Simple steps to protect your information and identity…
- Monitor your credit report. Many consumers don’t even realize their identity has been stolen until they are denied credit due to information provided on their credit report. You can visit annualcreditreport.com to get a free copy of your credit report. This is the only authorized website according to the Federal Trade Commission.
- Review your account statements. Every month, review your credit card bills and your checking account statements to make sure every transaction is legitimate.
- Don’t give out personal information unless absolutely necessary. Before you give any personal information by mail, internet, email or telephone, confirm that you are dealing with a legitimate organization. Such information includes your date of birth, your social security number or your address. Very few legitimate organizations will ask for this information when they call. If they are truly someone you work with, they’ll already have this information.
- Be careful with your mail. Don’t use an unsecure mailbox when mailing anything that contains personal information. Mail sensitive materials from a post office collection box or your local post office. Remove mail from your mailbox promptly. If you’re planning to be away from home, be sure to put a hold on your mail until you return.
- Consider electronic statements. Believe it or not, getting your statements via secure website is safer than leaving your statements in an unsecure, unlocked mailbox.
- Guard your trash. Identity thieves have been known to gather personal information from trash. Before throwing anything away that is sensitive, be sure to shred it. This will include account statements, bills, receipts, insurance forms and credit card offers.
- Guard your Social Security Number. Your Social Security Number is the single most important part of your personal information that thieves can use to steal your identity and abuse your credit. Make sure you know who is asking for it and why they need it.
- Pay attention to when you receive your bills. If your bills don’t arrive on time, follow up with creditors. A missing statement could mean an identity thief has taken over your account and changed your billing address. Most active accounts send you bills monthly. Reviewing past statements can show you the billing date so you can determine when to expect your statements.
- Exercise caution online. Before making any purchase online via your computer, look for the icon of a lock in the lower right-hand corner of your browser window, next to the websites URL (web address) or other location on the page. If it’s there, you are dealing with a secure site. If not, you’ll be safer finding another merchant. Many sites look professional but may not be a safe place to leave your personal information.
It’s best just to use common sense!
What happens if I’m the victim of identity theft…
There are several resources that can be accessed through one of the websites in Helpful Links.
…or come visit us at Volunteer State Bank. Even if you’re not our customer, we’ll help you as best we can.
This information is provided as a service to you and may not represent all information available. Volunteer State Bank does not represent that these steps will prevent identity theft but only that they will help deter criminals. Local law enforcement will always be your best resource.