News & Events


Date and Time of Release: 3 Sept. 2009

Date and Time of Incident:

Subject: Identity Theft


With all the talk about identity theft in the news, along with the rapid increase in identity theft here in the Sonora area, the Sonora Police Department would like to take a moment to discuss this crime. There are several different types of identity theft out there, but the three types we are noticing here in Sonora are;

Account takeover-Your existing credit card or account number is used to purchase products and services without your knowledge or consent.

Application fraud- The suspect uses your social security number or other personal identifying information to open new accounts in your name. They then purchase merchandise and have it shipped to an address they have some attachment to, or to your home address and intercept the delivery of the merchandise.

Criminal identity fraud-Your identity is taken to commit a crime.

How is it done? There are several ways this crime is accomplished. The most common is by stealing your mail, wallet or purse. When the criminal steals your mail, they are looking for bank statements, credit card offers, new checks and any information that might contain personal information. When they steal your wallet or purse, they are looking for your driver’s license, credit cards, bank account numbers, PIN numbers, passwords, social security number, ext…

Another popular way is by obtaining your personal information from those who have access to it. This could be from people at your place of employment, a location where you use your credit card, your medical provider, or by computer hacking. The most recent surge has been in people pretending to be working for a company and asking for your personal identification. Remember, to never give your personal information to someone who called you asking for it. Confirm who they are and who they are with before releasing any secure information to them. If they are a legitimate business, they will understand your concern and honor your request.

Another big trend right now is dumpster diving. This is where people go through your trash and remove items that contain personal information. Before throwing out documents that contain personal information, destroy these documents in a cross-cut shredder. Remove all identifying information from junk mail before throwing it out or recycling it. Cut up or shred old credit cards, bank card, checks, etc…

Computer Safeguards-You should install a firewall to prevent hackers from obtaining personal data from your hard drive. Install virus protection software; password-protect files that contain sensitive or personal data. Delete emails sent by strangers which might contain hyperlinks or malicious programs that capture passwords or other information. Before discarding your old computer, use a hard drive “wipe” or shredding program to remove all files containing personal information.

What to do if you become a victim of identity theft?

1) Place a fraud alert on your credit report. Contact these three major credit bureaus to report the fraud and obtain a free credit report:

o Equifax 1-800-525-6285
o P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

o Experian 1-888-397-3742
o P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013

o Trans-Union 1-800-680-7289 (Fraud Victim’s Assistance Division)
o P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790

2) Immediately close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. If you’re closing existing accounts and opening new ones, use a new PIN and password to help safeguard your new accounts.

3) If your checks have been stolen or misused, close the account and ask your bank to notify the appropriate check verification service(s).

4) Call SCAN (1-800-262-7771) to find out if the identity thief has been passing bad checks on your account(s).

5) File a report with your local police or sheriff’s office where you reside. If you live inside the City limits of Sonora, you will contact the Sonora Police Department. If you live in the County, you will contact the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Department.

6) Keep a copy of the crime report in case you need to validate your claim with creditors. They will often ask for a copy of the crime report or for the case number.

7) File a complaint with the FTC. Visit or call the FTC’s identity theft hotline at 1-877-438-4338, or write the Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington DC 20580.

If you feel you have become the victim of identity theft, or if you have any questions regarding identity theft, please contact the Sonora Police Department at 532-8141.