We take fraud seriously and are committed to helping you protect your private, personal information. It is important to be aware of the dangers of identity theft so you can take the steps to avoid becoming another victim.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft occurs when criminals find a way to steal your personal or other identifying information and use that data to access your personal accounts, open new accounts, apply for credit, purchase merchandise, and commit other crimes using your identity.
Most people do not realize they are a victim of identity theft until they apply for credit or receive calls from debt collection agencies. The damage has already been done and trying to clear your name will take countless hours and result in many headaches.
Unfortunately, nothing can guarantee you will not become a victim of identity theft. There are ways you can minimize your risk and damages if a problem does occur by making it more difficult for these fraudsters to steal your sensitive information.
Ways to Minimize Your Risk of Identity Theft
- Monitor your accounts daily by using our online banking service or our mobile app.
- Protect your Social Security number – do not carry your Social Security card with you, keep it in a safe place at home and only give out when necessary.
- Update anti-virus and firewall settings on your computer.
- Do not use public Wi-Fi networks to do banking or access other personal information.
- Collect your mail daily. If you are going to be away from home for an extended period, place a hold on your mail with the USPS. Stolen mail crime is on the rise.
- Review your credit card and bank statements. If possible, sign up for electronic statements and limit paper statements being delivered to your home.
- Keep your personal information in a secure space at home. Limit items you keep in your purse or wallet.
- Shred account statements or documents containing personal or financial information before discarding.
- Create strong passwords for your online accounts – change them frequently and never use the same password for all your accounts.
- Protect your mobile devices by securing them with password, fingerprint, or facial recognition identification.
- Be alert to scammers contacting you via email, phone, or text messages. Unsolicited calls and emails are red flags.
- Never click on links sent in unsolicited emails or text messages. Instead, use an internet browser to search the company’s website.
- Utilize Annual Credit Report to check your credit report annually and look for any suspicious or unknown accounts. Federal law requires each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies (Equifax, Experian, Transunion) to give you a free credit report annually if you ask for it.
What Steps Should I Take if I Become a Victim of Identity Theft?
- Call any financial institutions you have accounts with and let them know your identity has been compromised.
- Change online banking credentials
- Close accounts that were or believe to have been compromised and open new accounts.
- Contact one of the three major credit bureaus and discuss whether you need to place a fraud alert on your file. This will help prevent the criminals from opening more accounts in your name. Whichever credit bureau you contact will contact the others. Also, request a copy of your credit report.
- Equifax - 800.525.6285
- Experian - 888.397.3742
- TransUnion - 800.680.7289
- File a Complaint with the Federal Trade Commission – this will provide valuable information that can help law enforcement officials across the country track down identity theft criminals and stop them.
Federal Trade Commission - FTC Identity Theft Hotline – 877.ID.THEFT (1.877.438.4338) -
- File a report with your local law enforcement – this will help you document proof of the crime for any creditors.
- Notify any companies where fraudulent activity occurred - alert them of the situation.
- If your mail has been stolen, contact your local postal inspector.
- Document Everything – write down the names, titles, and phone numbers of everyone you spoke with. Note the days and times of conversations and what was discussed.
- Visit IdentityTheft.gov to report identity theft and start a recovery plan.