Ten Tips to Prevent Identity Theft
Identity theft and account fraud are making big headlines. They happen when someone
steals personal information such as your bank account number or Social Security
number and then poses as you, either cleaning out your account or running up debt
in your name or both. The threat is real, and the government estimates 500,000 people
are victimized by these crimes each year.
Your bank works hard every day to ward off these threats, but maximum security is
possible only with your help.
Learn how you can monitor your credit and guard against identity fraud by following these
tips to help stop these crimes before they happen - and protect your assets and your
- Don't give out financial information such as checking and credit card numbers -
and especially your Social Security number - on the phone unless you initiated the
call and know the person or organization you're dealing with. Don't give that information
to any stranger, even one claiming to be from your bank.
- Report lost or stolen checks immediately. Your bank will block payment on the check
numbers involved. Also, review new deliveries of checks to make sure none has been
stolen in transit.
- Store cancelled checks - and new checks - in a safe place.
- Notify your banker of suspicious phone inquiries, such as those asking for account
information to "verify a statement" or "award a prize."
- Guard your ATM Personal Identification Number and ATM receipts. Thieves can use
them to access your accounts.
- Don't throw away financial solicitations that arrive in your mailbox. Tear them
up so thieves can't use them to assume your identity. Tear up any other financial
documents such as bank statements or invoices before disposing of them.
- Don't put outgoing mail in or on your mailbox. Drop it into a secure, official Postal
Service collection box. Thieves may use your mail to steal your identity.
- If regular bills fail to reach you, call the company to find out why. Someone may
have filed a false change-of-address notice to divert your information to his or
- If your bills include suspicious items, don't ignore them. Instead, investigate
immediately to head off any possible fraud before it occurs.
- Periodically contact the major credit reporting companies to review your file and
make certain the information is correct. For a small fee, you can obtain a copy
of your credit report at any time. The three major credit bureaus are:
Together, you and your bank can head off identity theft and account fraud before
they ever happen. The bottom line: If you have any questions or concerns about protecting
your financial identity, come in and visit your banker.
© Copyright 2000 Financial Education Corporation.
Used with Permission