Take Steps to Protect Yourself
It’s crucial that all our customers understand identity theft – what it is, how to protect yourself, and what to do if you think you might be a victim.
Understanding Identity Theft
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information, like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.
Identity thieves may rent an apartment, obtain a credit card, or establish a telephone account in your name. You may not find out about the theft until you review your credit report or a credit card statement and notice charges you didn’t make—or until you’re contacted by a debt collector.
While some identity theft victims can resolve their problems quickly, others are forced to spend significant amounts of time and money repairing damage to their good name and credit record. Some consumers victimized by identity theft may lose out on job opportunities, or be denied loans for education, housing or cars because of negative information on their credit reports.
Identity theft starts with the misuse of your personally identifying information such as your name and Social Security number, credit card numbers, or other financial account information. For identity thieves, this information is as good as gold. Skilled identity thieves may use a variety of methods to get hold of your information, including:
- Dumpster Diving: They rummage through trash looking for bills or other paper with your personal information on it.
- Skimming: They steal credit/debit card numbers by using a special storage device when processing your card.
- Phishing: They pretend to be financial institutions or companies and send spam or pop-up messages to get you to reveal your personal information.
- Changing Your Address: They divert your billing statements to another location by completing a change of address form.
- Old-Fashioned Stealing: They steal wallets and purses; mail, including bank and credit card statements; pre-approved credit offers; and new checks or tax information. They steal personnel records, or bribe employees who have access.
- Pretexting: They use false pretenses to obtain your personal information from financial institutions, telephone companies, and other sources.
Here are some common identity theft warning signs:
- Unauthorized charges appear on your checking account or credit card statement.
- Accounts appear on your credit report that you did not open.
- You receive a call from a collection agency asking why you have not paid a bill.
- You receive a call from a financial institution regarding an account you did not open.
- You haven’t received your bills or credit card statements when they normally arrive.
- Your bank statements show unauthorized transfers or withdrawals.
You are in the best position to protect your own identity by taking some basic precautions. The list that follows suggests some of the things you can do.
- Check your credit report at least once a year to identity accounts that may have been opened in your name without your knowledge. You can get a copy of your credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com every twelve months.
- Use passwords on all accounts and devices that are difficult to guess, and don’t use the same password for everything. Don’t use passwords that relate to family names, birth dates, your SSN, addresses, or your job.
- Do not keep passwords on you, and don’t write them on debit or ATM cards.
- Be absolutely positive of the identity of anyone telephoning you to request personal information. Be especially cautious of anyone claiming to be a law enforcement official. Arrange to call the person back, using a phone number you can verify in the phone book.
- Review your monthly statements promptly and carefully and immediately report anything that you question, or if the bill does not arrive on time.
- Shred or tear up your charge receipts, credit card solicitations, expired cards, statements, checks and other sensitive personal information.
- Be careful and mindful of who is around you at ATMs and when using phone cards. “Shoulder surfers” can get your PIN number and gain access to your account.
If you believe the fraudulent activity is limited to your Bank of Canton account(s), contact us immediately at 888.828.1690.
If you believe you are victim of identity theft that extends beyond your Bank of Canton account(s), consider taking the following steps:
- Contact the major credit bureaus and request they place a fraud alert on your account. You only need to contact one, they will contact the other two.
- Contact the creditors or bank for any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
- Contact the police department to report the crime and be sure to request a copy of the report.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission at https://identitytheft.gov/ to make a report and review their helpful hints when dealing with identity theft.
- Keep records of who you talk to, summaries of conversations and documentary evidence of the crime.
- Carefully review all your accounts. Identity theft takes time to completely resolve, so you should continue to carefully review all charges and transactions appearing on account statements and online.