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Identity Theft – How to Avoid and Steps to take if you become a Victim


Identity Theft – How to Avoid and Steps to take if you become a Victim 


Identity theft occurs when a person uses your personal information such as name, Social Security number, credit card or bank account information without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes.  In the state of New Jersey, identity theft is covered by the Wrongful Impersonation Statute (N.J.S.A. 2C:21-1), which makes it a crime to impersonate another or obtain personal information of another and use that information to obtain a benefit, services or attempt to avoid a debt by using the name of another person.  Depending on the severity of the action and the amount of monetary damage resulting to the victim, the offense ranges from a Disorderly Person offense to a 2nd degree crime punishable by fines and jail time.  


Identity theft can occur in many different ways such as theft of your purse or wallet, others going through your garbage or mail and collecting bills, financial documents or even credit card applications with your personal information, and fraudulent emails or text messages requesting you supply personal information to another.  While most identity theft can be prevented, many people become victims by not being cautious about protecting personal information.  All paperwork that has personal identifying information should be shredded before being put to the curb for garbage.  Computers should have updated ani-virus programs to filter out scams.  Personal information should never be given out on the phone, emails or texts without first confirming the recipient of the communication is legitimate.  Bank statements, credit card statements and other financial documents should be reviewed on a monthly basis to confirm that balances and debits match your records. And a copy of your credit reports from all three credit reporting agencies should be checked at least once a year so that any fraudulent activity can be disputed and corrected.

If you become the victim of identity theft, the following actions should be taken:


1. Contact your local [police department, file a report and obtain a case number that will likely be required if you are disputing a charge with a financial institution.

2. Report the activity to Equifax, Experian and TransUnion and ask that your account be flagged and have a Fraud Alert/Victim Impact Statement placed in your credit file.

3. Contact any creditors that wrongfully provided credit in your name to someone else and have the account closed out and request replacement cards for any other accounts you may have with that creditor.

4. If your Social Security Number was used fraudulently, contact the Social Security Administration and report the theft. If your driver’s license or registration was stolen, contact the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission and report the theft.

5. Contact the Federal Trade Commission and report a theft, as the FTC assists victims in resolving financial and other issues resulting from identity theft.


Date: May 09, 2023