What is identity theft?
Indiana Code 35-43-5-3.5 defines IDENTITY DECEPTION as follows;

A person who knowingly or intentionally obtains, possesses, transfers, or uses the identifying information of another person without the other person’s consent, and with the intent to:

  • harm or defraud another person
  • assume another person’s identity
  • profess to be another person
  • commits IDENTITY DECEPTION a Class D Felony.

How your identification can be stolen:

  • Suspects can steal your mail such as bank and credit card statements.
  • Suspects can sift through your trash to locate your identifying information or account numbers.
  • Suspects may steal your wallet or your purse.
  • Suspects may burglarize your residence and use information that they find.
  • Computer hackers can obtain your credit card or debit card information through point-of-sale skimmers and key-logging software.

How your identifying information can be used:

  • Suspects can call your credit card company and have the mailing address changed. This allows them a longer period of time to “max” out your account before you realize it has occurred.
  • Suspects can open new credit card accounts in your name or even take out loans.
  • Suspects may open new bank accounts in your name and write bad checks.
  • Suspects may counterfeit your current checks and drain your account.
  • Suspects may obtain a driver’s license or passport with your identifying information and their photo.
  • Suspects may use your name and social security number for employment purposes.

What if I become a victim?

  • If you live in the City of Columbus, file a report with the Columbus Police Department. You can file a report 24 hours day by calling (812) 376-2600.  Obtain a report number from the officer.
  • Contact your credit card companies and banks to inform them of the incident and to close affected accounts.
  • Contact any of the three credit reporting bureaus and place a “fraud alert” on your credit report. The company you call is required by law to contact the other two companies and advise them to also place an alert on your report. The three consumer reporting companies are listed below.
  • If several accounts have been affected, file a report with the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov.  The FTC website can provide you with an ID Theft Affidavit and sample letters.  You can complete these forms and provide them to companies where fraudulent accounts have been opened. This will be helpful in disputing the accounts.
  • Keep organized records in regards to your case. Write down the name of everyone you speak with, what they tell you, and the date of the conversation. Follow up in writing with all contacts you make on the phone or in person. Use certified mail, return receipt requested, so you can document what the company received and when.  Keep copies of all correspondence or forms you send.

How can I prevent Identity Theft?

  • Shred personal documents!
  • Place strong passwords on your credit card, bank, and phone accounts. Avoid using mother’s maiden name, your date of birth, last four digits of your SSN or phone number, or any series of consecutive numbers.
  • Secure personal information in your home in a lock box or safe.
  • Do not give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or on the internet unless you have initiated the contact or are sure you know with whom you are dealing.
  • Deposit outgoing mail in a post office collection box or at the post office instead of in an unsecured mailbox with the flag up.
  • Install a mailbox that has a lock at your residence.
  • If you are going on vacation or are planning on being away for an extended period of time, call the United States Postal Service at (800) 275-8777 for a vacation hold.
  • Opt-out of receiving unsolicited credit card offers in the mail by calling (888) 567-8688.
  • Do not carry anyone’s SSN. Keep them in a secure place.
  • When ordering new checks, pick them up, instead of having them mailed.
  • Before you dispose of a computer, delete all personal information.
  • Obtain a free credit report at least once a year. This can be done at www.annualcreditreport.com.

Investigation of your case
If you have filed a report with the Columbus Police Department your case will be reviewed and most likely assigned to a detective for investigation. The detective will make every attempt to determine who is responsible for committing the crimes, however we are unable to solve every case. If a detective has been assigned your case they will usually make contact with you within forty eight hours of being assigned the case. They will guide you in the steps you will need to take to repair your credit and will be glad to answer any questions you might have.

If you are a City of Columbus resident, report Identity Theft to the CPD Front Desk at 812-376-2600.  Otherwise, call your local police.
Consumer Reports

P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, Ga. 30374
Equifax Website

P.O. Box 9532
Allen, Tx. 75013
Experian Website

P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, Ca. 92834
Trans Union Website

Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Av. NW
Washington DC 20580
FTC Website

Free Credit Reports
Annual Credit Report Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, Ga. 30348
ACR Website