Protect Your Identity
How You Can Protect Yourself.
Follow this guide to learn how to prevent, detect, correct and report online fraud and identity theft.
General Online Security
Prevention is the most critical element to avoiding online fraud.
- Shred all financial documents and paperwork with personal information – do not simply throw them in the trash.
- Protect your Social Security number. Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write it anywhere. Give it out only if absolutely necessary or ask to use another identifier.
- Don’t give your personal information on the phone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless you know who you are dealing with.
- Never click on links sent in unsolicited emails; instead, type in a web address you are already familiar with. Use firewalls, anti-spyware, and anti-virus software to protect your home computer – and keep them current.
- Create passwords that are unusual; do not use your birth date, your mother’s maiden name, or the last four digits of your Social Security number.
- Keep your personal information in a secure place at home, especially if you employ outside help, have roommates, or are having work done in your house.
- Ordering online? Only use “secure” web pages (a web page is secure if there is a locked padlock in the lower right-hand corner of your browser).
- When your computer is not in use, shut it down or disconnect it from the Internet.
- Always sign off from your Online Banking session.
- Never open email attachments that have file endings of .exe, .pif, or .vbs. These are file extensions for executables, and are commonly dangerous files.
- Don’t open files that appear to have a double extension, like “heythere.doc.pif”. It is extremely likely to be a dangerous file.
- Be careful and selective before providing your email address to a questionable website. Sharing your email address makes you more likely to receive fraudulent emails.
- Place a “Fraud Alert” on your credit reports if you believe your information has been compromised. The alert tells creditors to follow certain procedures before they open new accounts in your name or make changes to your existing accounts.
These consumer reporting companies have toll-free numbers for placing an initial 90-day fraud alert.
Experian: 1.888.EXPERIAN (397.3742)
Despite all efforts to prevent it, identity fraud can still occur. The earlier it is detected, however, the swifter we can help you take action to stop it. Be alert and take immediate action to the following:
- Bills that do not arrive as expected.
- Unexpected credit cards or account statements.
- Denials of credit for no apparent reason.
- Calls or letters about purchases you didn’t make.
- Review your financial and billing statements regularly and look for charges you did not make.
- Keep a list of all your credit card numbers and phone numbers in case of theft, and notify each card issuer immediately if theft occurs.
Take advantage of free annual credit reports annually. Credit reports contain information about what accounts you have and your bill-paying history. Free copies, required by law to be available from the major nationwide consumer reporting companies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – can be requested annually.
To order your free credit reports, visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com, call 877.322.8228, or write to:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
Online Banking & Cash Management Security
Take advantage of the account history and balance alert tools to detect any unusual activity on your accounts.
- Close any accounts that have been tampered with or established fraudulently.
- Call the security or fraud departments of each company if an account was opened or changed without your okay. Follow up in writing, with copies of supporting documents.
- Use the ID Theft Affidavit at ftc.gov/idtheft to support your written statement.
- Ask for verification that a disputed account has been closed and the fraudulent debts discharged.
- Keep copies of documents and records of your conversations about the theft.
- File a police report to help you with creditors who may want proof of the crime.
Report a theft to the Federal Trade Commission. Filing a report helps law enforcement officials across the country in their investigations.
By phone: 1.877.IDTHEFT (438.4337) or TTY, 1.866.653.4261
By mail: Identity Theft Clearinghouse Federal Trade Commission, Washington, DC 20580
Remember to always report theft or fraudulent activity to your financial institution, no matter if you are a victim or suspect the activity.