Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information to establish credit, purchase items, or to borrow money in your name. Unfortunately, more and more Americans today have become victims of identity theft fraud. Here are some tips to help you protect yourself from identity theft:
Protect Yourself against Identity Theft
- Don't release your financial information such as checking account and credit card numbers, or your Social Security number, to anyone over the phone or email, unless you know the person or organization with which you are dealing. Don't even release that information to someone claiming to be from your bank. The Memphis City Employees Credit Union will NEVER ask for any personal information via email.
- Report lost or stolen checks or printed deposit slips immediately. Review new deliveries of checks and deposit slips to make sure none have been stolen in transit.
- Notify your credit union of suspicious phone inquiries such as those asking for account information to “verify a statement” or “award a prize.”
- Shred financial solicitations, financial statements, or bank statements, before disposing of them.
- Deposit your mail into a secure, official Postal Service collection box rather than at your mail box at home. Thieves may use your outgoing 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 mail to his or her address.
- If your bills include questionable items, investigate immediately. Questionable items on your bills are often the first sign of identity theft fraud.
- Contact your major credit reporting companies to review your credit 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:
|P.O. Box 740241||P.O. Box 9532||Fraud Victim Assistance Division|
|Atlanta, GA 30374-0241||Allen, TX 75013||P.O. Box 6790|
|www.equifax.com||www.experian.com||Fullerton, CA 92834-6790|
You can obtain one free credit report per year from each credit bureau by calling 1-877-322-8228 or visiting www.annualcreditreport.com
Protect Yourself Online
- Choose passwords that are difficult for others to guess and change your password periodically. The Memphis City Employees Credit Union requires your Internet Banking password to be at least 5 characters long and must contain both alphabetic characters and numbers. No word or name should be used. In addition, because the alphabetic characters are case sensitive, we recommend that you user a combination of upper and lower case letters.
- Leave suspicious sites. If you suspect that a website is not what it purports to be, leave the site immediately. Do not follow any of the instructions it presents.
- Do not send sensitive personal or financial information unless it is encrypted on a secure website. Look for indicators of a secure site, such as a lock icon in the browser's status bar or a website URL that begins with "https" instead of "http".
- Do business with only companies you know and trust.
- Be alert for scam emails and don't reply to any e-mail that requests your personal information. Be very suspicious of any email from a business or person that asks you to provide or confirm your password, Social Security Number, or other highly sensitive information.
- Use Internet Explorer 7 or higher to prevent potential fraud occurring to your computer.
Identity Theft Victims
If you have been a victim of identity theft, you should do the following:
- File a police report
- File a report with the Federal Trade Commission.
- Complete an identity theft affidavit
- Contact your Credit Union.
- Request that accounts/credit cards be closed due to fraud: “closed at consumer's request.”
- Notify any one of the three credit bureau's fraud units. A single call to any of the three bureaus can result in a “fraud alert” being placed at all of the bureaus and a free credit report from each organization. NOTE: Immediately notify the credit bureaus but you may want to wait a month or so to receive your free credit reports to give suspicious activity time to show up on the report. After receiving a report, review them for suspicious activity; such as inquiries from companies you did not contact, accounts you did not open, and debts on your accounts that you cannot explain. Also, verify your SSN, address(es), name or initials, and employers. Contact financial institutions or companies where fraudulent activity has occurred.
- Report checks theft to check verification companies.
- Check post office for unauthorized change of address requests.
Follow-up your conversations with any entity with a letter sent via certified mail (return receipt requested), keep copies of all correspondence, and keep originals of your police report or other documents.