Identity theft: How to prevent it and what to do when it happens

Local News

(WFRV) — Two women were recently arrested in De Pere for attempting to cash a check from a stolen checkbook.

Upon further investigation, officials learned one of the women had been involved in presenting almost 20 fraudulent checks to area banks.

Approximately half a dozen victims of identify theft were impacted by this case.

According to a document released by the Brown County Sheriff’s Office, identity theft is one of the fastest-growing financial crimes in America, accounting for billions of dollars in losses each year.

Here are common ways identity theft happens:

Lost/stolen wallet or checkbook
Dumpster diving
Mail theft
Inside resources like payrolls, insurance files, and sales records
Imposters
Documents in the home
Online data

If you believe your wallet, purse, or any personal information is missing or was stolen, David Thone, the Vice President of Internal Operations at Fox Communities Credit Union, recommends a few tips:

“The first thing we talk about is contacting your financial institutions. They can cancel or freeze your accounts and then open new ones,” Thone said in a phone interview with Local 5.

Thone then recommends putting a fraud alert on your credit report by contacting a credit bureau. Here is a list of bureaus which can help:

  1. Equifax
  2. Experian
  3. TransUnion

Using a third party identification protection service such as LifeLock can help detect fraudulent activity, drawing your attention to it.

“You should also, of course, file a police report,” Thone adds. The Federal Trade Commission says to report the suspected theft to local officials or to officials in the area in which the suspected theft took place.

Monitoring credit reports can also allow for monitoring of suspicious activity. Thone says a resource such as annualcreditreport.com can be used to check credit reports.

Thone recommends a number of steps which can be taken to prevent identity theft.

Some card providers allow holders to turn their debit or credit card on or off.

“Keeping a list of all the cards you own can help you keep track of what went missing,” Thone says.

And if you believe your keys were taken along with other pieces of your identity?

“Change your locks. If you believe your keys were taken, change your locks,” Thone says.

At least ten individuals were impacted by identity theft after two women presented 19 fraudulent checks at area banks this spring.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.