Scam advisory 09-21-07

Hawaii Police Department
Criminal Investigations Section, Area II
Lieutenant Robert Wagner
Phone: 326-4646, Ext. 266
September 21, 2007

Media Release

Big Island Police would like to educate the public about how to protect against identity theft scams. Thieves who obtain your personal information use it to obtain credit cards and open checking accounts in your name, as well as to obtain other types of credit.

Although most victims are not aware of how their identity was obtain by another, mail theft is a frequently-used method. Thieves prey on outgoing mail that contains items such as your credit card numbers and checking account numbers. Items in incoming mail include credit cards, prescreened credit card offers, bank statements and checks.

As the result of a recent search warrant served in Kona, police recovered stolen mail found from several addresses in the Kona area.

The Hawaii Police Department advises you to take steps to minimize being a victim. If you are not able to remove your mail immediately after it is delivered to your home, we recommend that you invest in a locking mail box. Deposit your outgoing mail in post office collection mailboxes or at your local post office. Do not leave outgoing mail in unsecured mail receptacles.

For a fee, you can place a “Fraud Alert” on your credit report by contacting one of the three Credit Report bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. A “Fraud Alert” will prevent thieves from opening any new accounts or obtaining any credit cards in your name. In addition, you can opt out of receiving prescreened credit card offers by calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT.

If you think you may have been the victim of identity theft, you also may call the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) toll free ID theft hotline at 1-877-ID THEFT.

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