Protect Yourself Against Fraud and Identity Theft
At Home State Bank, we work hard to help safeguard our customers’ personal information from unscrupulous people. But identity theft is a challenge that all businesses and consumers must face head-on. What’s the best way to start? By learning about identity theft and taking as many precautions as possible help reduce your risk!
Have you received a suspicious email or text message?
Unfortunately, fraudulent emails and text messages asking for personal information are more common now than ever before. Sometimes they are easy to spot, since they often include spelling and grammatical mistakes, inappropriate language, or urgent language demanding an immediate answer. But some are not so easy to identify – except by remembering that Home State Bank, like other reputable financial institutions, will NEVER ask for your account information or any other personal information in an email or text message.
15 Tips to help prevent fraud and identity theft.
Here is a list of 15 tips that we’ve compiled, based on recommendations issued by the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), the Federal Trade Commission and other sources.
1. Check your credit report annually. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each of the three national credit reporting companies to provide consumers with a free copy of their credit report upon request once every 12 months.
THIS NOTICE IS REQUIRED BY LAW:
You have the right to a free credit report from
www.AnnualCreditReport.com or 877-322-8228,
the ONLY authorized source under federal law.
Read more at www.FTC.gov
2. Place passwords on all of your personal accounts.
3. Avoid passwords that include personal information. If you bank or pay credit cards on-line, avoid using passwords such as your mother’s maiden name or date of birth. Instead, use something unique that only you know.
4. Don't reveal personal information over the phone, through the mail, or over the Internet. Unless you've initiated the contact and are sure you know who you're dealing with, don’t reveal personal information such as your social security number, birth place and date, account numbers, or your mother’s maiden name. If you must share personal information, confirm that you are dealing with a legitimate organization.
5. If you receive a phone call or email asking you to verify information, end the call. Banks will not ask you to verify personal information over the phone or via email. Do not respond. Call your bank directly to report the call.
6. If you receive an e-mail asking for personal information, do not hit the reply button or click on any website link in the e-mail. Instead, go directly to the sender's website by typing in the sender's website address.
7. Don’t leave sensitive documents containing personal information where anyone can see them. Protect your personal information!
8. Guard your mail from trash theft. When you order checks from your bank, ask to have them held at the bank until you can pick them up. Don’t have them sent to an unlocked mail box. Also, be sure to pick up your mail regularly – don’t leave bills with personal information sitting in an unlocked mail box.
9. Use a shredder before disposing of personal records, especially financial records. A cross-cut shredder is preferred, since thieves have been known to paste together single-shred documents to obtain information. Remember to shred pre-approved credit offers, charge receipts, checks, bank statements and insurance forms.
10. Before you leave for your next vacation, temporarily stop your mail delivery. The U.S. Postal Service will hold mail for you.
11. Manage the information on your computer carefully. Be sure to keep your anti-virus software up to date. Don’t use an automatic log-in feature on your computer. Enable the security feature on your home wireless network, and require a password (called a “network key”) to use the network. And when it’s time to replace your computer with another, use a “wipe” program to overwrite the entire hard drive before disposing of your old computer. Many local computer retailers can provide this service – and recycle your old hardware, too, for a small charge.
12. Review your bills and account statements regularly. Monitor your charges, payments and balances carefully. Watch for unexplained charges or withdrawals.
13. Photocopy the contents of your purse and wallet. Be aware of the credit cards and personal information you carry. Do not carry a record of your social security number, and limit the credit cards you carry.
14. Report lost or stolen checks or credit cards immediately. Call your bank and credit card companies right away. You may also need to report the loss or theft to the credit reporting companies.
15. If you believe you’re a victim of identity theft, act quickly to limit the damage and report the crime. Visit the Federal Trade Commission website for instructions and documents that will help you to document the crime and notify local authorities.
If you have questions, stop by your local Home State Bank branch and ask a personal banker today. We’re here to help!
Helpful links and other information:
Central website sponsored by the three major credit reporting companies: www.annualcreditreport.com
Major credit reporting companies:
Trans Union 1-800-888-4213