ID Theft Prevention
Identity theft involves the use of stolen personal information, such as a Social Security number or bank account number, to open new accounts or complete multiple transactions in your name. This can cause damage to your credit and cost you money.
If fraudulent transactions occur on your account, it does not necessarily mean your identity was stolen. It may be an isolated incident of identity fraud that can be quickly resolved. Identity fraud is usually limited to fraudulent transactions on an existing account. For example, a charge on a stolen debit card.
How do identity theft and identity fraud happen?
The majority of identity theft and fraud occurs offline, not online. Fraudsters can use stolen wallets, rerouted and pilfered mail, or unshredded documents they find in the trash to steal your identity. They can also obtain personal information via online methods such as phishing or Web site spoofing.
Follow these tips to help protect yourself from fraud.
Keep it Private
- Do not share your Social Security number, account numbers, driver's license number, or other sensitive personal information with any person or company you do not know or are unable to verify as legitimate. Only share the information if it is absolutely necessary.
- Never respond to an unsolicited request for your personal information.
- Shred documents containing confidential personal information. Don't just throw them out.
- Never lend your identification, credit or debit card to anyone.
Protect your Mail
The majority of fraud and identity theft incidents happen as a result of mail and garbage theft, so it is important to know how to prevent this.
- Safeguard your mail by using a locking mailbox or a post office box.
- Consider signing up for eStatements where it is available and making payments through Bill Pay instead of by check.
- Place outgoing mail in a U.S. Post Office mailbox to reduce the chance of mail theft.
- Know your billing and statement cycles. Contact the company's customer service department if you stop receiving your regular bill or statement.
- Review your credit report at least once a year, looking for suspicious or unknown transactions. You can get a free credit report once a year from each of the three major credit bureaus at www.annualcreditreport.com.
- When in doubt about a transaction, contact your bank immediately.
Learn more about reporting fraud.