When it comes to identity theft, you can’t entirely control whether you will become a victim. But there are certain steps you can take to minimize your risk. Though some things take a bit of effort, cleaning up the mess identity thieves leave behind is far more difficult and time-consuming.
At least annually, order a copy of your credit report.
An amendment to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each of the major nationwide consumer reporting companies to provide you with a free copy of your credit reports, at your request, once every 12 months.
To order your free annual report from one or all the national consumer reporting companies, visit www.annualcreditreport.com, call toll-free 877-322-8228, or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. You can print the form from ftc.gov/credit. Do not contact the three nationwide consumer reporting companies individually; they provide free annual credit reports only through the information listed above.
Dispute inaccurate information immediately.
Personal Identity Information
Keep all identification and financial documents in a safe and private place.
Secure personal information in your home, especially if you have roommates, employ outside help, or are having work done in your home
Keep information with us (the Credit Union) current. If your address or phone number changes, please let us know. It is important that we have current information on how to reach you. If we detect potentially fraudulent or unauthorized activity or use of an account, we will attempt to contact you immediately but we will NOT ask you for personal information. Change of address forms are available from the Accounts & Services section of this website.
As recommended by Javelin/Better Business Bureau, cancel your paper bills and statements wherever possible and instead check your statements and pay bills online. Monitor your account balances and activity electronically (at least once per week).
You can do this by taking advantage of our free Teller@home and e-bill services. We also offer e-statements through Teller@home free. Even your check images are now available for you to review just by clicking on the check number under Drafts. You can also set up e-bill to send you e-mail “alerts” when changes or transactions have been done.
Provide personal information only when:
You know how it will be used
You are certain it won’t be shared
You initiated contact and know who you’re dealing with
Don't give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or on the Internet unless you've initiated the contact or are absolutely sure you know who you're dealing with. Identity thieves are clever, and have posed as representatives of banks, Internet service providers (ISPs), and even government agencies to get people to reveal their Social Security number, mother's maiden name, account numbers, and other identifying information. Before you share any personal information, confirm that you are dealing with a legitimate organization. Check an organization's website by typing its URL in the address line, rather than cutting and pasting it. Many companies post scam alerts when their name is used improperly. Or, call customer service using the number listed on your account statement or in the telephone book.
Make all passwords hard to guess by using a complex combination of numbers and upper and lower case letters.
Place passwords on your credit card, credit union, and phone accounts. Avoid using easily available information like your mother's maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your Social Security number or your phone number, or a series of consecutive numbers. When opening new accounts, you may find that many businesses still have a line on their applications for your mother's maiden name. Ask if you can use a password instead.
Request a vacation hold if you can’t pick up your mail
If you're planning to be away from home and can't pick up your mail, call the U.S. Postal Service at 1-800-275-8777 to request a vacation hold. The Postal Service will hold your mail at your local post office until you can pick it up or are home to receive it.
Deposit your outgoing mail in post office collection boxes or at your local post office, rather than in an unsecured mailbox.
Remove mail from your mailbox promptly.
Keep your purse or wallet in a safe place at work; do the same with copies of administrative forms that have your sensitive personal information.
Be aware of your workplace’s security procedures
Memorize your Social Security number rather than carrying your Social Security Card; leave it in a secure place.
Review your Social Security annual statement for accuracy
Give your Social Security number only when absolutely necessary and to those you absolutely trust, and ask to use other types of identifiers. If your state uses your Social Security number as your driver's license number, ask to substitute another number. Do the same if your health insurance company uses your Social Security number as your policy number.
Before revealing your Social Security number, ask:
Why your number is needed
How your number will be used
What happens if you refuse
Be cautious when responding to promotions. Identity thieves may create phony promotional offers to get you to give them your personal information.
Treat your mail and trash carefully.
To thwart an identity thief who may pick through your trash or recycling bins to capture your personal information, tear or shred your charge receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, checks and bank statements, expired charge cards that you're discarding, and credit offers you get in the mail. To opt out of receiving offers of credit in the mail, call: 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688). The three nationwide consumer reporting companies use the same toll-free number to let consumers choose not to receive credit offers based on their lists. Note: You will be asked to provide your Social Security number which the consumer reporting companies need to match you with your file.
If you need immediate availability of funds, wire the funds to us and take advantage of IRS direct deposits.
Credit Card and ATM/Debit Cards
Carry only the identification information and the credit and debit cards that you'll actually need when you go out.
Shred all statements and pre-approved credit card offers with a crosscut shredder
Photocopy the front and back of all your cards and store in safe place so you have all the account numbers, expiration dates, etc.. If you lose your debit or credit card, call immediately. For Debit cards, call 800-264-5578. For Credit cards, call 800-991-4964 and call the credit union 556-7819.
Reduce the number of pre-approved offers you receive by adding your name to the name-deletion lists of the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service and Telephone Preference Service.
Cancel unused credit card accounts
Be aware of people behind you at the ATM, or anywhere else you swipe your card
If you give your credit or debit card to someone for a transaction, watch them swipe it and inspect the receipt for accuracy
Know your billing cycles and contact creditors if bills don’t arrive on time
Examine the charges on your credit card statements every month
Do not have your Social Security or driver license number printed on your checks
Know where your checkbook is at all times
Print firmly and use indelible ink when writing checks
Check your account statement for fraudulent activity
Do not give out your checking account number unless you know the company requesting the information and understand why the information is necessary
Update virus protection software periodically, and after every new virus alert is announced
Do not download files or open hyperlinks sent from people you don’t know
Use a firewall program to prevent your computer from being accessible to hackers
Use a secure browser to guard the security of your online transactions
Enter personal and financial information only when there is a “lock” icon (œ) on the browser’s status bar and look for the URL to read “https” versus “http”
If you must store personal and financial information on your laptop:
Use a strong password – one that is a hard-to-guess combination of upper and lower case letters and numbers
Don’t use an automatic log-in feature
Always log off when you’re finished
Before disposing of a computer, delete personal information using a “wipe” utility program to overwrite the entire hard drive.