Defining Identity Theft
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes. The individual in possession of your personal information (such as your social security number, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, or other identification) may try to open new accounts, initiate transactions in your name, withdraw funds, forge checks, apply for credit cards, or apply for loans. This can damage your credit worthiness, cause financial loss, and can result in a lengthy resolution process.
How Identity Theft Can Happen
There are many ways people can gain access to your personal information. Although it is true that some incidents are caused by online activity, many cases of identity theft are a result of low tech methods.
Ways that identity thieves can gain access to your personal information include:
- Stolen or lost wallets and purses
- Interception or rerouting of your mail
- Rummaging through your garbage or recycling
- Looking over your shoulder at an ATM or computer
- Calling you and posing as a bank, credit card company, government agency, or other legitimate source and requesting verification of personal information
- Spyware or viruses on your computers, including key loggers
- Fraudulent websites
- Fraudulent e-mails and phishing scams
Identity Theft Protection
There are many ways to help decrease the risk of identity theft. Please refer to our Security Statement and Online Security Tips for additional information about security. You may also visit the Federal Trade Commission’s resource on identity theft at www.ftc.gov/idtheft.
General tips to protect against identity theft include:
- Carry only necessities with you. Leave items like your social security card and extra credit cards at home in a safe place.
- Shred documents before throwing them in the trash. This can include your bank and credit card statements, credit card solicitations, and bills.
- Safeguard your checkbook. Store unused checks in a safe placed, limit personal information on your checks, and utilize tamper resistant checks. Harland checks purchased through RiverWood Bank feature many safety features.
- Cancel unused credit or check cards. If you are no longer using a credit card, contact the credit card company to cancel that card. When canceling or replacing an expired card, be sure to cut up or shred old cards.
- Keep your ATM PIN secure. Never give out your ATM PIN number. Never write down your PIN numbers. Avoid using obvious or easily obtainable numbers for your PIN such as birth dates, addresses, or phone numbers. Use extra caution when at ATMs in public areas.
- Regularly review your credit report. This should be done at least annually to detect inaccuracies on your credit report. A free credit report is available to individuals once a year from the three major credit bureaus, and can be obtained at www.annualcreditreport.com. For a fee, you can obtain a copy at any time from the credit reporting agencies:
- Limit the credit offers received in the mail. The credit bureaus offer a toll-free number to call to “opt-out” of having pre-approved credit offers sent to you. Call (888)-5OPTOUT (888-567-8688) for more information. You can also notify the three major credit bureaus in writing that you do not want personal information about you shared for promotional purposes.
- Equifax, Inc., Options, PO Box 740123, Atlanta, GA 30374-0123
- Experian, Consumer Opt-Out, 701 Experian Parkway, Allen, TX 75013
- TransUnion, Marketing List Opt-Out, PO Box 97328, Jackson, MS 39288-7328
- Never give out personal information to a caller. Beware of telephone scams where unsolicited callers may request information such as account numbers, social security numbers, or other personal information. Keep in mind that Caller ID information can be faked so that it looks like the caller is calling from a legitimate location.
- Practice safe mail handling. Retrieve incoming mail promptly, place outgoing mail in a US Postal service mail box and not in your own mail box, and know your statement and billing cycles so that you can detect statement fraud.
- Be cautious when using e-mail. Avoid suspicious e-mail that offers prizes or other special offers. Never respond to an e-mail asking you to verify information. Avoid opening unknown e-mail attachments. More information can be found in our Online Security Tips.
- Protect your Access ID and Password. Never write your password down or save it on your computer. Use unique passwords for sensitive sites like internet banking sites. Passwords should include both letters and numbers, and should not include familiar or sensitive things like your address, phone number, name, date of birth, or social security number.
- Review your account statements carefully. Be sure to review any checking, savings, or credit card statements regularly and report any suspicious activity or changes. You can also view your RiverWood Bank account online and monitor your account as often as you like.