Protecting your Identity
The number of Americans who have experienced identity theft has surpassed 27 million, with the incidence rate increasing every year. Substantial measures are in place at your bank to protect your identity and your accounts against theft and fraud. For example, stringent bank privacy policies protect your personal and financial information. Password protection for online transactions helps assure online security. When using our online services, you develop a secret password that only you know. Encryption of online transactions with your bank converts your information into secure code, protecting you against hackers.
Maximum security is possible only with your help. Here’s what you can do to stop these crimes before they happen:
Credit Reporting Bureaus
Place a fraud report: 1-888-766-0008
Order a credit report: 1-800-685-1111
Place a fraud report: 1-888-397-3742
Order a credit report: 1-888-397-3742
Place a fraud report: 1-800-680-7289
Order a credit report: 1-800-888-4213
The bottom line: If you have any questions or concerns about protecting your financial identity, come in and visit your banker.
FACT Act will help fight identity theft Free credit report, other provisions help customers
The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act) will help reduce identity theft according to Congress and the Federal Trade Commission. For example, one provision requires the three major credit-reporting agencies to provide consumers with a free copy of their own credit report. The requirement took effect December 2004, with phase-in over nine months from West to East. By September 2005, all parts of the country will be covered.
Another provision to help prevent identity theft is the National Fraud Alert System. Consumers, who reasonably suspect they have been or may be victimized by identity theft, or who are military personnel on active duty away from home, can place an alert on their credit files. The alert will put potential creditors on notice that they must proceed with caution when granting credit.
Other measures will help consumers recover their credit reputation after they have been victimized:
Credit reporting agencies must stop reporting allegedly fraudulent account information when a consumer establishes that he or she has been the victim of identity theft;
Creditors or businesses must provide copies of business records or fraudulent accounts or transactions related to them. This information can assist victims in proving that they are, in fact, victims.
Consumers will be allowed to report accounts affected by identity theft directly to creditors-in addition to credit reporting agencies-to prevent the spread of erroneous information.
How to obtain a free credit report:
Guard Against Identity Theft
Steps you can take to avoid being the next victim!
How serious is the Problem?
Government officials call identity theft “the fastest growing crime in the nation”, with over 40,000 people affected last year alone. The average financial loss to an identity fraud victim is estimated at $36,000.
Thieves obtain personal information such as, social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, credit card numbers and even birth certificates and passports. Accounts are then opened in the victims’ name for credit cards and loans with the mail diverted to a different address.
With this approach, it could take months or years to learn that you are a victim. Pay attention to the tips listed below.
How to guard against it
Remove mail promptly from your mailbox. Never use your mailbox for outgoing mail. Identity thieves raid mailboxes to steal credit card offers and financial statements. Guard you social security number. Do not give out personal information like PIN or credit card numbers over the phone or the internet unless you initiated the transaction. Identity thieves often call you posing as an internet provider or credit card company to gain knowledge of your accounts. Be very careful with receipts. Make sure you have them when you leave a store or ATM and do not throw them into a public trash can. Thieves use these receipts to access your accounts.
Review your credit report from time to time. For a nominal fee, the credit bureau will give you a copy to review. The major credit bureaus are:
Equifax: 800-685-1111 (www.equifax.com)
Experian: 888-397-3742 (www.experian.com)
Trans Union: 800-888-4213 (www.tuc.com)
What to do if you are a victim
Contact your credit card company and your financial institution and close your accounts. The FBI suggests that you put passwords (not your mother’s maiden name) on any new accounts you open. Call the three major credit bureaus (numbers shown below) to tell them your identity has been stolen. Request that a “fraud alert” be placed on your file and that no new credit be granted without your approval.
Trans Union: 800-680-7289
Call the Social Security Fraud Hotline: 800-269-0271
Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) theft hotline: 1-877-438-4338 www.consumer.gov/idtheft
You should not only file a report with the police, but also get a copy of the report in case you need proof of the crime later for credit card companies etc.
If your checks are used fraudulently:
National Processing Company: 800-526-5380