Identity Theft - What if it Happens to You?

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posted 10/3/2011 in Personal Banking

Identity Theft - What if it Happens to You?

Identity Theft is the fastest growing crime in the U.S. and criminals are out to steal your most valuable asset, your identity. The theft of your identity could occur in various ways such as when you write a check at the store, rent a car or apply for a credit card; however they could also steal you mail, rummage through your trash or obtain your information through phishing online. The criminal's main goal is to obtain as much of the following key pieces of information and 4 out of 5 identity theft victims have no idea how the thief obtained their information:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Date of Birth
  • Social Security Number
  • Mother's Maiden Name

This personal information may be all a criminal needs to steal your identity and possibly open new credit or financial accounts, buy cars, apply for loans or Social Security benefits, rent an apartment, or set up utility and phone service - all in your name without you even knowing it.

How to Protect your Identity...

  • Deposit your mail directly at the post office, at a postal mail drop location or give directly to your mail carrier.
  • Shred or destroy any unwanted documents that contain personal information before discarding of them, such as pre-approved credit card offers.
  • Review your Credit Report Annually. You are entitled to one free credit report from each of the three credit reporting companies once per year. (Link to credit report section of our website).
  • Never give out personal information over the phone or internet unless you initiated the contact. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Remember you identity is your most valuable asset and it is your job to protect it.
  • Report lost or stolen cards immediately to the issuer.
  • Sign your new credit/debit cards, don't allow the criminal to sign your name for you.
  • Memorize your Social Security Number and password; don't carry them with you. Choose unique passwords; don't choose passwords such as your date of birth.
  • Always take your receipts with you, never leave them behind at a gas station or ATM.
  • Know when to expect your bills and replacement credit and/or debit cards. If you notice that you haven't received them in a timely manner, follow up with the company to ensure your address has not been changed without your permission.
  • Match credit card receipts against the statement to ensure accuracy.
  • Reduce the circulation of pre-screened credit offers by calling 1.888.5OPTOUT.

You suspect your Identity has been stolen, Now What?

  • Place a fraud alert on your credit reports by contacting Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Fraud alerts can help prevent additional accounts from being opened by the identity thief.
  • Close all accounts which you know or believe have been compromised or opened fraudulently. If you notice unauthorized transactions on your accounts, call the company immediately to begin resolving the unauthorized transactions.
  • If the crime involved the U.S. Mail, report it to your nearest U.S. Postal Inspection Service office.
  • Keep a record of the names and phone numbers of everyone you speak with including all reports and supporting documents you receive. Also keep track of the time and money you spend in trying to straighten out the theft of your identity.
  • File a report with your local police or in the area in which the identity theft took place.
  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). A complaint can be filed at www.consumer.gov/idtheft or by calling the toll-free at 1.877.438.4338. Once you submit your complaint, be sure to update it if you become aware of any additional information after the original filing. The FTC has counselors available to help your resolve financial and other problems that can result from Identity Theft.

Additional Information: Take Charge: Fighting Back Against Identity Theft is a detailed information guide regarding identity theft and samples of charts, forms and letters which will be beneficial in getting your identity back and is provided by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).