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County of Sonoma California
Office of the District Attorney

Identity Theft

The Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office is committed to fighting identity theft by participating in regional efforts to identify and prosecute those responsible for this crime.

Identity theft is a crime that has substantially increased in recent years. The Better Business Bureau estimates that identity theft causes $52.6 billion in economic damage each year with an average of 9.3 million victims. It is one of the fastest growing crimes that directly affect our economy.

Personal information such as name, date of birth and social security numbers can be stolen or copied and used to open accounts, establish credit and run up debts that the victim doesn’t know about. It is difficult sometimes to find a suspect because the person who obtains the personal information is often different from the person who uses the information.

The District Attorney’s Office is committed to protecting the community from identity theft. As with all types of fraud, however, the most effective protection is a consumer’s own awareness and vigilance.

If you believe somebody has stolen your identity, California law entitles you to relief. Your local police agency — or the agency where the crime took place — must take a police report from you, and must provide you with a copy of that report to help clear your name. In cases of imposters creating false criminal histories for innocent victims, the law provides a system for clearing your good name and correcting state criminal history records.

Sonoma County District Attorney Identity Theft Brochure

Sonoma County District Attorney Identity Theft Brochure

Download Identity Theft Brochure (PDF: 68 kB)

Financial Identity Theft

The following steps will help you block negative information resulting from fraud and reclaim control over your credit and criminal history records:

  • Gather as much information as you can about disputed credit data or other indications of identity theft.
  • Immediately close all your credit card accounts and notify the banks of the theft.
  • Report the alleged crime to your local police or sheriff’s department and ask the officer to write a police report of the incident.
  • Ask for a copy of the police report and make photocopies.
  • Send a copy of the police report, with a letter of explanation, to each of the three major credit bureaus: Experian (formerly TRW), Equifax, and Trans Union (See Contact Information). Once the credit bureaus receive a copy of the police report, California law requires them to block negative credit information resulting from the alleged fraud.
  • Continue to ask for copies of your credit reports regularly for at least several months to check for any new fraudulent accounts.
  • If your Social Security number was used fraudulently, report the problem to:
    Contact:
    Social Security Administration’s Fraud Hotline
    Phone:
    (800) 269-0271

Criminal Identity Theft

If you believe your identifying information was used to create an erroneous criminal history, contact:

Contact:
California Department of Justice
Phone:
(888) 880-0240

Provide the Department of Justice with a copy of the police report and other supporting information.

Consult a lawyer to determine if you should go to court to use the new procedures now available for obtaining a judge’s order indicating that you are innocent of the criminal identity theft at issue.

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