Washington County Sheriff - Current Articles

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Current Articles


Identity Theft

What is identity theft?
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information, like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.

The FTC estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. In fact, you or someone you know may have experienced some form of identity theft.

The crime takes many forms. Identity thieves may rent an apartment, obtain a credit card, or establish a telephone account in your name. You may not find out about the theft until you review your credit report or a credit card statement and notice charges you didn’t make—or until you’re contacted by a debt collector.

Identity theft is serious. While some identity theft victims can resolve their problems quickly, others spend hundreds of dollars and many days repairing damage to their good name and credit record.  Some consumers victimized by identity theft may lose out on job opportunities, or be denied loans for education, housing or cars because of negative information on their credit reports. In rare cases, they may even be arrested for crimes they did not commit.

How do thieves steal an identity?
Identity theft starts with the misuse of your personally identifying information such as your name and Social Security number, credit card numbers, or other financial account information. For identity thieves, this information is as good as gold.


Skilled identity thieves may use a variety of methods to get hold of your information, including:

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 How can you find out if your identity was stolen?

The best way to find out is to monitor your accounts and bank statements each month, and check your credit report on a regular basis. If you check your credit report regularly, you may be able to limit the damage caused by identity theft. Unfortunately, many consumers learn that their identity has been stolen after some damage has been done.

What should you do if your identity is stolen?
Filing a police report, checking your credit reports, notifying creditors, and disputing any unauthorized transactions are some of the steps you must take immediately to restore your good name.

Should you file a police report if your identity is stolen?
A police report that provides specific details of the identity theft is considered an Identity Theft Report, which entitles you to certain legal rights when it is provided to the three major credit reporting agencies or to companies where the thief misused your information.  An Identity Theft Report can be used to permanently block fraudulent information that results from identity theft, such as accounts or addresses, from appearing on your credit report. It will also make sure these debts do not reappear on your credit reports. Identity Theft Reports can prevent a company from continuing to collect debts that result from identity theft, or selling them to others for collection. An Identity Theft Report is also needed to place an extended fraud alert on your credit report.

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In order for a police report to entitle you to the legal rights mentioned above, it must contain specific details about the identity theft.  You should file an ID Theft Complaint with the FTC and bring your printed ID Theft Complaint with you to the police station when you file your police report.  The printed ID Theft Complaint can be used to support your local police report to ensure that it includes the detail required.

A police report is also needed to get copies of the thief’s application, as well as transaction information from companies that dealt with the thief.  To get this information, you must submit a request in writing, accompanied by the police report, to the address specified by the company for this purpose.   

What can you do to help fight identity theft?
A great deal.  Awareness is an effective weapon against many forms identity theft. Be aware of how information is stolen and what you can do to protect yours, monitor your personal information to uncover any problems quickly, and know what to do when you suspect your identity has been stolen.

Armed with the knowledge of how to protect yourself and take action, you can make identity thieves' jobs much more difficult. You can also help fight identity theft by educating your friends, family, and members of your community. The FTC has prepared a collection of easy-to-use materials to enable anyone regardless of existing knowledge about identity theft to inform others about this serious crime. To learn more, go here:

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/consumers/deter-detect-defend.html

 

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Winter Driving in WI

Winter is a beautiful time of the year, especially when a fresh layer of new snow covers everything.

Winter can also be a very dangerous time of the year. If you plan on traveling during the winter, it pays to be prepared for the unexpected. Getting stranded during a winter storm can be a matter of life and death.
Simply following a few simple driving habits like planning ahead, driving at a safe and legal speed, driving alert and sober and buckling up could insure that you make it to your destination safely.

If you must use your car during a storm:

Be courteous to those awaiting your arrival:

 

Article from: http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/safety/motorist/winterdriving/

 

 

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Avoid Decorating Hazards

Very few things are as unique to the winter holiday season as the custom of decorating your home and yard.

Findings from a 2013 ESFI consumer survey indicate that more than 86% of Americans decorate their homes as part of their winter holiday celebrations. Almost two-thirds of respondents use electric lights in their indoor decorating scheme, while more than half use lighted decorations outside their homes.  More than 60% of those who decorate their homes for the holiday utilize at least one extension cord.

While holiday lighting and electrical decorations do contribute to the splendor of the season, they can also significantly increase the risk fires and electrical injuries if not used safely.  Given these safety hazards, it is crucial that safety is a foremost concern. 

ESFI provides these resources to help you prevent serious electrical and fire hazards while decorating your home and yard this season:

 

Article from: http://esfi.org/index.cfm/pid/11991

 

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Information and recommendations are compiled from sources believed to be reliable. The Sheriff’s Office  makes no guarantee as to and assumes no responsibility for the correctness, sufficiency or completeness of such information or recommendations. Other or additional safety measures may be required under particular circumstances.