At Community Bank of Tri-County, we strive to provide you an unparalleled banking experience – and we are committed to helping keep your financial information safeguarded from predators. Identity theft has become one of the fastest growing crimes in America, and we wanted to take this opportunity to share with you a few pointers on how to protect yourself.
Identity thieves are most interested in the personal information that would enable them to pass as you. This includes Social Security numbers, date of birth, mother’s maiden name and existing account numbers at your financial institution.
Identity thieves may often try to obtain information in one of the following ways:
- Stealing wallets or purses with everything in them
- Taking mail from your mailbox, especially bank statements and credit card statements
- Diverting your mail by using a change of address form at the Post Office
- Searching through your trash for tossed copies of statements
- Posing as a representative of your financial institution on the phone and asking about your account
To keep your information private, here are some of the tips to consider:
- Carry as few credit cards as possible and periodically check to make sure you still have them.
- Avoid carrying your Social Security card and passport unless they are needed.
- Never print your Social Security number on your checks.
- Guard your PIN (Personal Identification Number) carefully.
- Make your PIN and passwords hard for someone else to guess. Don’t use your birth date, phone number or last four digits of your Social Security number.
- Keep a list of your credit card and financial account numbers with phone numbers in a safe place.
- Do not give out financial information (account numbers, credit card numbers or your Social Security number) unless you know the organization or person requesting this information. Notify Community Bank of Tri-County or your credit card company of any suspicious phone inquiries, such as those asking for account information.
- Review your financial and credit card statements carefully for unknown transactions. If you see one, call Community Bank of Tri-County or your credit card company immediately.
- Report lost checks, credit/check cards and ATM cards immediately. Community Bank of Tri-County can immediately block account funds.
- Instead of signing the back of your credit card, write “See Photo ID,” this way if a thief takes your card it cannot be used without your identification.
- Shred any financial solicitations and bank statements before disposing of them. To avoid disposal of paper statements, Community Bank of Tri-County offers e-Statements and Bill Pay through Online Banking.
- Put outgoing mail into a secure, official Postal Service collection box. Some thieves have been known to raid home mail boxes.
- Periodically review your credit file and make certain the information is correct. You are entitled to one free credit report annually from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). The three nationwide consumer reporting companies have set up one central website, toll-free number and mailing address through which you can order your free annual report. For a free report, visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call 877-322-8228.
- Install a firewall, anti-virus software, and anti-spam software on your computer and make sure these systems are updated often. Be wary of pop-ups. Look at them closely before clicking anything. You may think you are closing the box, but instead you could be allowing a virus to be planted on your computer. Be wary of emails from people you don’t know.
- Use common sense and caution when deciding to provide personal information.
While there are no guarantees that these steps will prevent identity thieves from attacking you, the harder you make it to steal your identity, the less likely you are to become an identity theft victim. For more information on identity theft, please visit our Learning Center.
Here at Community Bank of Tri-County, we see ourselves as your banking partner. If you ever suspect you have become a victim of identity theft, or would like to discuss how to further safeguard yourself, please contact your local branch.