economic loss sustained by a victim as a result of such violation.

Preventative Measures

Protect your social security number, credit card numbers, account passwords and other personal information.

Use common sense, and be suspicious when things don’t seem right.  Never divulge your information over the phone unless you initiated the phone call.  If personal information is requested ask questions.  It is your right to know why it’s needed, how it will be used, and who needs it.

If you get an unsolicited offer that sounds too good to be true it probably is!  If a caller claims to represent your financial institution, the police department or some similar organization and asks you to “verify” (reveal) confidential information, hang up fast and consider reporting the incident.  Real bankers and government investigators don’t make these kinds of calls.

Minimize the damage in case your wallet gets lost or stolen.

Don’t carry around more checks, credit cards or other bank items than you really need.  Limit the number of credit cards you carry by canceling the ones you don’t use.  Don’t carry your Social Security number in your wallet or have it pre-printed on your checks.  Pick passwords and Personal Identification (PIN) numbers that will be tough for someone else to figure out-don’t use your birth date or home address, for example.  Don’t keep this information on or near your checkbook, ATM card or debit cards.  Also, don’t leave your wallet unattended in a store, restaurant, office or other public place even for a few minutes.

Protect your incoming and outgoing mail.

Promptly remove mail from your mailbox after it has been delivered.  If you’re going on vacation have your mail held at the local post office or ask someone you know and trust to collect your mail.  Deposit outgoing mail in the Postal Service’s blue collection boxes, hand it directly to a mail carrier or take it to a local post office.

Keep thieves from turning your trash into their cash.

“Dumpster divers” pick through trash looking for pre-approved credit card applications and receipts, cancelled checks, bank statements, expired charge cards and other documents or information they can use to counterfeit or order new checks or credit cards.  To keep these things from happening, use a “cross-cut” shredder and shred the items.  “Cross-cut” shredding makes confetti out of the documents and makes it virtually impossible for the thief to paste them back together.

Practice home security.

Safely store extra checks, credit cards, or other financial documents.  Don’t advertise to burglars that you’re away from home. Use timers on your lights and temporarily stop delivery of your newspaper and mail or ask a trusted neighbor to pick up any items that may arrive unexpectedly at your home.

Pay attention to your bank account statements and credit card bills.

ALWAYS check into discrepancies in your records or if you notice something suspicious, such as a missing payment or an unauthorized withdrawal.  Also, contact your institution if a bank statement or credit card bill doesn’t arrive on time because that could be a sign someone has stolen account information and changed your mailing address in order to run up big bills in your name from another location.

Review your credit report approximately once a year.

Monitor it for accuracy, looking for unauthorized bank accounts, credit cards, purchases, etc.  Look for anything suspicious in the section of your credit report that lists who has received a copy of your credit history.  This may be an indication a thief is trying to obtain fraudulent benefits, or is merely casing you as a victim.

Practice “on-line” or internet safety.

Be suspicious of web offers that “seem to good to be true.”  Ensure the web site you are using is legitimate, or has been formally examined and certified secure and reliable by a legitimate certifying agency such as the Better Business Bureau or the like.

Use your credit card and social security number only when absolutely necessary and that the website you are using has secure communication links that are encrypted (scrambled).  Again, keep your PIN numbers and passwords confidential, and DON’T write them down and leave next to, on or near your computer.

(Prevention information paraphrased from the FDIC Consumer News-Summer 2000)