Identity Theft "What You Can Do to Protect Yourself"
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.
Check fraud, identity theft, and other financial fraud schemes are in the news daily. Every year, thousands of people are victimized by the use of fictitious identification.
HamptonRoads Bankshares is committed to the 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.
How do I protect myself from Identity Theft ? 10 tips to prevent identity theft.
1. 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. After applying for a loan, credit card, rental or anything else that requires a credit report, request that your Social Security number on the application be truncated or completely obliterated and your original credit report be shredded before your eyes or returned to you once a decision has been made. A lender or rental manager needs to retain only your name and credit score to justify a decision.
2. 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. You then can be proactive; call the person and ask, "Why are you checking my credit?" It might be a landlord or employer; it might be legitimate.
In addition to the above precautions, you should:
- 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
Equifax: 1-800-685-1111 Experian: 1-888-397-3742 TransUnion: 1-800-836-8761
- Consider using one of the credit report monitoring services offered through Equifax, or one of the other major credit reporting agencies.
3. 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.
4. Remove your name from marketing lists
The three credit-reporting bureaus -- Equifax, Experian and TransUnion -- all maintain marketing lists that may contain your information. Contact the agencies to remove your name from the lists. You also should add your name to the name-deletion lists of the Direct Marketing Association's Mail Preference Service and Telephone Preference Service used by banks and other marketers. Removing your name from these lists reduces the number of pre-approved credit offers you receive.
5. 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.
6. Keep duplicate records
Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine. Copy both sides of your license and credit cards so you have all the account numbers, expiration dates and phone numbers if your wallet or purse is stolen.
7. 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.
8. Monitor your Social Security activity
Order your Social Security Earnings and Benefits statement once a year to check for fraud.
9. 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.
10. Know who you are talking to
Never give your credit-card number or personal information over the phone unless you have initiated the call and trust that business.
- 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
Equifax: 1-800-525-6285 Experian: 1-888-397-3742 TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
- Notify the Social Security Administration by calling 1-800-772-1213 or visiting www.ssa.gov.
- Notify your local Bank of Hampton Roads or Gateway Bank branch or call (1-866-867-8500).
- Notify any other grantors of credit of the fraud, 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
The following companies and government agencies can provide more information about identity theft:
Identity Theft Information
|Credit Reporting Companies||
Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Hotline:
Social Security Administration Fraud Hotline:
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