Don't Get Hooked by Identity Thieves Learn Consumer Protection Tips at the Government Center


Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs
12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 551
Fairfax, VA 22035-0065
703-324-3187, TTY 703-324-2935, FAX 703-324-2010

Feb. 2, 2005

Don't Get Hooked by Identity Thieves

Learn Consumer Protection Tips at the Government Center

Going “phishing” — that’s the latest technique used by identity thieves to steal your personal financial information. More and more people are getting hooked, but you can learn to avoid taking the bait if you visit the Fairfax County Government Center next week.

Every day next week, Feb. 7 - 11, county residents can get hands-on help from the Fairfax County Department of Cable Communications and Consumer Protection. In celebration of the National Consumer Protection Week, consumer protection investigators will be available to answer questions, offer advice, and take complaints — about identity theft or any other consumer scam. Visit the Government Center, Suite 127, 12000 Government Center Parkway from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. for free help.

For those who cannot make it to the Government Center, cable Channel 16 will telecast consumer protection tips all month. In February, four back-to-back editions of “Consumer Focus” will be televised every Sunday beginning at 1 p.m. Viewers will learn about identity theft, teens and credit, credit card counseling, and biometric encryption. This month’s “County Magazine” will air a short feature about identity theft. For show times and information, please call 703-324-5930, TTY 711, or visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dtcs/channel16/default.htm

Phishing is a technique used to lure consumers into divulging their financial information, such as bank account or credit card number. By posing as a legitimate financial institution, identity thieves send consumers e-mails, asking them to “confirm” their account information. When unsuspecting victims take the bait, their personal financial information will be in the hands of identity thieves.

Although identity theft is a growing problem, consumers can protect themselves. The Department of Cable Communications and Consumer Protection offers the following advice:

  • Do not give personal information about yourself over the phone, the Internet or by mail unless you initiated the contact, or you are sure you know who you are dealing with. Also, be cautious about providing personal information on a cellular or cordless phone.
  • Do not put your address, telephone number or driver’s license number on a credit card sales receipt.
  • Remove your Social Security number from your driver’s license. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles will provide another number for you; call 1-866-368-5463 for more information, or visit www.dmv.state.va.us.
  • Do not carry your Social Security card, Social Security number, birth certificate or passport with you unless they are necessary. These documents should be placed in a secured location.
  • Check monthly credit card statements for charges you did not make and bank statements for transactions you do not recognize. Immediately report all discrepancies.
  • Get a copy of your credit report from each of the major credit bureaus each year. Check your report for mistakes and immediately report any unauthorized information or accounts.
  • Shred financial or confidential information.

Preventing identity theft is the focus for this year’s National Consumer Protection Week. Identity thieves victimized nearly 10 million Americans last year, according to the Federal Trade Commission. In Virginia, the FTC reports that more than 4,200 people had their personal information stolen in 2003.

Unfortunately, identity theft is just the latest trick for con artists. Consumers also can get ripped off when they take their car in for repair or hire a home-improvement contractor. To learn other consumer protection tips, visit the Government Center next week, or view tips online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/cccp/consserv/default.htm.

If you think you are the victim of identity theft, contact the county’s Consumer Protection Division for help at 703-222-8435, TTY 711.

For more information about Consumer Protection Week, or for reasonable ADA accommodations, please contact Dave Reidenbach, Department of Cable Communications and Consumer Protection, 703-222-8435, TTY 711.

FAIRFAX COUNTY IS COMMITTED TO A POLICY OF NONDISCRIMINATION IN ALL COUNTY PROGRAMS, SERVICES AND ACTIVITIES AND WILL PROVIDE REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS UPON REQUEST. TO REQUEST SPECIAL ACCOMMODATIONS, CALL 703-324-3187, TTY 703-324-2935. PLEASE ALLOW FIVE WORKING DAYS IN ADVANCE OF EVENTS IN ORDER TO MAKE THE NECESSARY ARRANGEMENTS.

 


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