By Brian CHERNICK
Glendale Police Dept. has been witnessing a significant drop in identity theft reports filed since February with October achieving a nearly 50% reduction, year-over-year, bringing 2017 on pace to be one of the city’s lowest in a decade.
According to the department’s Monthly Crime Statistics and Activity Reports, incidents of identity theft had steadily risen over 273% in the four-year period from 2011 to its peak in 2015 of 754 incidents reported. As of October, Glendale PD had received 365 reports of identity theft in the city, down from 671 the same time the prior year.
Sergeant Dan Suttles, who oversaw the department’s Financial Crimes Unit from 2012 until 2016, could only speculate on the fluctuation and pointed to 2011’s Assembly Bill 109 and 2014’s Proposition 47, two pieces of legislation that reduced penalties for certain nonviolent crimes, to try and understand the peak in 2015.
“When I was there, (identity theft) was quite the issue,” Suttles said. “We have had a lot overall in the nation.”
The spike, however, had outpaced the nation, which, according to reports from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), saw an increase of about 175% within the same four-year period. California ranks fourth in number of complaints of identity theft reported to the FTC with 54,744 filed in 2016.
The nation has been experiencing an unprece-dented number of incidents of massive security breaches over the past five years, from Target and Home Depot’s payment system breaches in 2013 and 2014 to Equifax’s exposure of over 145 million U.S. consumers’ private financial information. After reporting security breaches of this kind, companies will typically provide credit and identity tracking services to affected consumers, which might help mitigate identity theft. However, the reduction in reports might be an indication of underreporting.
“A lot of people don’t report it,” Suttles said, stating that individuals who find suspicious activity on their account might just be contacting their financial institutions and reporting it there instead of to the police department.