"What is Identity Theft and how can I protect myself"
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft involves acquiring key pieces of someone's identifying information, such as name, address, date, of birth, or Social Security number to commit fraud. With this information a thief could take over the victim's financial accounts, open new bank accounts, purchase automobiles, and apply for loans, credit cards, and Social Security benefits.
Hampton Roads Bankshares is committed to addressing the financial concerns of its customers by providing information to combat the issue of Identity Theft.
Below are some useful steps to aid in reducing your risk of identity theft.
How do Identity Thieves acquire key pieces of personal information?
- Theft of your wallet, purse, or checkbook.
- Removing mail from your mailbox, either incoming or outgoing.
- Going through your trash.
- Phishing - Obtaining information by email scams or fraudulent websites.
- Hacking - Illegally gaining access to computer systems containing personal or financial data.
- Pretext Calling - Using false pretenses to obtain information via telephone.
- Guard that Social Security number. The most important step is to guard your Social Security number -- it is the key to your credit report and banking accounts and is the prime target of criminals. Do not print your Social Security number on your checks. Monitor your Social Security activity by ordering your Social Security Earnings and Benefits statement once a year to check for fraud.
- Monitor your credit report. Credit reports can alert you to activity in your financial records. A monitoring service, such as Privacy Guard, will notify you whenever someone applies for credit in your name or checks your credit history.
- Review your credit report from the three major agencies at least annually to confirm there were no unauthorized credit inquiries made or accounts opened in your name. The major credit reporting agencies are:
Major Credit Reporting Agencies
- Consider using one of the credit report monitoring services offered through Equifax, or one of the other major credit reporting agencies.
- Buy a shredder and use it. Identity thieves may use your garbage to obtain personal information. Shred all old bank and credit statements, as well as "junk mail" credit-card offers, before trashing them. Use a crosscut shredder -- they cost more than regular shredders but are superior.
- Remove your name from marketing lists. The three credit-reporting bureaus -- Equifax, Experian and TransUnion maintain marketing lists that may contain your information. Contact the agencies to remove your name from the lists.
- Watch what you carry in your purse or wallet. Do not keep your Social Security card in your wallet or carry extra credit cards or other important identity documents except when needed. These documents can give thieves ready access to your accounts.
- Mail payments from a safe location. Do not mail bill payments and checks from home. They can be stolen from your mailbox and washed clean in chemicals. (This process is commonly called "Flagging"). Take them to the post office.
- Monitor your credit-card activity. Carefully examine your credit-card statements for fraudulent charges before paying them. If you don't need or use department-store or bank-issued credit cards, close the accounts.
- If you think you've been a victim of identity theft, immediately contact the fraud division of the credit reporting companies and request that a "fraud alert" be placed in your file. Ask that no new credit be granted without your approval. The credit reporting agencies have agreed to notify one another when an individual places a fraud alert in his credit file. The individual need only call one of the credit reporting agencies.
Fraud Divisions for the Major Credit Reporting Agencies
- Notify the Social Security Administration by calling 1-800-772-1213 or visiting www.ssa.gov.
- Notify your local Bank of Hampton Roads, Shore Bank, or Gateway Bank branch or call (1-866-867-8500).
- Notify any other grantors of credit of the fraud, and then file a police report. You should never send originals of your documentation -- always make copies.
- Remember to keep detailed records of all events once you ascertain that your identity has been stolen. Include names, telephone numbers, and the date and time you made contact with individuals or companies requesting assistance.
Where to go to obtain additional information on Identity Theft
Credit Reporting Companies
Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Hotline:
We'll be happy to answer your questions when you visit your local branch,
or contact us by phone at (1-866-867-8500)
Check and Other Money Scams
Check overpayment or money wiring scams are becoming more popular and cleverer. Scam artists contact victims using internet or responding to ads, work from home scams, or sweepstakes winnings letter. The checks in these scams may look real but in reality, they are fraudulent.
Here are some tips for avoiding check scams:
- Don't be duped by a fraudulent check. Some checks may look legitimate. Call the issuing bank and ask to verify the validity of a check.
- Know who you're dealing with, (i.e. confirm a buyer's name, street address, and telephone number). Carefully check sales to a person who pays for a purchase with a check and appears to be in a foreign country.
- If you're selling something over the internet or through a newspaper ad, say "no" to a check for more than your selling price, no matter how tempting the plea or convincing the story.
- Don't wire money back to anyone. Be alert to anyone paying you or giving you money to ask you to wire money back.
If you've been the victim of such a scam, visit your local branch or contact us by phone at (1-866-867-8500).
Learn more by visiting the Fake Checks.org web page http://fakechecks.org/
Check Card and ATM Safety
Protect yourself and your family
Treat your card like cash. Keep it in a safe place.
- Keep your Check or ATM Card personal identification number (PIN)
- Do not disclose card information over the phone to anyone. No one needs to know your PIN, not even your financial institution.
- Never disclose information about your card in response to an unsolicited e-mail or request.
- Be alert to your surroundings when using an ATM, especially after dark.
- Carefully review your account statements.
To report a lost or stolen Visa check card 24 hours a day, please call 1-800-472-3272.
- Shop only at Internet merchants you know and trust; if in doubt, check with the Better Business Bureau or search the Internet for reviews about the merchant.
- Beware of e-mails offering cut-rate prices on items; if the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- If you receive an unsolicited e-mail from an Internet merchant, do not click on the links within it. Instead, locate the merchant's web site address through a reputable search engine or type the known address.
- Check Internet merchants' refund policies; some merchants set a deadline for returns or charge a fee to accept return merchandise.
- Never share your passwords with anyone. Use different passwords for different web sites.
- Do not provide your Social Security number, birth date or mother's maiden name in an e-mail or within a merchant's web site.
- Ensure your computer has the latest anti-virus software installed before shopping online.
- Always print and save the confirmation page when completing an online purchase.