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Ask an Officer: When Do Police Follow Up on Identity Theft Cases?

Officer Wayne Twombly answers questions from readers

Have a question you've always wanted to ask someone in law enforcement? Officer Wayne Twombly of the Fair Oaks Police District, which encompasses Oakton, will answer your question through our Ask an Officer feature. Readers submit questions and Officer Twombly responds. Send questions to Nicole.Trifone@patch.com or submit them in the comments section below.

Here is this week's question:

I was recently the victim of identity theft — someone took my credit card number and made a few purchases before I realized it and notified my credit card company, which immediately removed the charges from my account. Through a series of circumstances, I was able to identify parties who were likely involved in this theft and contacted the Fairfax County Police Department. As the charges occurred in Arlington and involved someone in another state, the Fairfax County Police told me there was nothing they could do and that essentially the credit card company was now the victim. (I also provided the information to my credit card company's fraud department, so they can follow up if they want to.) My question is this: With information about who is involved, why would the police department not want to follow up on this? I thought it might have to do with jurisdictions, but the officer handling my report told me that it would probably not be worth my time to contact Arlington and I'm wondering why.

In this case, the credit card company is the victim because they basically own the credit card. Once you were credited with the monies back into your account, they became the victim. And they, usually, will investigate themselves — and at times work with the police department. There are steps one can take to protect themselves. Don't carry your SSN card in your wallet or purse, call the "opt out" number — 888-567-8688 — to limit the pre-approved credit applications you receive in the mail. Don't mail your outgoing mail from the house. Use the post office or mail from your office. Use online banking rather than writing checks. Review credit card statements every few days. And, this is very important, learn to SHRED! Shred any financial papers you dispose of, such as statements and old checks.

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