A member of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office since 1977, Greg Munks was elected to his second term as sheriff in early 2012. He serves the county as its chief law enforcement officer, chairs its Vehicle Theft Task Force, and chairs the executive board of the Northern California Regional Terrorism Assessment Center. Sheriff Gregory Munks also serves on several additional boards related to law enforcement, as well as organizations of law enforcement professionals, including the California State Sheriffs’ Association and the International Chiefs of Police. Among Sheriff Greg Munks’ many responsibilities as county sheriff is the safety of the county’s people and their property from predators both in person and online, and his office has issued guidelines for the avoidance of identity theft, one of the nation’s fastest-growing crimes.
Identity theft is the acquisition by criminals of enough personal data to enable them to impersonate their victims for the purpose of accessing their financial accounts and/or committing financial fraud such as fraudulently applying for credit in their names. Identity thieves are clever and constantly devise new ways to acquire victims’ information, from stealing mail from mailboxes to using confederates in restaurants to capture the data from the magnetic strip on credit cards. Identity thieves also hack computers using public Wi-Fi facilities in hopes of capturing the login codes people use to access bank and other financial accounts.
The sheriff’s website lists numerous steps which consumers can take to help prevent identity theft, including getting a locking mailbox, mailing bill payments from secure locations such as the post office or a locked collection box, opting out of preapproved offers of credit, and shredding those that do arrive, as well as using a secure browser when shopping or banking online. In addition, consumers should take advantage of legal protections to order free annual credit reports from each of the three credit bureaus, as well as order their annual earnings report from the Social Security Administration to ensure against misuse of their social security numbers. Further suggestions on dealing with identity theft are available on the sheriff’s department website at www.smcsheriff.com/safety-information/identity-theft.