What is identity theft?
Identity theft takes place when another individual unlawfully acquires and uses personal information of yours. With information such as your account number, PIN, or Social Security number, someone can open bank accounts, apply for credit, or conduct other business under your name.
There are many ways to acquire this information, including stealing mail and personal items, overhearing you giving the information to others, watching as you input your PIN, or through the phone and internet scams.
Once a thief has your information, they can apply for loans and credit cards, and then make purchases without repaying the debts. Thieves will use alternate addresses so you are unaware of the crime. If they are arrested, they use your name. If they fail to show up for a court appearance, a warrant will be issued in your name.
How can I protect myself?
Millions of people have been victims of identity theft. At least half had no idea how their personal information was stolen. Some simple steps may help you avoid this terrible problem:
- Never give out personal information on the telephone, through the mail, or over the internet unless you are the initiator of the contact. 1st National Bank of Scotia employees will never call to have you verify personal information.
- Don’t put additional information such as your Social Security number or driver’s license number on your printed checks.
- Always check your bank statement promptly to ensure the transactions are legitimate.
- Shred or tear materials before throwing them away.
- Always keep credit and debit cards in safe places and never write your PIN numbers on them. Also, never share your PIN with anyone else.
- Be cautious when using ATMs and point of sale terminals.
- Install firewall software on your home computer.
- Stop your mail if you are going to be out of town.
- Cancel unused credit cards.
- Check your credit report. You are eligible for a free credit report once every 12 months. Log on to: www.annualcreditreport.com.
What do I do if my identity is stolen?
- Immediately contact the Federal Trade Commission at: www.ftc.gov or call 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338).
- Contact the 3 major credit reporting agencies:
To order your credit report, call: 800-685-1111
To report fraud, call: 800-525-6285
To order your credit report or report fraud, call: 888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742)
To order your credit report, call: 800-888-4213
To report fraud, call: 800-680-7289
- Cancel any accounts that have had fraudulent transactions.
- Contact your local law enforcement agency.
- If mail has been stolen, also contact the US Postal Service.
- Keep a detailed log of all contacts made regarding your problem.
For more information visit: www.icba.org