Protecting Your Identity
The number of Americans who have experienced identity theft has surpassed 27 million, with the incidence rate increasing every year. Substantial measures are in place at your bank to protect your identity and your accounts against theft and fraud. For example, stringent bank privacy policies protect your personal and financial information. Password protection for online transactions help assure online security. When using our online services, you develop a secret password that only you know. Encryption of online transactions with your bank converts your information into secure code, protecting you against hackers.
Maximum security is possible only with your help. Here’s what you can do to stop these crimes before they happen:
- Do not give out financial information such as checking and credit card numbers, or your Social Security number, unless you know the person or organization.
- Report lost or stolen checks immediately. Your bank will block payment on them.
- Notify your banker of suspicious phone inquiries such as those asking for account information to “verify a statement” or “award a prize.”
- Closely guard your ATM Personal Identification Number and ATM receipts.
- Shred any financial solicitations and bank statements before disposing of them.
- Put outgoing mail into a secure, official Postal Service collection box.
- If regular bills fail to reach you, call the company to find out why.
- If your bills include questionable items, don’t ignore them. Instead, investigate immediately to head off any possible fraud.
- Periodically contact the major credit reporting companies to review your file and make certain the information is correct. (See related article on the FACT Act to learn about obtaining free reports.)
FACT Act Helps to Fight Identity Theft
Free credit report, other provisions help consumers
The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act) will help reduce identity theft according to Congress and the Federal Trade Com mission. For example, one provision requires the three major credit-reporting agencies to provide consumers with a free copy of their own credit report.
Another provision to help prevent identity theft is the National Fraud Alert System. Consumers who reasonably suspect they have been or may be victimized by identity theft, or who are military personnel on active duty away from home, can place an alert on their credit files. The alert will put potential creditors on notice that they must proceed with caution when granting credit.
Other measures will help consumers recover their credit reputation after they have been victimized:
- Credit reporting agencies must stop reporting allegedly fraudulent account information when a consumer establishes that he or she has been the victim of identity theft;
- Creditors or businesses must provide copies of business records or fraudulent accounts or trans actions related to them. This information can assist victims in proving that they are, in fact, victims.
- Consumers will be allowed to report accounts affected by identity theft directly to creditors—in addition to credit reporting agencies—to prevent the spread of erroneous information.
How to Obtain a Free Credit Report
www.annualcreditreport.com or (877) 322-8228
The bottom line: If you have any questions or concerns about protecting your financial identity, come in and visit your banker.
|Credit Reporting Bureaus|
|Place a fraud alert:||1-888-766-0008|
|Order a credit report:||1-800-685-1111|
|Place a fraud alert:||1-888-397-3742|
|Order a credit report:||1-888-397-3742|
|Place a fraud alert:||1-800-680-7289|
|Order a credit report:||1-800-888-4213|
A significant number of check fraud losses that occur involve customer accounts. In order to avoid becoming an unwitting victim of fraud schemes, you need to know about the existence and consequences of fraud, proper check issuing, and timely statement reconcilement.
Following is a brief list of checking account protection tips.
- Guard your checkbook and extra (new) checks.
- Never give your account and routing numbers to people you do not know, especially to anyone over the telephone.
- Never use your deposit slip for "scrap" paper or notes and then give it to someone. Guard your deposit slips.
- Properly store or dispose of canceled checks.
- If your checkbook is lost or stolen, immediately inform us.
- When traveling for a period of time, it is wise to leave your checkbook at home, locked away, and purchase traveler's checks.
- Always write checks using ink pens or typewriters - never pencil.
- Write the payee name, and the dollar amount in both numbers and letters, as far to the left in the allotted space as possible and draw a line through the unused space to the right of the letters and numbers to prevent additions.
- Balance or reconcile your checkbook register with your monthly bank statements.
- When writing the payee name on the "Pay to the Order of" line, make sure the name is spelled out so it cannot be altered (e.g. L.S.U. could be changed to L.S.Underwood.
How Not to Get Hooked by a 'Phishing' Scam
Phishing is a high-tech scam that uses spam or pop-up messages to deceive you into disclosing your credit card numbers, bank account information, Social Security number, passwords, or other sensitive information.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), phishers send an email or pop-up message that claims to be from a business or organization that you deal with - for example, your Internet service provider (ISP), bank, online payment service, or even a government agency. The message usually says that you need to "update" or "validate" your account information. It might threaten some dire consequence if you don't respond. The message directs you to a Web site that looks just like a legitimate organization's site, but it isn't. The purpose of the bogus site? To trick you into divulging your personal information so the operators can steal your identity and run up bills or commit crimes in your name.
The FTC, the nation's consumer protection agency, suggests these tips to help you avoid getting hooked by a phishing scam:
- If you get an email or pop-up message that asks for personal or financial information, do not reply or click on the link in the message. Legitimate companies don't ask for this information via email. If you are concerned about your account, contact the organization in the email using a telephone number you know to be genuine, or open a new Internet browser session and type in the company's correct Web address. In any case, don't cut and paste the link in the message.
- Don't email personal or financial information. Email is not a secure method of transmitting personal information. If you initiate a transaction and want to provide your personal or financial information through an organization's Web site, look for indicators that the site is secure, like a lock icon on the browser's status bar or a URL for a website that begins "https:" (the "s" stands for "secure"). Unfortunately, no indicator is foolproof; some phishers have forged security icons.
- Review credit card and bank account statements as soon as you receive them to determine whether there are any unauthorized charges. If your statement is late by more than a couple of days, call your credit card company or bank to confirm your billing address and account balances.
- Use anti-virus software and keep it up to date. Some phishing emails contain software that can harm your computer or track your activities on the Internet without your knowledge. Anti-virus software and a firewall can protect you from inadvertently accepting such unwanted files. Anti-virus software scans incoming communications for troublesome files. Look for anti-virus software that recognizes current viruses as well as older ones; that can effectively reverse the damage; and that updates automatically.
A firewall helps make you invisible on the Internet and blocks all communications from unauthorized sources. It's especially important to run a firewall if you have a broadband connection. Finally, your operating system (like Windows or Linux) may offer free software "patches" to close holes in the system that hackers or phishers could exploit.
- Be cautious about opening any attachment or downloading any files from emails you receive, regardless of who sent them.
- Report suspicious activity to the FTC. If you get spam that is phishing for information, forward it to email@example.com. If you believe you've been scammed, file your complaint at www.ftc.gov, and then visit the FTC's Identity Theft Web site at www.consumer.gov/idtheft to learn how to minimize your risk of damage from ID theft. Visit www.ftc.gov/spam to learn other ways to avoid email scams and deal with deceptive spam.
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit www.ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
Security at the ATM
Making ATM Security your business.
Electronic banking at ATMs is a fast, convenient way to withdraw cash, make deposits, check account balances, transfer funds and more. If you use ATMs to conduct financial transactions, you must make security a priority. Here are some important steps you can take to make ATM security your business.
Treat your ATM card like cash.
Always keep your card in a safe place. It's a good idea to store your card in a card sleeve. The sleeve protects the card's magnetic stripe.
Keep your "secret code" a secret.
Your ATM card will work only with your personal identification number (PIN). When choosing your PIN, don't use dates of birth, parts of your social security number, addresses or phone numbers. Memorize your code. Never write it on your card or store it with the card. Never tell your code to anyone. And never let someone else enter your code for you.
Take your receipt with you. Do not leave it at or near the ATM.
You can get a receipt every time you make an ATM transaction. Verify each transaction by checking the receipts against your monthly account statements to guard against ATM fraud.
Do not give out any information about your ATM card over the telephone.
No one needs to know your secret code. Not even your financial institution.
Report a lost or stolen card at once.
Promptly report a lost or stolen card to reduce the chance that it will be used improperly. You will be issued another card.