The Criminal Investigations Unit is is the primary investigative branch of the police department and works closely with our patrol officers, as well as with other local, county, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. Investigations personnel has received extensive training on all aspects of criminal investigations to include, distraction theft, financial crimes, computer crimes, narcotics and money laundering investigation. Our investigators are also trained and specialize in Interview and Interrogation techniques.
Three of the Town’s investigators are assigned to the following task forces, D.E.A., I.R.S., and the South Florida Money Laundering Task Force. The investigator assigned to the Town works closely with our residents who are contacted and kept up-to-date regarding their investigation. The investigator’s primary responsibility is the deterrence of crime and the apprehension of criminals.
Crime Prevention Tips
What is identity Theft?
Your everyday transactions reveal bits of personal information such as your bank and credit card account numbers, income, social Security Number (SSN_, name, address and phone numbers. An identity thief obtains personal information and uses it without your knowledge to commit fraud or theft. Once your identity has been stolen, it can take months or even years to clean up the mess criminals make of your finances, credit and good name. Although you cannot completely ensure that identity theft does not happen to you, many precautions can be taken to lesson the chances. keep reading to learn more about preventing identify theft.
How Does Identity Theft Occur?The first step to preventing identity theft is understanding how it occurs. Identity thieves will use a variety of methods to access your personal information, including the following.
- Obtaining information from businesses or other institutions by stealing records, bribing an employee or hacking into the organizations computers
- Rummaging through trash at private residences or businesses
- Obtaining credit reports by posing as someone who has legal rights to this information, such as a landlord or employer
- Using special information storage devices to steal credit and debit card numbers while processing transactions
- Stealing purses or wallets to get identification and credit and bank cards
- Stealing mail which contains personal information such as bank or credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers, new checks or tax information
- Completing a change of address form to divert victims mail to a new location
- Stealing personal information from private residences
- Posing as a business person or government official to get you to voluntarily give out information
What Do Thieves Do With This Information?Once thieves obtain your information, they make take a variety of actions, including the following:
- Using your credit card and debit card numbers to buy expensive items easily resold, such as computers
- Using your information to open new credit card accounts. When the bills are never paid, this will negatively impact your credit report
- Changing the mailing address on your credit card account then running up charges on the account
- Because you re no longer receiving the bills, it may take you awhile to realize there is a problem
- Taking out auto loans in your name
- Establishing phone or wireless service in your name
- Counterfeit checks or debit cards, and drain your bank account
- Open a bank account in your name and write bad checks from that account
- File for bankruptcy under your name to avoid paying debts they’ve incurred, or to avoid eviction
- Give your name to the police during an arrest, If they are released and don’t show up for their court date, an arrest warrant will be issued in your name
How Do I Tell If My Identity Has Been Stolen?A main way to recognize identity theft is by tracking the balances of all financial accounts, looking for unexplained charges or withdrawals. Other methods of identifying this crime include:
- Bills or financial statements failing to arrive on time, indicating a thief may have changed your address
- Receiving credit cards you never applied for
- Denial of credit for no apparent reason
- Receving calls from debt collectors or companies about merchandise or services you did not buy
What Other Steps Can I Take To Prevent Identity Theft?Regularly order your credit reports from all three major agencies.
- Equifax – www.equifax.com 1-800-685-1111
- Experian – www.experian.com 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion – www.transunion.com 1-800-916-8800
What if My ID Has Already Been Stolen?If your personal information has already been stolen, follow these four steps immediately. Make sure you follow up all phone calls with letters sent return receipt requested. make copies of any letters for your personal files.
- Put a fraud alert on your credit report and review your credit report. Call any of the three credit bureaus and place a fraud alert on your account. This will prevent the identity thief from opening additional accounts in your name. Once you have identified one bureau, it will notify the three others. All three credit reports will be sent to you. Once you receive the credit report, review it to locate any errors. Notify the credit bureau by telephone and in writing. you should continue to check your credit reports periodically over the first year after you discover theft.
- Close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
Credit accounts include all accounts with banks, credit card companies and other lenders, and phone companies, utilities, internet service providers and other service providers.
If you are closing existing accounts and opening new ones, use new Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) and passwords.
If there are fraudulent charges or debris, ask the company about the following forms for disputing those transactions.
For new unauthorized accounts, ask if the company accepts the ID Theft Affidavit (available atwww.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/affidavit.pdf). if they don’t, ask the representative to send you the company’s fraud dispute forms.
Protect Yourself: Manage Your Personal Information!
The best way you can prevent identity theft is by excersicing caution in all your daily activities. For example:
- Use passwords to protect your credit card, bank and phone accounts
- Never use password which are easy to guess or contain personal information
- Secure any personal information you store at home
- Find out about information security procedure at your work. Who has access to your records? Are they securly stored? What is the disposal policy?
- Don’t give out perosnal information over the phone, through the mail or over the internet unless you initiated contact
- Whenever possible, deposit outgoing mail in the post office collection boxes ora t the local post office rather than an unsecured box
- remove mial from the box promptly
- If you will be away from home for an extended time call the U.S. Postal Service at 1-800-275-8777 to request a vacation hold
- Shred all documents which may contain personal information such as bank statements and other financial information before placing in trash
- Keep your Social Security card in a secure place and only give your SSN when absolutely necessary – Always ask if you can give an alternate number
- Minimize the identification information and number of cards you carry
- Keep your purse or wallet in a safe place at work
Using Your Computer Safely
For identity thieves, your computer is a goldmine of personal information. Follow these tips to safeguard your computer:
- Regularly update your virus protection software – Some viruses cause your computer to export personal information
- Never open a virus or link provided by a stranger – It could open your computer to a virus or hijacker
- Only use a secure browser
- Only store financial informaion on your computer if absolutely necessary
- before you dispose of a computer, completely erase the hard drive with a program for this purpose