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CHIPS Articles: Identity theft is America's fastest-growing crime

Identity theft is America's fastest-growing crime
By U.S. Postal Inspection Service - June 23, 2015
Due to the OPM data breach, CHIPS magazine continues to caution readers of the numerous scams criminal hackers use to steal your money and perhaps your ID.

Last year alone, more than 9.9 million Americans were victims of identity theft, a crime that cost them roughly $5 billion.

The number of ID theft victims and their total losses are probably much higher. It's hard to pin down, because law enforcement agencies may classify ID theft differently — it can involve credit card fraud, Internet fraud, or mail theft, among other crimes.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported that only 4 percent of victims cited stolen mail as the source of personal information. Even so, U.S. Postal Inspectors, charged with protecting the nation’s mail system from criminal misuse, are leaders in the fight against identity theft.

Postal Inspectors provide these ID theft tips:

-- Review your consumer credit reports annually.
-- Shred and destroy unwanted documents that contain personal information.
-- Deposit mail in U.S. Postal Service collection boxes.
-- Don’t leave mail in your mailbox overnight or on weekends.

If you’re a victim of identity theft and the U.S. Mail is involved, call your nearest Postal Inspection Service office. Contact information is available at: https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/. File a report with your local police and report identity theft online via the Federal Trade Commission: https://www.ftc.gov/complaint.

Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, 18 USC § 1028(a)(7)Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, 18 USC

Identity theft is a criminal offense. It occurs when a person knowingly transfers or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit or to aid or abet any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of federal law or that constitutes a felony under any applicable state or local law.

The U.S. Postal Service reaches every home and business in the country. The vast majority of the mail it delivers arrives intact, but thieves persist in their efforts to steal it.

Postal Inspectors use proven remedies to address the problem. They team with the Postal Service to devise new security strategies that thwart thieves. You can help by reporting suspected mail theft, mail fraud and identity theft.

U.S. mail fraud can include mailed sweepstakes, lotteries, online auctions, work-at-home scams, home improvement scams or chain letters, report your concern to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service as mail fraud.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is the federal law enforcement and security arm of the U.S. Postal Service.

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