Unified Police Department Message
Nov 09, 2015 10:22AM
● By Bryan Scott
Here are some helpful tips to help you protect your identity:
If you do not have one yet, get a locking mailbox. They really are not expensive, starting at about $27.00 at any home improvement store. They come in several different styles, even ones that look like a standard mailbox.
NEVER put any outgoing mail in your home mailbox, especially checks or cash. Mail theft is one of the most used and easiest methods used by criminals to steal your identity and your money.
Do not keep anything of value or any type of identification documents in your vehicle. Criminals break into vehicles looking for documents they can use or sell to steal your identity. If your car has a trunk, us it if you have no other option and need to leave any items of value in your vehicle.
These days it is very common to pay most of your bills online. It is one of the safest ways to pay your bills other than paying them in person, but you still need to take the proper precautions to do it safely. There are numerous ways to protect yourself; here a few basic way to do so. Make sure you have current, up-to-date antiviruses/spyware and a good up-to-date firewall installed on the computer you are using. Always start your payment session at the main page of your financial institution’s website; don’t ever click on a link from an email to access your account as this is a popular phishing strategy used by criminals to get your bank account information. Also, look for the beginning of the web address to start off with HTTPS and look for the LOCK symbol next to it. This indicates that you are on a secure website. Again these are just a few of the basic steps you can take to help protect yourself. Search the internet for more suggestions.
Social Media such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, ect.: be very careful as to what information you put on those sites. This is another area that criminals use to steal your identity. I’m not saying not to use those sites, but please be careful as to what information you put on them.
You might have scammers calling you to try and trick you into thinking they are the IRS or a debit collector. The criminals can Spoof (Make their phone number look like the IRS or any other business), so make sure you NEVER give out any personal information over the phone and NEVER wire anyone money only based on the information someone tells you over the phone.
When purchasing and selling online using sites such as KSL Classifieds and Graig’s List, you need to be careful as the transactions that take place on those sites are not always as they appear. A lot of stolen property is listed and sold on the sites, as well as legitimate items. If you are selling an item and you get an offer to purchase and that buyer wants to send you a check for more than you are selling the item to them for and asks you to send or wire them the payment overage amount back, do not do it. THIS IS A SCAM!!!
Purchasing and selling items on EBay and Amazon are pretty safe, as they both have security and anti-fraud protocols in place to help keep their customers’ personal and bank information safe. These days nothing is 100% safe, but if you use trusted vetted websites, your information is much safer.
These are just a few of the ways you can help to protect yourself from identity theft and fraud. Criminals are pretty tech savvy these days, but they still use old school techniques as well to steal your identity and take your money. Use common sense and think about things that do not seem right; ask questions before acting. WHEN IN DOUBT CHECK IT OUT
Detective Michael Glieden
Financial Crimes Investigations
Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake