What is Identity Theft?
According to the FBI, identity theft is one of the fastest growing white-collar crimes in the U.S., with over 500,000 consumers victimized by this each year. In an effort to make you aware of this, we are providing you with some helpful information, including some ways to protect yourself and what to do if you are victimized.
Identity Theft is the fraudulent use of an individual's person identifying information. Often, identity thieves will use another individual's personal information such as social security number, mother's maiden name, date of birth, or account number to fraudulently open new credit card accounts, charge existing credit card accounts, write checks, open bank accounts, or obtain new loans. They may obtain this information through a number of means, including:
- Stealing wallets that contain personal identifying information and credit cards,
- Stealing financial institution statements from the mail
- Diverting mail from its intended recipients by submitting a change of address form
- Rummaging through trash for personal data
- Stealing personal identification information from workplace data
- Intercepting or otherwise obtaining information transferred electronically
Law enforcement agencies have recommended that you can do several things to protect yourself against identity theft:
- Do not give personal information, such as account numbers or social security numbers, over the telephone, through the mail, or over the Internet UNLESS YOU INITIATED THE CONTACT or know with whom you are dealing.
- Store personal information in a safe place or tear up old credit card receipts, ATM receipts, old account statements, and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.
- Protect your PINs and other passwords. Memorize them instead of writing them down. Avoid using easily available information like your mother's maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your social security number, your phone number, etc.
- Carry only the minimum amount of identifying information and the number of credit cards that you need.
- Pay attention to billing cycles and statements. Please call Tulsa National Bank if you do not receive a monthly statement; it may mean your statement has been diverted. You should also pay attention to bills and other statements that contain identifying personal information.
- Check account statements carefully to ensure all charges, checks, or withdrawals were authorized.
- Guard your mail from theft. If you have the type of mailbox with a flag to signal the box contains mail, do not leave bill payment envelopes in your mailbox with the flag up. Instead, deposit them in a post office collection box or at the local post office. Promptly remove incoming mail.
- Order copies of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus once a year to ensure they are accurate. The law permits the credit bureaus to charge you $8.50 (unless you live in a state that requires that requires credit bureaus to provide you with one free copy of your report annually. OK is not one of those states but will be provided upon written request.)
- If you prefer not to receive pre-approved offers of credit, you can opt out of such offers by calling 1-888-5-OPT-OUT. (1-888-567-8688). It takes 5 business days, and will prevent any mailings that are screened by the major credit reporting agencies. It will not prevent other offers and mailings
- If you want to remove your name from many national direct mail lists send your name and address to:
DMA MAIL PREFERENCE SERVICE
P.O. BOX 9008
FARMINGDALE, NY 11735-9008
- If you want to reduce the number of telephone solicitations from many national marketers, send your name, address, and telephone number to:
DMA TELEPHONE PREFERENCE SERVICE
P.O. BOX 9014
FARMINGDALE, NY 11735-9014
Assistance For Victims
Here are some things you should do immediately upon learning you have been victimized by identity theft:
- Contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus to report the identity theft and request that the credit bureaus place a fraud alert and a victim's statement in your file. The fraud alert puts creditors on notice that you have been the victim of fraud and the victim's statement asks them not to open additional accounts without first contacting you. The following are the telephone numbers for the fraud departments of the three national credit bureaus:
- You may request a free copy of your credit report. Credit bureaus must provide a free copy of your report if you have reason to believe the report is inaccurate because of fraud and you submit a request in writing.
- Review your report to make sure no additional fraudulent accounts have been opened in your name, or unauthorized changes made to your existing accounts. Also, check the section of your report that lists "inquiries" and request that any inquiries from companies that opened the fraudulent accounts be removed.
- Contact any financial institution or other creditor where you have an account that you think may be the subject of identity theft. Advise them of the identity theft. Request that they restrict access to your account, change your account password, or close your account if there is evidence your account has been the target of criminal activity.
- File a report with the Tulsa Police Department 596-9222, or walk in to one of the stations to file a report.
- Contact the FTC's Identity Theft Hotline toll-free at 1-877-ID-THEFT (1-877-438-4338). The FTC puts the information into a secure consumer fraud database and shares it with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.
Your awareness of the potential risk, and the steps you take to proactively prevent these crimes from happening, will help minimize the risk of this happening to you. If you have more questions about this, please contact your Tulsa National Banker.