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Sedona Police Chief on Identity Theft and Fraud

Article submitted by City of Sedona AZ

Article written by Chief of Police Raymond O. Cota and submitted by the City of Sedona AZ

Sedona AZ (September 9, 2015)According to Javelin Strategy and Research, a company that conducts in-depth research and studies on consumer fraud and security, 12.7 million Americans became a victim of identity fraud in 2014. This number translates to someone becoming a victim of identity fraud nearly every 2 seconds. The losses experienced by these victims in 2014 totaled $16 billion.

While identity theft and fraud occurrences in Sedona do not happen with this same level of frequency, the financial and emotional impact that they can have on a victim can be extremely significant. Police reports on these incidents have shown concerning increases in recent years.

The below table shows the number of identity theft and fraud incidents that were reported to the Sedona Police Department since 2011:Ray Cota 2

Identity theft is violation of law detailed in Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS 13-2008 and ARS 13-2009), and in accordance with those laws, an identity theft police report can be made in any jurisdiction whether or not the theft or the subsequent loss occurred within that jurisdiction (e.g., your identity is stolen in Sedona and the loss occurs in Flagstaff; the report can be made in either location). Keep in mind that making a local police report is often just the first step you may need to take in addressing and recovering from an incident of identity theft.

The Federal Trade Commission is the U.S. Government agency with the responsibility of receiving and processing complaints of identity theft. The FTC has a website (www.identitytheft.gov) to make the process a bit less confusing. That website has a simple electronic checklist to follow if you suspect you are a victim of identity theft. The FTC also produces a handbook, called “Taking Charge: What to do if your identity is stolen” and other brochures on identity theft. These publications will be available in the front lobby of the Sedona Police Department shortly.

Individuals can help prevent becoming a victim of identity theft by following these tips:

  • Collect your mail daily, and as close to delivery as possible. If you will be out of town, request the U.S. Postal Service hold delivery until your return.
  • Place a lock on your mailbox or replace it with a lockable mailbox.
  • Take your outgoing mail to the Post Office instead of placing it your unsecured mailbox.
  • Shred documents that contain any personal identifying information, including account numbers, social security numbers, birthdates, etc.
  • Check your credit report annually. A free copy is available through www.annualcreditreport.com. Be aware there are many other sites that claim to offer free credit reports. This is the official one set up by the big three credit reporting agencies and authorized by U.S. law.
  • Review bank and credit statements frequently. Begin the dispute process for unauthorized charges as soon as practical.
  • Verify any phone calls, emails, or texts received that appear to be from a company you do business with. If they are requesting personal information, and you did not initiate the call, be very cautious about providing it. Call the company back at a known, publicly available phone number. Do not assume any number provided by them is the valid corporate office.
  • Keep your computer’s software up to date, and utilize security software to protect from viruses and other threats.

Theft by means of fraud is also violation of Arizona criminal law and should be reported to the Sedona Police Department. Quite often victims of these crimes may be embarrassed or believe little can be done to solve the crime or recover their losses. Law Enforcement agencies have numerous resources available to them to investigate incidents of fraud and can be successful in recovering stolen funds. It is very important that individuals or businesses that suspect that they may have been the victim of a fraud to make a report to the Sedona Police Department.

Here are a few situations that are indications that a fraud may be occurring:

  • An unsolicited, unexpected phone call or email is received identifying an urgent issue that needs immediate resolution. Examples are:
    Unpaid bills or taxes
    Compromise of home computer
    “Out of town” family member in need of assistance.
  • A large amount of pressure is applied to deal with the situation immediately. Pressure can be applied through:
    Threats of jail or imprisonment if immediate action is not taken
    Special discount price available only if acted upon immediately
    Threatening tones and foul/inappropriate language
  • Many calls are international in origin. Therefore, scam phone callers may have heavy accents and a poor grasp of the English language.
  • Payment is requested through money transfer or prepaid cards.
  • Many scammers do not have supporting information, such as account numbers or other even the recipients full name.

Remember, should you suspect that you may be the victim of identity theft or fraud or believe that someone is attempting to steal your identity or commit a fraud against you, call the Sedona Police Department immediately. Our officers and support personnel are dedicated to ensuring your safety and protecting you against crime.

Sedona City Hall is open for business Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and closed on Fridays. The Municipal Court and Wastewater system maintenance remain on a Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule. Police and maintenance services are not impacted.

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  1. Phil says:

    nice of the Chief to write this, a good guy

  2. Betty says:

    Thank You Chief Cota for very good information, and Your protection.
    I hope You don’t mind but I’ve copied your article to my documents for furture reference for myself and friends.

  3. Judy Stein says:

    Just another example of how dedicated to quality of service our sedona PD is. Thank you chief Cota

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