Identity theft is one if the fastest rising crimes in our state with a number of risk factors that are difficult to avoid in everyday life. Identity thieves steal names, addresses, checks, credit card numbers, bank account numbers and the highly coveted social security number. With a social security number fraudsters can open new credit card accounts, buy a boat or a house, never pay a bill and destroy someone's credit before an unsuspecting citizen knows what happened.
Colorado has a series of identity theft laws that make it illegal for another person to gather, possess or use your personal or financial identifying information. It also makes it crime to possess identity theft tools or financial devices, such as a stolen credit card. Conviction of identity theft is a class four felony. A second conviction of identity theft makes a prison sentence mandatory.
Fraud Hotline: 303-271-6980
Identity Theft Prevention Checklist
- Carry any document with sensitive information in a close-fitting pouch or in your front pocket, not in your purse or wallet. Sensitive documents include driver's license, credit and debit cards, checks, car registration and anything that includes your Social Security Number (SSN).
- Don't carry your checkbook in public; carry only the checks you need.
- When possible, remove anything from your wallet that includes your SSN: Social Security card, Medicare card, military identification card. If your SSN is printed on your driver's license, get a new one.
- Don’t give any part of your Social Security number, credit card or bank account numbers to anyone on the phone, email or Internet unless you have initiated the contact to a verifiable company or financial institution.
- Request a free copy of your credit report once each year
- Notify the credit reporting agencies about the death of a relative or friend to block the misuse of the deceased person's credit
- Call your bank and credit card customer service and ask to "opt out" of all marketing programs, including the mailing of convenience checks.
- Call the Credit Card Offer Opt-Out Line, 1-888-5-OPTOUT (888-567-8688) to reduce the number of credit card solicitations you receive
- Use a crosscut or confetti shredder to destroy pre-approved credit card offers, convenience checks and any document containing sensitive information
- Mail checks at the post office, not in your mailbox or in street-corner postal boxes. Consider using automated payment plans.
- Don’t have boxes of new checks mailed to your home; ask your bank or credit union to receive them for you
- Don’t keep your auto registration, insurance card, checkbook, receipts or other identifying information in your car. Carry these items in a secure manner on your person. Always lock your car.
- Check your earnings record annually - and more often if you suspect your SSN has been compromised (it's free and there is no limit to how often you may request it.) Contact the Social Security Administration and ask for Form SSA-7004, Request for Earnings and Benefit Estimate Statement.
- Never respond to emails requesting personal information, such as bank or charge account numbers; Social Security numbers; pin numbers or passwords. This rule applies even when the sender appears to be your bank or credit card company; a government agency, such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Social Security Administration or the IRS; or companies such as AOL, eBay, PayPal, etc. No legitimate company or agency will send an email asking you to verify information.
- Always delete unknown or questionable emails without opening
- Use a firewall program, especially if you use a high-speed connection like cable, DSL or T-1, which connects your computer 24 hours a day. The firewall program allows you to stop uninvited guests from accessing your computer. Without it, hackers can take over your computer, access stored personal information or use your computer to commit crimes.
- Use a secure browser - software that encrypts or scrambles information you send over the Internet - to guard the security of online transactions. Be sure your browser has up-to-date encryption capabilities by using the latest version available from the manufacturer. When submitting information, look for the "lock" icon on the browser's status bar to ensure your information is secure during transmission.