The telephone is often the weapon of choice for crimes of fraud and identity theft. Always be cautious when talking to strangers over the phone. Don’t give out personal information or credit card numbers if you have not verified the organization the caller claims to be representing.
The St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office offers free Fraud Prevention Seminars. Contact their Fraud Prevention Task Force at 612-1412 or visit www.circuitattorney.org. For more information on the Fraud Prevention Taskforce, see their brochure for citizens.
Tips For Preventing Fraud and Identity Theft
- Don’t buy products over the phone from companies you are unfamiliar with.
- Always request written materials from the company or charitable organization. If the caller claims they can’t send this information, it is likely a fraudulent agency.
- Check out unfamiliar companies by using resources such as the Better Business Bureau, Attorney General or National Fraud Information Center.
- Do not pay for services in advance.
- Be cautious of key phrases that can signal a fraudulent organization such as:
- You must act now or you will lose this opportunity.
- You’ve won a free gift, vacation, etc.
- You must pay now.
- This is a high profit, low risk investment.
- Someone can pick up money or a check from your residence.
- Never respond to an offer you don’t understand.
- Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Report any potentially fraudulent companies to police.
- Never throw away ATM receipts, bank statements or credit cards in usable forms. Shred these documents to make them illegible to thieves.
- Keep a list of phone numbers to cancel credit cards if you discover they’ve been stolen.
- Report any suspicious activity to banks and credit card companies. Contact Police if you discover unauthorized activity on your accounts.
Reporting Fraud or Identity Theft
If there are unfamiliar charges on credit or bank cards, call your credit card company or bank immediately. If you notice your securities investments or brokerage account has suspicious activity report it immediately to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Call 1-202-942-7040 or visit http://www.sec.gov/complaint.shtml
If you suspect someone is using your social security number to work or apply for a job call the Social Security Administration Fraud Hotline: 1-800-269-0271
If someone is using your name or social security number to obtain a drivers license or state ID card contact the Missouri Department of Revenue: 314-877-0393
If someone has used your name and filed for bankruptcy, write to the U.S. Trustee in the Region where the bankruptcy was filed. For a listing of Regions visit: http://www.usdoj.gov/ust .
Resources for avoiding telemarketing, spam and junk mail
To remove your name from prescreened credit card offers in the mail: 1-888-567-8688
To remove your name from many national direct mail lists and telemarketers write to:
DMA Mail Preference Service
1120 Avenue of the Stars
New York, NY 10036-6700
Attn: Preference Services Manager
To remove your email address from national direct email lists click here
Fraud/ Identity Theft
Those committing fraud and identity theft today are more sophisticated than ever before. However, there are many things you can do to decrease your chances of becoming a victim.