What is Identity Theft
Identity theft is a serious crime. The damage caused by the theft of personal information can be very extensive, and cleaning up can cost a substantial amount of time and money. In addition, affected persons risk long term damage to their credit and their reputation. Severe consequences of identity theft include lost job opportunities and denial of credit. Some victims have even been falsely accused of crimes they did not commit.
By conducting everyday activities, consumers leave personal information a thief may want to use to steal their identity. These activities include writing a check, renting a car, applying for credit or charging tickets to a sporting event. These activities reveal personal information such as: your bank and credit card account numbers, your income, your Social Security number, your name, address and telephone number. If stolen, this information may be used to commit identity theft or fraud.
Skilled identity thieves use a variety of methods to gain access to your personal information. For example, they may:
- Steal your mail
- Steal your wallet or purse
- Complete a “change of address” form to redirect your mail to another location
- Rummage through your trash
- Collect your information through e-mail or telephone using phishing scams.
Phishing scams target consumers by “spoofing” text or voicemail messages that ask you to call a phone number and give your personal information. Here’s how it works:
- You receive an email message, asking you to click on a link in order to update some sensitive personal information.
- The link will redirect you to a "spoofed" website, which is designed to look like a legitimate website.
- The website will ask you to input personal information such as your account numbers, PINs, or a social security number.
Vishing scams target consumers by “spoofing” text or voicemail messages that ask you to call a phone number and give your personal information. Here’s how it works:
- You receive a "spoof" email or text message about suspicious account activity.
- The text or voicemail message will ask you to call a “customer service” number.
- When you call the customer service number, a recording will ask you to provide personal information such as account numbers, passwords, a social security number, or other critical information.
- The recording may not mention the company’s name and could potentially be an indication the call is being used for fraud.
- You can also receive a phone call.
- The call could be a “live” person or a recorded message.
- The caller may already have your personal information, which may seem as if the call is legitimate.
Smishing is when consumers' cell phones and other mobile devices are targeted with mobile spam. The spam, or text messages, attempt to trick consumers into providing personal information. Here's how it works:
- You receive a fake text message, which may include a fraudulent link, asking you to register for an online service.
- The scammer attempts to load a virus onto your cell phone or mobile device.
- The scammer may also send a message 'warning' you that your account will be charged unless you cancel your supposed online order.
- When you attempt to log on to the website, the scammer extracts your credit card number and other personal information.
- In turn, your information is used to duplicate credit, debit and ATM cards.
- Scammers may also send you a text message again 'warning' you that your bank account has been closed due to suspicious activity.
- The text message will ask you to call a 'customer service' number to reactivate your account.
- When you call the number, you are taken to an automated voice mail box that prompts you to key in your credit card, debit card or ATM card number, expiration date and PIN to verify your information.
- Again, your information is used to duplicate credit, debit and ATM cards.
Lottery/Sweepstakes scams target consumers by a notification, which arrives through the mail, by email, or by an unsolicited telephone call. Here's how it works:
- The notification advises you have won a prize, but you did not enter in any type of lottery or sweepstake by the promoter contacting you.
- The promoter will ask you to send payment to cover the cost of redeeming the prize when the prize does not exist.
- In this type of scam, you may rarely if ever receive any winnings in return.
Check Overpayment Scams
Check Overpayment scams target consumers who sell items through an online auction site or a classified ad. Here's how it works:
- The seller takes a big loss when the 'buyer' passes a counterfeit cashier's check, money order, corporate or personal check as payment.
- The counterfeit check is written for more than the agreed price.
- The 'buyer' will ask the consumer to wire back the difference after the check has been deposited.
- The check will more than likely bounce and the consumer becomes liable for the entire amount.
Tips to Protect Yourself
- Never give out your financial information. Such as: credit card number, checking account numbers, and especially your Social Security number, on the phone unless you placed the call and know the person, business, or organization with whom you are dealing. We, at Bank of Edmonson County, will never call you asking for that information; so don’t give out that information to anyone claiming to be from the Bank.
- Never give out usernames or PINs to anyone calling to advise you of potential card fraud regardless of how “helpful” the caller sounds.
- If your checks are lost or stolen, report it to the bank immediately! We will block payment on the check numbers involved. Also, when you get each new order of checks, review their numbers to make sure that they are in sequence with the last checks you used.
- Store all of your checks, both new and used, in a safe place.
- Guard your ATM Personal Identification Number and ATM receipts. Pick up your receipts from the ATM machine before you leave and take them home to destroy properly.
- Don’t throw away financial solicitations that you get in your mailbox. Tear them up or shred them so that thieves can’t use them to assume your identity. The same is true for any other financial documents, such as bank statements or invoices.
- If your regular bills fail to reach you, call the company and find out why. Someone may have filed a false change-of-address notice to route your information to his or her address.
- Review your bills carefully. If they include suspicious items, don’t ignore them. Instead, investigate immediately to head off any possible fraud before it occurs.
- Request a copy of your Social Security statements at www.ssa.gov/mystatement to be sure that no one else is using your social security number for employment.
- Add your phone numbers to the national Do Not Call Registry at www.donotcall.gov or by calling 1-888-382-1222. Since February 2008, these registered telephone numbers will no longer expire off the list.
- Opt out of pre-screened credit offers by calling 1-888-567-8688 or at www.optoutprescreen.com.
- Once a year, contact the major credit reporting companies to review your file and make certain that the information about you is correct. Many states offer residents free credit reports annually at www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228. For a small fee, you can get your credit score as well. The three major credit bureaus are:
Identity Theft Victims: Steps for Immediate Action
If you are a victim of identity theft, take the following steps as soon as possible. Also it is important to keep records of your conversations and copies of all correspondence. Contact your account representative at Bank of Edmonson County at 270-597-2175, to secure your bank accounts.
Contact the credit reporting agencies, and place a "fraud alert" on your credit reports. Also, add a "victim's statement" to your file requesting that creditors contact you before opening new accounts in your name.
If you know or suspect that an account has been tampered with or opened fraudulently in your name, close it immediately. Call and speak to someone in the security or fraud department. You may also wish to follow up in writing. Send all letters by certified mail, return receipt requested.
Filing a "miscellaneous incidents" report at a police station where the identity theft occurred is also an important step. Get a copy of the police report for your records in the case of dealing with creditors who need proof of the crime.
File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. You can file a complaint online at: www.consumer.gov/idtheft; call 1-877-438-4338 or write to:
Identity Theft Clearinghouse, FTC
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580
If you know or suspect that your mail has been stolen, contact the United States Postal Service.
Keep detailed records of any identity theft and your efforts to resolve it. Log the date, time and amount of unauthorized transactions, as well as the names of people you have contacted regarding the theft.
Log the date, time, duration and cost of any telephone calls as well as the date and cost of any mailings. Keep copies of all correspondence for your records.
Helpful Contacts in the event of Identity Theft:
Contact the fraud departments at each of the three credit reporting agencies:Equifax - 1-800-525-6285, Post Office Box 740241, Atlanta, Georgia 30374-0241
Experian - 1-888-397-3742, Post office Box 9532, Allen, Texas 75013
TransUnion - 1-800-680-7289
Fraud Victim Assistance Division Post Office Box 6790, Fullerton, California 92834-6790 Federal Trade Commission - 1-877-438-4338, www.consumer.gov/idtheft
Identity Theft Clearinghouse
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20580
United States Postal Service - your local post office.
Your local police department.