WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) – Identity thieves are targeting Wausau residents more than ever this year, police say.
Wausau police have reported at least 40 identity theft cases this year and officials say they are on track to break last year’s total of 200 cases. By comparison, the department responded to just four identity theft cases in 1995, said Captain Greg Hagenbucher. He said police receive an identity theft case at least once every three days.
A majority of the cases involve thieves using a victim’s credit card number, according to police department records. Victims have also reported cases where thieves used their identities to withdraw money from a bank, open a loan, get cable and even receive medical care at the hospital.
“Everybody’s a potential victim because everybody’s got a Social Security number, a birthday and a name,” Hagenbucher said. “You’re a potential victim if you’re just out there.”
Police say you can protect your identity by not carrying your Social Security card in your wallet and keeping an eye on your credit cards when you are at a store. Hagenbucher also recommends closely reviewing your bank statements and to do business with someone you trust.
If your identity is stolen, report it to the police immediately. Wausau police will take a report if any element of the crime happened in the city, Hagenbucher said. Police also forward every identity theft case to the FBI.
You should also report the crime directly to the FBI through its Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov. Police say you should then begin the process of canceling credit cards, notifying banks and other creditors.
For more information:
Social Security administration hotline: 1-800-269-0271
Wisconsin Office of Privacy Protection: www.privacy.wi.gov