Following are a number of common questions relating to identity theft and what you should do if you suspect you are a victim:
What is identity theft?
Identity theft is a crime where someone steals key pieces of your personal information – your name, driver’s license number, Social Security Number, or an account number – for fraudulent use. Often, identity thieves can drain assets from your existing accounts, open new accounts in your name, apply for credit, and charge purchases to you.
How do thieves get my information?
Typically, identity thieves steal information from outdoor mailboxes, garbage cans or dumpsters. Many people have also been victims of identity theft through telemarketing scams and computer hacking. In some cases, thieves pay retail clerks and other people with access to your personal information to copy it and pass it along.
What is the impact of identity theft?
Once it occurs, identity theft can impact your ability to make big purchases, like buying a car or house, getting a passport or new driver’s license, and collecting benefits that are due to you
How can I protect myself against identity theft?
The easiest way to protect yourself from identity theft is by protecting your personal information. We suggest that you always do the following:
- Shred any documents with account and other identifying numbers
- Check your personal credit report at least annually – quarterly recommended
- Change your email and other passwords regularly
- Think twice before sharing personal information with store clerks and telemarketers
- Get Identity Theft Reimbursement Insurance or use a credit monitoring service
- Stop paper statements. Get your statements online.
- Enroll in email alerts in your online banking to monitor your account activity.
Should I check my credit report regularly?
Checking your credit report regularly is one of the smartest ways to spot fraud, excessive inquiries and any negative reports. Contact the credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax or TransUnion Credit — for more information.
- Equifax: www.equifax.com or 1-800-525-6285
- Experian: www.experian.com or 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion: www.transunion.com or 1-800-680-7289
The government recently enacted legislation enabling consumers to receive a free credit file disclosure, commonly called a credit report, once every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
To receive your report, go to AnnualCreditReport.com. AnnualCreditReport.com is the official site to help consumers to obtain their free credit report.
What can I do if I am a victim of identity theft?
If you think you are a victim of identity theft, follow these two important steps:
- Call your First Reliance Bank branch personal banker or 1-888-543.5510 to report the situation.
- File an Identity Theft Affidavit. Complete and send copies of this form to your bank, credit card companies, mortgage holder, other organizations with which you have financial relationships, and all credit bureaus. If a thief has run up your credit cards, drained existing accounts or opened accounts in your name, filing this form will make it easier to dispute charges.
How can I protect my credit if my identity has been stolen?
If you think your identity has been stolen, do the following:
- Call one of the three credit bureaus– Experian, Equifax or TransUnion — and ask them to place a fraud alert on your account. Once the alert is in place, it will be significantly more difficult for thieves to open fraudulent accounts in your name.
- Call your credit card companies and ask to close any accounts that you think might be compromised. Then ask to open new accounts with different identification numbers, passwords and PIN numbers.
- Call your local police and file a report. The report can be useful in clearing your name and your credit. Make sure you have a copy of the report for your records.
- If your Social Security Card is missing, call the Social Security Fraud Hotline at 800 269-0271.
What if I discover unauthorized accounts have been opened in my name?
If you receive any type of notification of unauthorized accounts opened in your name, do the following:
- Immediately call the businesses that have opened the accounts and make them aware that your identity has been stolen.
- Ask to have the accounts closed and the action confirmed in writing.
- Call the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at 877-ID-THEFT. The information you provide could be helpful in finding and convicting the people committing identity theft.
What if I think my mail is being stolen?
It is a federal offense to steal mail from a mailbox. If you think your mail is being removed from your mailbox without your authorization, do the following:
- Call you local post office and report the theft
- File a report with the U.S. Postal Service at www.usps.com or visit your local post office
What if I discover that checks have been stolen from my checkbook or mailbox?
If you notice checks are missing from your checkbook, or if an order of checks doesn’t arrive, do the following:
- Call First Reliance Bank and report the checks missing
- Issue stop payments on all missing checks
- Call the following check verification firms to determine if the checks have been presented for payment:
- Telecheck: 800-366-2425
- International Check Services: 800-526-5380
- SCAN: 800-262-7771
Will First Reliance Bank ever share my personal information with anyone else?
First Reliance Bank will not provide anyone out side of the First Reliance family of companies or agencies doing business with First Reliance with your personal account or contact information. We also will not sell your personal information to firms that claim they want to do business with you.
If you have any questions or concerns about identity theft, call First Reliance Bank at 1-888-543.5510.