Identity theft occurs when someone uses your name, address, Social Security number (SSN), bank or credit card account numbers, passwords, or other personal information without your knowledge to commit fraud or other crimes. While on-line banking and e-commerce are very safe with built-in security features for your protection, to avoid identity theft you should always be careful about responding to unsolicited requests for your personal financial information via the Internet, email, phone or mail.
Be Informed. Don't get "Phished".
One of the most common forms of stealing your banking account information is through a process called "Phishing". This is a scam that uses email to deceive you into disclosing personal information.
How to spot Phishing.
It's easy to spot a scam... if you know what to look for.
The email and linking Website may appear authentic. It may look just like your bank's Website.
It may ask you to "update" or "validate" your account information! Your Bank will never ask for private information by email or unsecured Website.
Often it will threaten some consequence if you don't respond.
These are clear indicators that someone is "Phishing" for your information.
Steps to avoid being Phished.
If you receive a suspicious email from your bank requesting personal information such as Social Security number, bank and credit card numbers, user names and passwords, follow these important guidelines:
Do not reply to the email, even if it appears urgent.
Do not use the links from the email to open any Web page.
Alert your bank immediately. Don't call any phone numbers appearing on the email.
Even though the laws are on your side, it's wise to take an active role in protecting your information.
If you think you've been Phished, here's what to do now:
Contact your Bank immediately.
Place a fraud alert on your credit report with the three major credit bureaus. Also request to review your credit reports for suspicious activity at that time.
Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289
Close the accounts that you know or believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (http://www.consumer.gov/idtheft/).