“It’s bad enough to fall victim to identity theft,” says Sheriff John Anderson. “Now the crooks who stole your identity are calling and trying to extort money from you.”
Anderson is referring to a new scam that involves an old ruse, which surfaced almost a year ago in Madera County.
Citizens were getting calls from people claiming to represent the Attorney General’s Office, telling their victims a warrant had been issued for their arrest. In order to settle the legal matter, all the victim had to do was wire the caller money.
But now those same crooks have already collected your personal information before contacting you, and using your personal information to convince you that the call is not a scam.
Sheriff Anderson says it is a scam and whether it’s from someone claiming to be from the AG’s Office or from some other agency, don’t fall for it. He worries that if citizens get a call from someone who can recite their personal information, they might believe the caller is legitimate.
Just yesterday a Mountain Area resident received several phone calls at work from a man claiming to represent the United States Attorney General’s Office. He reeled off her Social Security number to “verify she was the right person he called.” He then told her there was a legal matter that she failed to clear and asked if the Sheriff’s Office had served her with papers yet. He then threatened to have her arrested if she did not wire $5,000.
Thinking maybe she had failed to pay a ticket, she called the Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Anderson says, apart from the fact that no law enforcement agency is going to contact you by phone and order you to wire money in order to clear up some legal matter, “in this particular case, the caller not only knew her name and where she worked, he had already stolen her personal information before contacting her and using that information to threaten her.”
Sheriff Anderson says any chance of finding these suspects is rare, and urges victims to take immediate steps to protect their identity from further misuse.
1. PLACE AN IMMEDIATE FRAUD ALERT
Contact the following three credit agencies to report the theft· Equifax: 1-800-525-6285· Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289· Experian: 1-888-397-3742
Once you have contacted all 3 credit reporting companies request a “free” copy of your credit report.
Once you receive your credit reports, read them carefully and look for any inconsistencies like fraudulent transactions or posted accounts that you know you never opened.
If you discover your account has been compromised or an account has been opened without your knowledge or authorization, report the fraud to those companies.
1. EXTENDED FRAUD ALERTS
If you’ve created an Identity Theft Report, you can get an extended fraud alert on your credit file to help you monitor your personal information every three months.
2. REPAIRING YOUR CREDIT AFTER IDENTITY THEFT
An identity thief who steals you social security number may use it to get a job and other benefits. He may also sell it to other thieves.
If you know your Social Security number is being misused, Contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) Fraud Hotline: 1-800-269-0271, or1-866-501-2101 (TTY)
If the SSA determines that you will need a new number, you will have to provide proof of:
· your age· your citizenship or lawful immigration status· your identity
To find an SSA office near you, visit the http://www.socialsecurity.gov/regions/ or call 1-800-772-1213.
Sheriff Anderson says it’s important that everyone routinely monitor their credit reports.”
To learn more about identity theft and steps you can take to protect yourself, log onto the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Protection Website at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0014-identity-theft
Madera County Sheriff's Office