Protecting Your Identity
Protecting Your Identity
impressive stealth and steed, a thief can compromise your identity
and inflict irreparable damage within just a short period of time.
It can happen literally before you even get your next monthly
credit card or checking account statement. The threat of having
your identity compromised has dramatically increased. In 2010, more
than 8 million people became identity theft victims, with estimated
losses well over $36 billion. The average cost to restore your
identity can be as much as $700; sometimes, the costs can be
staggering depending on the severity and extent of the individual
cases. First & Farmers National Bank wants to educate its
customers and the public in general to help put a stop to this
horrific invasion of privacy. Let's learn more about identity
theft, the different types of identity theft, and find ways to
There are many
different types of identity theft, and the list just keeps growing.
Financial Identity Theft occurs when an impostor
obtains someone's personal identifying information (PII) and uses
it for financial gain; such as obtaining lines of credit, credit
cards, financial institution account takeover or enlistment, or
even signing up for utilities.
Identity Theft occurs when a thief uses someone's PII to
elude law enforcement, and even fulfilling child support
obligations. Oftentimes, the criminal identity thief is using
someone's identity to obtain employment or credit because their own
past would prohibit them passing background checks.
identity thieves will use another person's identity to obtain
medical services or goods, and even more, they may use it to make
claims for medical services. Medical Identity
Theft can result in false medical records or enormous
claims being added to a person's existing medical charts.
identity be stolen in order to obtain employment, governmental
benefits, or even tax refunds, this is a form of
Governmental Identity Theft. Usually, the victim
learns of this when their rax return is held by the state, or when
wages are levied by the court or government.
One form of
identity theft that can affect a business is Corporate Identity
Theft. This is when someone manipulates a business's identifying
information in order to commit fraud or other crimes in the
your information become compromised?
Banks are often
faced with the problem of ATM Skimmers.
Individuals are putting skimming machines in the slot of ATM
machines that will read the card's numbers electronically. They
oftentimes are also housing a small camera that records the account
holder's hand movements while punching in their PIN numbers. The
skimmer is then duplicating the card, account, and PIN numbers on a
separate card or using the numbers online to order products or
services. One way to avoid ATM Skimming, is by being observant of
the ATM Machine. Look for a tiny box or an insert in the card
reader. If you notice anything unusual, alert the owner of the ATM
machine, and do not use your card at that machine. Always use ATM
machines at locations you trust, such as a bank or an ATM that is
in a very public and well-lit place. Thieves will less likely be
able to put a skimmer on an ATM that is in a highly visible,
populated area without drawing attention. It is always better to be
safe than sorry!
Vishing attacks happen when individuals receive
telephone calls, either live or automated, to obtain personal
identifying information. Oftentimes, the caller will use a very
viable, respectable company's name such as a bank or even a
government agency like the IRS, and ask for social security or
account numbers. Sometimes, they will ask you to call an anonymous
number and leave your account number or other personal identifying
information. They use fear tactics to lure you in; they may say
that your credit has been compromised and you need to immediately
contact them or ask you to verify a credit card number because they
fear it has been duplicated.
Phishing scams take place, generally, through
e-mail. They will re-direct you to a website that may look
identical to the business or person they are trying to impersonate.
Most times, when you are redirected, a pop-up will have fields
asking for account numbers, social security numbers or more
messaging scams are now on the rise. Hackers are obtaining
lists from mobile phone companies, and sending out text messages
saying alarming things such as that your card has been blocked, or
that your accounts have been compromised. Most often, they will ask
that the individual call a toll-free number and change PIN numbers
or verify account numbers.
methods such as dumpster diving and
stealing occur when purses or wallets are stolen,
mailboxes are rummaged, bank and credit card statements are
accessed, and pre-authorized credit card offers are accepted. Boxes
of checks can also be intercepted through the mailboxes.
Online methods of
obtaining PII can include: Online Dating Scams, Social Media
Identity Assumption, Automatic Delivery Options for Weight loss
aides, and even Online Penny Auctions. As technology advances, so
does the effort of identity thieves.
What can you
do to protect yourself?
Below is a listing
of simple things that you can do in order to avoid becoming a
target of identity theft.
- Keep your Social Security card and number in a safe place such
as a safe deposit box or a fireproof safe. Never carry it in your
wallet or purse.
- Unless someone must have it to verify your identity, do not
give it out. Find out what that person or entity is going to do
with the information, and figure out if you think they are
- Store your laptop in a secure place. Change your passwords
often and do not allow passwords to be "remembered" by websites.
Keep virus and malware protection up to date on your PC, laptops,
smart phones, etc.
- Be cautious of postings on social networking sites. Do not
alert potential thieves to when you may not be at home. Do not give
"daily routine" updates or share any more personal information that
you must. If you do not have a profile on these sites, but someone
says they found you, verify the information that is out there, and
then report it to the authorities immediately.
- Never loan a credit or debit card to someone else. Most often,
they cannot get one themselves if they are asking for yours.
- Guard your credit and debit cards, as well as any correlating
PIN numbers. Do not ever write a PIN number on the debit card or
keep it stored near your card.
- Scrutinize your monthly statements. Go over any and all
statements as soon as you receive them.
- Empty your mailbox daily. If you are on vacation, have your
mail held at the post office. Do not put mail with checks or bills
in the mailbox to await pickup. Open every single piece of mail
that comes in your name. This way, you will know if anyone has an
account opened using your name or account numbers. Shred credit
card offers and anything that you no longer need that has PII.
- When ordering online, ensure that the site offers payment
through a secured site. Do not ever give credit card or personal
identifying information over an unsecure site.
- If anyone calls or texts you and asks you to share personal
identifying information, do not give it out to them. If they are
pretending to be a trusted business or person, just hang up and
call the number listed in the phone book; not the one on your
- Do not ever put your social security number on checks.
- Do not use predictable passwords. Even though a security
question asks you for your mother's maiden name, you may answer it
with another word that no one else would know.
- Request a credit report from the three major credit companies
- Keep your children's social security number and personal
identifying information in safe locations as well.
Remember that a
bank already has your account number on file. Banks will not
randomly call you and ask you to enter any account information into
a system or ask you to give that information out. If anyone asks
you to give them your account number, DON'T!
What do you
do if you find your identity has been compromised?
If someone has
stolen your wallet, immediately call your local authorities. Then,
contact your credit card companies to report the cards as lost or
stolen. Alert your bank that your cards and checks have been
stolen. Your bank will put stop payments on the checks that have
been stolen, and also list your debit card as stolen or lost. You
may also need to contact your Department of Motor Vehicles to alert
them that your Driver's License was compromised.
If your social
security number is being used, or you feel it has been compromised,
contact your local Social Security Administration office. Also,
contact the three credit unions to place red flags on your
accounts. Ask them to alert you of any sudden changes in your
credit scores. Also, if you have any passwords set up for online
banking or even mobile banking, immediately change those. In most
cases of restoring identity theft, you will be required to have a
police report, so immediately contact the authorities if you see
anything fishy going on with any of your accounts or credit
To report Identity
Theft, you will need to file a complaint with the Federal Trade
Commission (FTC) through their Identity Theft Hotline at (877)
438-4338. Be diligent in copying any correspondence and keeping
track of all losses you have incurred due to the identity
The costs and
efforts involved in restoring your credit can be heartbreaking and
very extensive. Identity thieves can do a large amount of
devastation to your credit in a short amount of time. It can be a
long, hard line to tow when trying to restore the upstanding credit
you have worked and labored for so long to create. Be aware, and
guard your identity just like…well, your life.
Click on any of
these links to find out more information on Identity Theft, or use
them should you feel your Personal Identifying Information has been
Commission Complaint Center
Department of Justice
for Credit Counseling: Protect Your Identity
Prevention & Survival