San Diego’s Police Chief William Lansdowne provided the council with an informational report to raise awareness on the severity and increasing occurrence of identity theft.
Identity theft is defined by the city as a crime in which an imposter obtains key pieces of personal identifying information and uses them for personal gain. San Diego established an Identity Theft Unit in 1994 with the goal of reducing credit card fraud, medical identity theft and other forms of financial theft.
The unit takes several actions to reduce the threat which continues to increase as criminals adapt their techniques. One of these approaches is to provide assistance to citizens and businesses by referring them to agencies that investigate these types of crimes. They also train citizens on how to limit their liability. Taking precautions like securing your social security number, driver’s license, and medical records can limit liability. There are over 3000 complaints of identity theft each year in San Diego despite community education efforts by the Economic Crime Unit. Every case that comes through the city may not be fully investigated by the task force, but all are reviewed by at least one of the six members of staff.