Identity Theft Education
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing types of financial fraud. Anyone can be a victim but there are some precautions you can take to safeguard your personal and financial identity.
1. Shred financial documents and paperwork with personal information before you discard them.
2. Protect your Social Security number. Don't carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write your Social Security number on a check. Only give the number when absolutely necessary or ask to use another identifier.
3. Order copies of your credit report once a year to ensure they are accurate. The law requires the major nationwide consumer reporting companies- Equifax, Experian and TransUnion-to give you a free copy of our credit report each year if you ask for it.
4. Use a strong password - a combination of letters and numbers… and avoiding obvious passwords such as your birth date, mother's maiden name or your home address. If your password is easy for you to remember, chances are good it is also easy for an Internet hacker to figure out.
5. Be alert to signs that require immediate attention such as bills that do not arrive as expected, unexpected credit cards or account statements, denials of credit for no reason, or calls or letters about purchases you did not make.
6. Review your financial accounts and billing statements regularly, looking for charges you did not make. A recent study showed that customers who monitor their accounts online (rather than just mailed statements) discover problems sooner.
If you suspect you may be a victim of ID theft, defend against it.
1. Place an alert on your account and call one of the three credit reporting agencies and ask them to flag your credit file for fraud. Within 24 hours, an alert will be attached to your credit file and your name will be removed from pre-approved credit and insurance applications for two years. (Active duty members of the military are eligible for a "Military Fraud Alert." This alert allows members of the military on active duty to prevent anyone from opening accounts in their name while they are overseas.)
2. Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union (the three credit-reporting agencies) share data, so after calling one company, the other two will be notified.
3. If you need to apply for a loan during the period that your credit file is on alert, notify your lender.
4. To remove a fraud alert, you will need to send requests in writing to one of the three credit-reporting agencies.
For more information about identity theft, visit the following websites: