What is Identity Theft & How Can You Prevent It
Identity Theft happens when an individual uses personal information belonging to another individual with the intent to commit fraud. This can include but is not limited to using someone’s name, date of birth, Social Security Number, mother’s maiden name and so on to impersonate another individual and/or access bank accounts, obtain loans, make purchases, rent an apartment and so on.
One of the fastest-growing crimes in the United States is Identity Theft and it can happen to anyone even if you do not use the Internet. Experts have even said that your private mailbox and garbage are two of the easiest ways for a criminal to gather personal information.
Identity Theft is a felony, but law enforcement cannot undo the damage that a criminal can do to your credit report. That’s why it’s important to be prepared. Here are a few tips that can help you avoid becoming the victim of identity theft:
- Review bank statements, credit card statements, and your credit report regularly and carefully. Many times, these are the first places you’ll notice signs of identity theft. Verify that all information is correct — transactions, purchases, deposits, withdrawals and so on. If there is anything suspicious or something you do not recognize, contact the appropriate company immediately.
- If a statement is late, call your bank or credit card company. You should expect to receive a statement every month. If you do not receive your statement on time, it could be an indication that your credit card has been stolen and changed your billing address so you wouldn’t notice additional charges. Signing up for online statements and canceling your paper statements is the best way to protect this information.
- Protect your personal information like your Social Security Number, PIN, and account number unless you initiate the contact or know the caller.
- Properly discard documents that contain personal information, including credit card receipts, insurance forms, physician and bank statements and credit card offers.
- Only carry the Debit Cards or Credit Cards as you need. Also, do not carry your Social Security Card with you.
- Use Post Office Mailboxes for outgoing mail, not your personal mailbox. Criminals can access your mailbox and obtain personal information from the contents.
- Once a year, review your credit report to verify accuracy. Every Individual is entitled to one free credit report every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can request a report online, by phone or mail, or by visiting annualcreditreport.com .
- Trust your instincts – DO NOT validate any personal and/or sensitive information requested by callers, emails or text.
- Stay Suspicious – Like you’ve always heard, be wary of any offer that sounds too good to be true.
- Communicate with Us – Contact First Century Bank if you receive a request for personal and/or sensitive information by calling (423) 626-7261
- Use Online Banking – Monitor your account after a day out shopping. Make sure only valid transactions have been posted to your account.
- Stay Alert – Look around when using your debit card, see if someone is watching. Cover your hand as you enter your pin to prevent your pin from theft.
- Hang On To Belongings – Make sure you zip your purse, buckle it to the cart, or keep it on you at all times
Online Shopping Safety Tips:
- Always Log Out of Online Banking - Before you close your browser window be sure you log out of any Online Banking Sessions. It is never a good idea to use a public computer to access Online Banking.
- Use strong passwords – Setup passwords for your cellular devices, make sure your passwords are at least eight characters long and contain a variety of upper/lower letters, numbers, and symbols.
- Practice safe surfing – When searching for holiday items, use safe search options within your anti-virus software and never open a website you feel uneasy about.
- Be careful when clicking – Don’t click on links in messages from people you don’t know, and us a URL expander to know what site you are going to before clicking on a shortened URL.
- Keep your Anti-Virus software up to date.
- Educate yourself – Keep up to date on the latest scams and tricks cybercriminals use, so you can learn to recognize scams and avoid potential threats against yourself.
- Only download apps from official app stores, check users’ reviews and read the app permission policies
- Be suspicious of deals on hot items. Try to verify them with the retailer.
Check Card Fraud
Check card fraud is on the rise. Monitoring your account's transactions with Online Banking daily can help keep your account safe. If you suspect you are a victim of debit card fraud, report it immediately at (423) 626-7261.
Identity Theft Actions
If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, contact the following employees of First Century Bank for assistance: Information Security Officer, Compliance and Risk Management Officer or Security Officer at (423) 626-7261.
Regulation E Coverage
Consumers are covered under Regulation E which controls Electronic Banking products such as Online Banking, Telephone Banking, Remote Deposit Capture, ACH, Wire Transfer and ATM/Debit Card Banking. Consumers are defined as customers who are not businesses; i.e. corporations, LLCs, etc.
Protecting your Online Banking Account
First Century Bank recommends that you NEVER share your personal Online Banking information, including your login and passwords.