Tips for Identity Theft Prevention
- Never give out your personal information over the phone unless you have initiated the call and completely trust the caller. This includes credit card and bank account numbers.
- Always question the identity of people / companies that initiate contact with you - via email, mail, telephone or even in person - remember, ID cards, letterheads and business cards can easily be falsely created.
- Do not carry your extra credit cards or other important identity documents in your purse or wallet except when necessary.
- Minimize the amount of credit cards you own - cancel unused credit accounts.
- Keep a photocopy of all cards (both front and back) kept in your wallet or purse in a safe and secure place. This makes it easier to contact every relevant institution in the event that your purse or wallet goes missing.
- Never leave your purse or wallet unattended - at work, church, restaurants, parties, or shopping trolleys.
- Direct all mail you receive to a post office box or secured box. This is especially relevant for bank and credit card statements, utility bills etc.
- Safeguard all card transaction receipts - do not throw them out at points of purchase or in public. Shred them at home.
- Cut up and dispose of all inactive or old credit or ATM cards. Even expired cards can be of benefit to thieves.
- Safeguard all bank and credit card statements, and all utility bills. Do not simply throw these in the bin or recycling bin - shred them when you no longer require them.
- Never simply throw out pre-approved credit offers - always shred them.
- Reconcile all bank and credit card accounts immediately when you receive them. Challenge any unauthorized transactions immediately.
- If you don't receive a statement, notify the bank immediately.
- Check you have authorized all charges on utility and telephone bills before paying them.
- Protect your SSN - this is not a number just anyone can have if they ask, always ask why companies or people might want your SSN.
- Do not print your SSN on your checks.
- Order your Social Security Earnings and Benefits Statements once a year to check for fraud.
- Never write down your PIN's - memorize them - if you do need to write them down, do not keep it in the same place as your card (eg, wallet or purse)
- Be aware of shoulder surfers when you are using your credit card or ATM card. Always ensure you keep your PIN safely hidden from others.
- During physical card transactions, never let your card out of your sight - this is especially true for restaurants. It is best to hold on to your card and enter it into the machine yourself - never let a waiter disappear with your card, even if he is processing your transaction - skimming is very popular in restaurants.
- When making Internet transactions, ensure you are using a secure server and you completely trust the company you are dealing with.
- Never leave your personal information around home, work or in the car. Even a friend or neighbor could succumb to the temptation of stealing your personal information if they see it lying around.
- Always be careful of who is listening to telephone conversations when you are giving out personal details. Who can hear you? Even at home if you have windows and doors open. Who is listening at work when you call your utility company and they need to verify your identity?
- Remove your name from the marketing lists of the three credit reporting bureaus to reduce the number of pre-approved credit offers you receive.
- Monitor your credit report(s) at least annually. Obtain yearly free credit reports from the Credit Reporting Agencies listed below.
- Subscribe to an ID Protection/Monitoring Service.
What should I shred?
All paper containing personal information.
"Dumpster Diving" is a popular pastime of identity thieves as it presents so many opportunities to find information that can be worth a lot of money. Shred all paperwork that has an account number (bank statements, credit card statements & receipts, utility bills), a signature, your social security number or medical or legal information - as well as any pre approved credit offers. These provide an identity thief the perfect opportunity to open a new account in your name without your ever having to know - until the debt collectors come knocking!
What If My Identity has been stolen?
- Contact us immediately at 910-577-3200.
- Inform other financial institutions you may have other relationships with.
- Put your insurance company on notice.
- Notify credit reporting agencies, and have a warning notice placed on your credit reports.
- Monitor account statements and credit reports monthly.
Listed below are some of the bureaus or agencies you may want to contact if you are a victim of identity theft or want to obtain a copy of your credit report:
P. O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
To Report Fraud: (800) 525-6285
To Order a Credit Report: (800) 685-1111
P. O. Box 2002
Allen, TX 75013
To Report Fraud: (888) 397-3742
To Order a Credit Report: (888) 397-3742
Fraud Victim Assistance Dept.
P. O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834
To Report Fraud: (800) 680-7289
To Order a Credit Report: (800) 916-8800
U. S. Federal Trade Commission
Toll Free: (877) 438-4338 or www.consumer.gov/idtheft
Also a free brochure on Identity Theft: