Identity Theft occurs when someone uses your name, Social Security number, credit card number or other personal information without your permission to commit fraud. At Peoples Bank, we want to help ensure that your private information remains secure – at the bank and in all your transactions.
The following information provides guidelines on how to protect yourself against Identity Theft and minimize the damage if your information is accidentally disclosed or deliberately stolen.
What You Need to Know:
Identity thieves have several ways to obtain your personal information. They might steal your wallet or purse to get your ID, credit cards and debit cards. They also search the trash or steal your mail for bank statements, receipts, credit card offers, health insurance forms, tax information and other financial information. Some thieves access information from offices where you are a customer, employee, patient or student.
To avoid becoming a victim, it’s important to take the following measures to protect your personal information.
Reduce Your Risk:
Now that you know how Identity Theft can occur, here are some safeguards to lower the chance that it will happen to you:
- Protect your Social Security number: Don’t carry your Social Security card with you – leave it in a safe place.
- Guard your passwords and personal identification numbers (PINs): Avoid using information such as your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, and the last four digits of your Social Security number or phone number.
- Be protective of giving out personal information over the phone or Internet: The best way to know whom you are dealing with is to initiate the phone call or type the Internet address in your browser address bar.
- Shred financial documents before you throw them out. Also, remove new mail from your mailbox promptly and send outgoing mail from the post office or a secure drop box.
- Review your credit report annually for incorrect information. Federal law gives consumers the right to a free credit report every year from the three national reporting agencies. Free credit reports can be requested through http://www.AnnualCreditReport.com.
- Check your financial accounts regularly for charges you did not make. Also, keep a list of all your credit cards and account numbers in a secure location and watch your incoming mail for missing statements.
- Find out who has access to your personal information at work. Verify that records are kept in a secure location.
Act Quickly If Identity Theft Happens to You:
If you suspect your personal information has been misused, take action immediately by following these three steps:
1. Contact the fraud department of one of the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit report. The company you call is required to notify the other two credit bureaus to place an alert on their versions of your report. The fraud alert tells creditors to contact you before opening any new accounts or making changes to existing accounts. Also, ask for a free copy of your credit report and request that only the last four digits of your Social Security number appear on your report.
2. Contact your creditors to close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. If you believe your Peoples Bank accounts or credit cards were used fraudulently, contact these numbers:
For Peoples Bank 24 Express ATM or Check Cards: email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Customer Services at 828.464.5620 or toll free 800.948.7195 (8 am--7 pm, M-F). After hours, call 800.523.4175.
3. File a police report with your local police department or the police in the community where the identity theft took place. Request a copy of the report to submit as proof to your creditors.
Fight Back Against Identity Theft:
To protect yourself and others against future Identity Theft, it’s important to file your complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Complaints are entered into a secure consumer fraud database used by law enforcement agencies for criminal investigations. Filing a complaint helps the FTC prosecute identity thieves and provide victim assistance and education.
To file a complaint with the FTC:
Submit the online complaint form at: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov
Or call the FTC’s Identity Theft Hotline:
Toll free: 877.ID.THEFT (438.4338); TTY: 866.653.4261
Be sure to call the Hotline to update your complaint if you have any additional information or problems.
For more information about Identity Theft, visit the FTC Web site at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft. The site also contains this 10-minute educational video that outlines steps consumers can take to fight back against Identity Theft.
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