Identity (ID) theft is a crime where a thief steals your personal information, such as your full name or social security number, to commit fraud. The identity thief can use your information to fraudulently apply for credit, file taxes, or get medical services. These acts can damage your credit status, and cost you time and money to restore your good name. You may not know that you are the victim of ID theft until you experience a financial consequence (mystery bills, credit collections, denied loans) down the road from actions that the thief has taken with your stolen identity.
Take steps to protect yourself from identity theft:
- Secure your social security number (SSN). Don’t carry your social security card in your wallet or write your number on your checks. Only give out your SSN when absolutely necessary.
- Don’t respond to unsolicited requests for personal information (your name, birthdate, social security number, or bank account number) by phone, mail, or online.
- Contact the three credit reporting agencies to request a freeze of your credit reports.
- Collect mail promptly. Place a hold on your mail when you are away from home for several days.
- Pay attention to your billing cycles. If bills or financial statements are late, contact the sender.
- Enable the security features on mobile devices, especially if you have contacts, banking websites and applications saved.
- Update sharing and firewall settings when you're on a public wi-fi network. Consider using a virtual private network, which can give you the privacy of secured private network.
- Review your credit card and bank account statements. Promptly compare receipts with account statements. Watch for unauthorized transactions.
- Shred receipts, credit offers, account statements, and expired credit cards, to prevent “dumpster divers” from getting your personal information.
- Store personal information in a safe place at home and at work.
- Install firewalls and virus-detection software on your home computer.
- Create complex passwords that identity thieves cannot guess easily. Change your passwords if a company that you do business with has a breach of its databases
- Review your credit report once a year to be certain that it doesn't include accounts that you have not opened. You can order it for free from Annualcreditreport.com.
How to Report Identity Theft:
As always, Think Before You Click!
What is skimming?
Skimming is the act of stealing PIN and debit card information through the use of skimming devices and cameras.
What is a skimming device?
A skimming device is a card reader that is placed over the real card reader slot of the machine which typically looks identical to the real reader. When a card is slid or swiped through the skimming device, all of the card information from the magnetic strip is saved. There is also a hidden camera(s) pointed directly at the keypad of the machine to record a patron typing in his/her PIN.
How does skimming happen?
The criminal compiles the data from the skimming device and the camera(s) and creates fake debit cards using the stolen information.
As technology advances, skimming devices and hidden cameras are becoming much more difficult to detect. Skimming can happen at ATMs, gas pumps and anywhere else credit and debit cards are accepted. It is important to know what you can do to help protect yourself from a skimming attempt.
3 Tips to help you protect yourself from skimming:
Cover Your PIN
Always cover the keypad of a machine when putting your PIN in using your hand. Criminals use hidden cameras to steal PIN information. By covering the keypad, you significantly decrease the chances of a criminal accessing your PIN.
Observe the ATM
Before using a machine, look for anything that may look out-of-place. If the card reader feels loose, there may be a skimmer attached. A genuine card reader will be securely attached to the ATM. Be sure to examine the keypad as well. If the keypad looks different from the rest of the machine, something may be wrong. Lastly, you will want to inspect the machine and surrounding area for any hidden cameras.
Monitor Your Accounts
Regularly check your accounts online. If there is any suspicious activity on your account, contact us immediately at 401.233.4700