Financial Crimes Unit
Victims of financial crime often describe a tremendous violation of their personal integrity and sense of trust. Because these psychological "wounds" are not perceived in the same way as wounds to the body, nor as generally understood as the emotional scars of a sexual assault, the effects on financial crime victims are often, and very inappropriately, minimized.
Financial crimes are a personal violation. Your trust in your own judgment, and your trust in others, is often shattered. You may feel a sense of betrayal, especially if the perpetrator is someone you know.
You may have hesitated to tell family members, friends or colleagues about your victimization for fear of criticism. If they then were exploited by the same fraud, you might feel guilty and suffer a sense of isolation.
Fraud crimes can destroy your financial security and sometimes that of your loved ones. If you are elderly, disabled, or on a fixed income--and you lack opportunities to recover your losses--you may face additional trauma, even the loss of your independence.
The CMPD's Financial Crimes Unit investigates several different fraud related crimes that include counterfeit and forged checks, credit card fraud, embezzlement, financial identity fraud and the different scams that may be used to trick unsuspecting people into handing over their money. Each of these crimes cost each victim time and money trying to rectify the situation. As consumers and business owners, we must each take steps to protect ourselves. The only way to avoid the cost and inconvenience of being a victim of these crimes is to strive to prevent them from happening to you.
What is ID Theft???
Financial Identity Fraud (North Carolina General Statute 14-113.20), more commonly known as ID Theft, is the fraudulent use of someone's name and a personal identifying number to obtain credit, merchandise or services.
Personal identifying numbers include:
- Social security number
- Drivers license number
- Checking or savings account number
- Credit or debit card numbers
- Any other number that can be used to access a person's financial resources
ID Theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States.
If you believe that you are a victim of identity theft and want to put a security freeze on your credit,
visit the NC Department of Justice site for more information to protect your identity.
Even if you do not believe you have been a victim of identity theft, you have the option to “freeze” your credit as a proactive measure against fraud. When you know you will be making a large purchase, you can then “unfreeze” it so a legitimate creditor can access your records and you can obtain a loan for a car or house, etc.
|How Can ID Theft Affect Me?||<div class="ExternalClass67720DB860B442A0B9023CF01C0508FE"><div style="margin-left:7px;margin-right:7px;">
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), people who have had their identities stolen may spend months or years and thousands of dollars cleaning up their credit histories and clearing up their name. In the meantime, those victims may lose job opportunities, be denied credit or loans, or even be arrested for crimes they did not commit. The victim deals with endless calls from creditors on loans they did not take out and uses their personal time and resources to make phone calls, write letters and fill out affidavits to close these accounts that they did not open. The victims are stuck having to prove that they are indeed victims.
|Think It Can't Happen to YOU???||<div class="ExternalClassD5A64A1FA72C4935894C46F75E9D10D1"><div style="margin-left:7px;margin-right:7px;"><ul><li> In 2017, nearly 16.7 million people had their identities stolen by thieves who unlawfully accessed their personal and financial information. Once your personal information is in the hands of a scammer, you could lose your money, your good credit rating, and your overall financial health </li></ul>
|How Can My Information Be Used?||<div class="ExternalClassDE0A87F14022469D86875D8E9D12DFF1"><div style="margin-left:7px;margin-right:7px;"> A suspect can use your information to:
<ul><li> Open credit card accounts in your name or add authorized users to your existing accounts </li><br>
<li> Open bank accounts in your name (to find out if an identity thief has passed bad checks in your name call 1-800-262-7771)</li><br>
<li> Obtain loans in your name (real estate, auto or personal) </li><br>
<li> Establish utilities (power, gas or phone) in your name </li><br>
<li> Obtain cell phone accounts in your name </li><br>
<li> Counterfeit checks using your bank account information and drain your account </li></ul>
|How Can Someone Obtain My Information?||<div class="ExternalClass4BCA715F7CFB4D58B10D26806A294B1D"><div style="margin-left:7px;margin-right:7px;"> An individual can obtain your personal information by:
<ul><li> Stealing your wallet or purse </li>
<li> Breaking in to your vehicle </li>
<li> Stealing your mail </li>
<li> Filling out a change of address form to divert your mail to another address</li>
<li> Going through your trash looking for financial documents or pre-approved credit offers</li>
<li> Going through the trash at businesses or "dumpster diving" </li>
<li> Stealing it from businesses where you are a customer, patient, student or getting it from an employee who may have access to the information </li>
<li> Scamming you into giving it to them. They may pose as an employee from a legitimate sounding business and ask you for the information to open up or to update an account</li>
<li> Gathering the personal information that you share on an unsecure website </li>
<li> Data breaches at corporations where you have accounts </li>
<li> The “dark web” is an active hub of criminal activity where personal information is bought and sold. This information can be obtained through some of the methods listed above </li>
|What Can I Do to Protect Myself??||<div class="ExternalClass8A5E163F4621464195AA94E02556DD59"><div style="margin-left:7px;margin-right:7px;">
While it is impossible prevent identity theft entirely, there are steps that you can take to reduce the risks of becoming a victim.
<ul><li> Review your credit reports with the three major credit bureaus annually to ensure the accuracy of those reports </li><br>
<li> Know who you are giving your personal information to and how it will be used </li><br>
<li> Minimize the amount of personal information that your carry in your wallet. Do not carry extra credit cards or your social security card </li><br>
<li> Do not place outgoing mail in your mailbox—place outgoing mail in a secure box
Install a locked mailbox for incoming mail or use a post office box </li>><br>
<li> SHRED IT OR DREAD IT!!!! Never throw away financial documents, receipts, or pre-approved credit offers without shredding them first </li><br>
<li> Reduce the amount of your information in circulation. Consider removing your name from the marketing lists of three major credit reporting agencies. This will limit the number of pre-approved credit offers you receive </li><br>
<li> Never write down your passwords or personal identification number (PIN)…memorize them!!! </li><br>
<li> Protect your social security number—release it only when necessary </li><br>
<li> Pay attention to your billing cycles and follow up with companies if your bills do not arrive on time </li><br>
<li> Secure personal information in your home so that it is not readily accessible to others </li><br>
<li> Never leave personal or financial information in your vehicle </li><br>
<li> Password protect your cellular, utility, credit card and bank accounts</li>
|I am a Victim of ID Theft... What Do I Do Now??||<div class="ExternalClass3BC1E50F519F4DB58106A23FF2890FC6"><div style="margin-left:7px;margin-right:7px;"><ul><li> File a report with the jurisdiction where the crime occurred. If the offense occurred in Mecklenburg County, or the jurisdiction where the crime occurred will not take a report AND you live in Mecklenburg County, call 311 or 704-336-7600 to file a police report or click here to file one online </li><br>
<li> Contact one of the three (3) major credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion) to report the fraud. Ask that a fraud alert be placed on your file and request a copy of your credit report. The other two credit bureaus will automatically be notified to place a fraud alert on your credit file and all three reports will be sent to you free of charge </li><br>
<li> Review your credit report for accuracy </li><br>
<li> Contact the creditors for the accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently to close those accounts. Advise them of the fraudulent use of your information and request that they send you a fraud dispute form. Most creditors will accept the <a href="http://www.identity-theft-awareness.com/identity-fraud-affidavit.html" target="_blank"><strong>FTC fraud affidavit</strong></a></li><br>
<li> File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC maintains a database that law enforcement can use to assist with their investigations. </li>
- Act quickly and be persistent!!!
- Follow up with creditors in writing
- Keep a log documenting who you have spoken with and when you spoke with them
- Keep an organized file including any correspondence you have received and documentation you have collected
- Do not pay any bill or portion of a bill that is a result of a fraudulent account.
Helpful phone numbers for victims of ID theftCHARLOTTE-MECKLENBURG POLICE DEPARTMENT
To file a police report if you live in Mecklenburg County:
To file a report if you live outside of Mecklenburg County:
Have information about identity theft or fraudulent activity? You can provide anonymous information through
Crime Stoppers : 704-334-1600
To notify retailers who use their databases not to accept your check:
TELECHECK 1-800-710-9898 or 927-0188
CREDIT REPORTING BUREAUS
INTERNATIONAL CHECKS SERVICES 1-800-631-9656
CONSUMER CREDIT COUNSELING SERVICE 800-388-2227
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
PO Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
To order credit report: 800-685-1111
To opt out of marketing lists: 888-567-8688
To report fraud: 800-525-6285
PO Box 390, Springfield, PA 19064-0390
To order credit report: 800-888-4213
To opt of marketing lists: 888-567-8688
To report fraud: 800-680-7289
PO Box 2104, Allen, TX 75013-2104
To order credit report: 888-397-3742
To opt out of marketing lists: 800-353-0809
To report fraud: 800-301-7195
To file a complaint: 877-ID THEFT
To opt out of prescreened credit card offers:
To find out if ID thief is passing checks in your name:
1-800-262-7771SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
800-269-0271Helpful web based resources for victim of ID theft