Identity theft, called the fastest-growing crime in the country by law enforcement officials, is the topic of a free seminar Tuesday night in Scottsdale.
Scottsdale police Sgt. Gary Nelson, a longtime fraud crime detective, will tell participants how identity theft occurs, the scope of the problem and what people can do to protect themselves. The seminar is sponsored by the Citizen Police Academy Alumni of Scottsdale.
"The bottom line is you can safeguard your information," Nelson said.
Identity theft, he said, has doubled since 2001, when Arizona was ranked among the worst states in the nation for the crime.
Identity theft victims spend an average $1,000 clearing their names and restoring their credit standing. But the primary losses, Nelson said, are the time and hassle involved in that task.
It can take years to clean up the mess, according to the Federal Trade Commission’s Web site.
Meanwhile, the victim can lose out on job opportunities, loan applications, home mortgages and more because of bad credit attributable to the ID theft.
Some steps to avoid being a victim:
• Shred all financial and personal information before throwing it away.
• Never leave mail overnight in mailboxes.
• Mail financial material, including bill payments, from U.S. mailboxes.
• Do not include personal information, such as driver’s license numbers, on printed checks.
• Cancel unused credit card accounts and cut up the cards before disposing.
• Carry only what you need in your wallet (leave out unnecessary credit cards, checks, etc.)
• Never give Social Security numbers, bank account numbers or other personal financial information to telephone solicitors.
• Request copies of your credit report periodically.
ID theft seminar
What: "What You Need to Know to Protect Yourself"
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Via Linda Senior Center, 10440 E. Via Linda, Scottsdale
Web sites for victims of identity theft: