What is identity theft?
Identity theft happens when a criminal obtains your personal information to steal money from your accounts, open new credit cards, apply for loans, rent apartments, and commit other crimes—all using your identity. These acts can damage your credit, leave you with unwanted bills, and cause you countless hours and frustration to clear your good name.
Go to Reporting Fraud to learn more about identity theft and help stop it in its tracks.
How do thieves steal an identity?
Identity theft starts when someone misuses your personal information such as your name and Social Security Number, credit card numbers, or other financial account information. For identity thieves, this information is as good as gold.
Skilled identity thieves may use a variety of methods to get hold of your information, including:
- Dumpster diving. They rummage through trash looking for bills or other paper with your personal information on it.
- Skimming. They steal credit/debit card numbers by using a special storage device when processing your card.
- Phishing. They pretend to be financial institutions or companies and send email or pop-up messages to get you to reveal your personal information.
- Changing your address. They divert your billing statements to another location by completing a change of address form.
- Old-fashioned stealing. They steal wallets and purses; mail, including financial account and credit card statements; pre-approved credit offers; and new checks or tax information. They steal personnel records, or bribe employees who have access.
- Pretexting. They use false pretenses to obtain your personal information from financial institutions, telephone companies, and other sources
How can I find out if my identity was stolen?The best way to find out is to monitor your accounts and statements each month, and check your credit report on a regular basis. If you check your credit report regularly, you may be able to limit the damage caused by identity theft.
What should I do if my identity is stolen?
If you are a victim of identity theft or account fraud, you should notify your creditors right away. If you are a customer of our Company, you should call our customer service representatives immediately at 1-855-920-9800. The Company will work with you to help correct any unauthorized transactions in your accounts, fix any incorrect reports that the Company may submit to credit bureaus and help protect you from any future identity theft or account fraud.
We also suggest that you immediately:
Call the fraud departments of all three credit bureaus. Ask them to put a “fraud alert” on your file. This tells creditors to call you before they open any more accounts in your name.
- Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
- Contact your local police and ask to file a report. Even if the police cannot catch the identity thief, having a police report can help you clear up your credit records later on.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Call the FTC's identity theft hotline toll-free at 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338). Trained counselors are standing by to help victims and take their complaints. You may also file a complaint online at www.identitytheft.gov.
- Complete the FTC’s Identity Theft Affidavit at www.identitytheft.gov, which will help you when reporting identity theft incidents to your creditors.
You may also want to review these resources for additional tips and information:
- Call the fraud departments of all three credit bureaus. Ask them to put a “fraud alert” on your file. This tells creditors to call you before they open any more accounts in your name.
What can I do to prevent identity theft?
The government estimates that 400,000 people fall prey to identity theft and online fraud each year. Here is what you can do to stop these crimes before they happen—and protect your assets and your good name:
- Do not provide financial information and, especially, your Social Security Number over the phone unless you initiate the call and know the person or organization you are dealing with. Do not give that information to any stranger, even one claiming to be from our Company.
- Notify the company of suspicious phone inquiries such as those asking for account information to “verify a statement” or “award a prize.”
- Guard your Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) for your debit/credit cards, and do not write on or keep your PINs with your cards. You should also guard your receipts. Thieves can use them to access your accounts.
- Select creative PINs for your debit/credit cards, and make sure your account passwords are hard to guess. Do not use birth dates, part of your Social Security Number or driver’s license number, address, children’s or spouse’s names, or part of the debit/credit card. Remember: If someone has stolen your identity, he or she probably has some or all of this information.
- If you receive financial solicitations that do not interest you, tear them up before throwing them away, so thieves cannot use them to assume your identity. Shred any other financial documents, such as statements or invoices, before you dispose of them.
- Do not put outgoing mail in or on your mailbox. Drop it into a secure, official Postal Service collection box. Thieves may use your mail to steal your identity.
- If you notice you have not received regular bills, call the company to find out why. Someone may have filed a false change-of-address notice to divert your information to his or her address.
- If your bills include suspicious items, do not ignore them. Instead, investigate immediately to head off any possible fraud before it occurs.
Periodically contact the major credit reporting companies to review your file and make certain your information is correct.
- Each major credit reporting agency is required to provide you with a free copy of your credit report once a year, upon request. Look out for credit inquiries from unfamiliar companies, accounts that you never opened, and unexplained debts; all of these are warning signs of fraud and identity theft. To order your free annual credit report, visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call toll-free 1-877-322-8228.
For a small fee, you can obtain a copy of your credit report anytime. (Please note that in some states or municipalities, you may be legally entitled to these reports free of charge. Check with the credit bureau when ordering the report.) The three major credit bureaus are:
- Equifax 1-800-525-6285
- Experian 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion 1-800-680-7289
You may also want to review these resources for additional tips and information:
- Onguard Online – Provides practical tips from the federal government and the technology industry to help you be on guard against Internet fraud, secure your computer, and protect your personal information.
- FDIC VIDEO – Don’t Be an Online Victim: How to Guard Against Internet Thieves and Electronic Scams
- U.S. Department of Justice - Fraud Section Websites
What do I do if I receive a phone call about my account?
You should never give out personal or financial information—especially, your Social Security Number—over the phone unless you initiate the call or know the person or organization you are dealing with.
No legitimate representative of the company will ever ask you for your PIN or password via email communication. They will request this information only when you call in to discuss your account.
Always use caution when you receive a phone call from someone who:
- Threatens to close or suspend your account if you do not provide personal information.
- Tells you that account has been compromised and then asks you to provide account or personal information.
- Requires you to provide any personal information, such as User ID, Password, or account numbers.
- Asks you to confirm, verify, or update your account, credit card, or billing information.
Please contact us immediately if you believe you have given out any personal information over the phone. To report a suspicious phone call or potential fraudulent activity, please follow these instructions.