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Stolen Mail - Stolen Indentities in Sonoma County

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Stolen Mail - Stolen Indentities
in Sonoma County

Two Woman Charged with Identify Theft Following Discovery of Stolen Mail During Routine Traffic Stop

Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch announced today that Teresa Goode, 32, from Santa Rosa, and Nikki Sproul, 28, from Rohnert Park, were arrested and charged with 20 criminal counts relating to identity theft.  The women were discovered in possession of large amounts of stolen mail belonging to up to 190 different potential victims during a routine traffic stop in November of 2014.

Teresa Goode was charged with identity theft on January 16th, 2015 in Department 2 of the Sonoma County Superior Court.  Ms. Goode was also charged with an enhancement for being out on bail on another similar offense at the time she was arrested for the later crimes. A warrant remains outstanding for Nikki Sproul, who has failed to appear in court on a separate matter involving possession of stolen identification. Sproul will be formally charged on the current matter when arrested on the outstanding warrant. The Victim Services Division of the District Attorney’s Office has sent written correspondence to all 190 potential victims to offer assistance.

The case was investigated by the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department.

“Our office is committed to fighting identity theft and assisting the people of Sonoma County in protecting themselves from these types of crimes,” said District Attorney Jill Ravitch.  “The practices outlined here may to reduce the chances of being victimized by identity thieves.”

  • Collect your Mail Promptly.  Identify thieves are likely to target uncollected mail.  Ask the Post Office to hold your mail if you go on vacation for more than a day or two.  Do not put bill payments in your mailbox on the street and put the red flag up, but drop them in a mail receptacle
  • Shred your information.  Shred unwanted credit card offers, expired cards, account statements and receipts to prevent dumpster divers from collecting your personal information.  Do not throw away receipts or any other financial information that are not shredded.
  • Protect your Social Security number.  Don’t carry your Social Security card with you or write the number on your checks.  Only give out your SSN when absolutely necessary.
  • Monitor your Financial Accounts.  As often as possible, review your bank and credit card statements for unauthorized charges.  Report any suspicious charges to your financial institution immediately. 
  • Credit Report.  Check your credit report once a year.  Check it more frequently if you suspect someone has gotten access to your information.
  • Create Strong Passwords.  Create different passwords for each account.  Strong passwords contain a combination of letters, numbers and special characters.  Avoid using commonly obtained information like birthdates and nicknames as your password.
  • Use Wi-Fi with Caution.  Publically available Wi-Fi connections are usually unsecured and therefore vulnerable to hacking.
  • Protect your PIN. Never write a PIN on a credit/debit card or on a slip of paper in your wallet.
  • Watch out for Shoulder Surfers.  Use your free hand at the ATM to shield the keypad when entering your PIN.
  • Store Personal Information in a Safe Place.  Don’t leave your information lying around at home or at work.
  • Invest in a Secure, Lockable Mailbox.  Prevent theft of mail by using a mailbox that requires a key.
  • Don’t Give out Personal Information Over the Phone.  Identity Thieves often call, posing as bank or government agencies.  Don’t give out your information unless you initiate the call.

Please note that criminal charges are allegations against individuals and, as with all defendants, these defendants must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.