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What is Identity Theft?

Here are a few basic steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft and pretext calling.

Identity theft is the fraudulent use of a person's personal identifying information.

Often, identity thieves will use another person's personal information, such as a social security number, mother's maiden name, date of birth, or account number to open fraudulent new credit card accounts, write checks, open bank accounts, or obtain new loans.  They may obtain this information by:

    * Stealing wallets that contain personal identification information and credit cards;

    * Stealing bank statements from the mail;

    * Diverting mail from its intended recipients by submitting a change of address form;

    * Rummaging through the trash for personal data;

    * Stealing personal identification information from workplace records;

    * Intercepting or otherwise obtaining information transmitted electronically.

Pretext calling is a fraudulent means of obtaining a person's personal information.

Pretext callers may, posing as customers, contact bank employees, to access customers' personal account information.  Information obtained from pretext calling may be sold to debt collection services, attorneys, and private investigators to use in court proceedings.  Identity thieves may also engage in pretext calling to obtain personal information to create fraudulent accounts.

Do not give personal information, such as account numbers or social security numbers, over the telephone, through the mail, or over the Internet, unless you initiated the contact or know with whom you are dealing.

Store personal information in a safe place and tear up old credit card receipts, ATM receipts, old account statements, and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.

Protect your PINs and other passwords. Avoid using easily available information, such as your mother's maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your social security number, your phone number, etc.

Carry only the minimum amount of identifying information and number of credit cards that you need.

Pay attention to billing cycles and statements.  Contact the bank, if you do not receive a monthly bill or statement.  It may mean that the bill or statement has been diverted by an identity thief.

Check account statements carefully to ensure all charges, checks, or withdrawals were authorized.

Guard youR mail from theft.  If you have the type of mailbox with a flag to signal that the box contains mail, do not leave bill payment envelopes in your mailbox with the flag up.  Instead, deposit them in a post office collection box or at the local post office.  Promptly remove incoming mail.

Order copies of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus once a year to ensure that they are accurate.  The law permits the credit bureaus to charge $8.50 for a copy of the report (unless you live in a state that requires the credit bureaus to provide you with one free copy of your report annually).

If you prefer not to receive preapproved offers of credit, you can opt out of such offers by calling 1-888- 5 OPT OUT (1-888-567-8688).

If you want to remove your name from many national direct mail lists, send your name and address to :

DMA Mail Preference Service

PO Box 9008

Farmingdale NY 11735-9008

If you want to reduce the number of telephone solicitations from many national marketers, send your name, address, and telephone number to:

DMA Telephone Preference Service

PO Box 9014

Farmingdale NY 11735-9014

Reprinted with permission of the Office of the Comptroller of Currency.

Main - Internet Banking - Internet Banking FAQ - Locations - Contact Us  

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