What is identity theft?
Identity theft happens when someone uses information about you without your permission. There are many pieces of your personal information they could use including:
- Name and address
- Credit card or bank account numbers
- Social Security number
- Medical insurance account numbers
What do they do with the information once they have it?
They might use the information to apply for a credit card in your name. They can change the address, have the bills come to them and then not pay them. You might have to pay for what the thief buys even if you did not know about the purchases. A thief could also use your information to open a cable, phone or gas and electric account. They could steal your tax refund or get medical services under your name. All of these things will have an impact on your credit rating which can keep you from getting credit cards or loans when you need them. Businesses look at your credit report and if they see the thief's delinquent activity, they might not rent to you or allow you to get utilities.
How would I know if someone stole my identity?
There are different ways to tell if a thief has gotten a hold of your information. You may find withdrawals that you did not make on your bank account statement, or charges on a credit card for purchases you did not make. If you notice you have not been getting a certain bill in the mail, it could be that someone has taken over that account. Another good way to check for identity theft is to review your credit report for suspicious activity.
How can I protect myself from identity theft?
There are many things you can do (or not do) to prevent identity theft. The most important of these is to not share personal information. Just because someone asks for it, does not mean they should have it. Here are some tips for keeping your information secure:
- Keep an eye on your wallet or purse and be careful when using your credit and debit cards.
- Secure your Social Security number (SSN) and only give it out when necessary. Do not carry your Social Security card around with you; keep it safe at home in a lock box.
- Do not share your pin numbers or passwords with anyone. Make sure to use strong passwords and not information that someone could guess about you.
- Do not share personal information such as your birthdate, mother's maiden name or pet’s name on social media such as Facebook. These things are often used in security questions and could allow a thief to bypass security measures on your accounts.
- Collect mail every day or place a hold on it when you are away from home for several days.
- If bills or financial statements are late, contact the sender.
- Review account statements for unauthorized transactions.
- Open all mail, even if you don’t think you have an account with the sender.
- Make sure you shop on secure websites. You can identify these by the https secure site prefix.
- Use security features on your phone and computers.
- Shred receipts, credit offers, account statements and expired credit cards to prevent thieves from stealing personal information from your garbage.
- You can freeze your credit files with Equifax, Experian, Innovis, TransUnion, and the National Consumer Telecommunications and Utilities Exchange for free. Credit freezes prevent someone from applying for and getting approval for a credit account or utility services in your name.
Never take the security of your personal information for granted. If you do fall victim to identity theft, report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) online at IdentityTheft.gov or by phone at 1-877-438-4338.
First Financial Bank is not affiliated with any third parties mentioned above. Any reference to any person, organization, activity, product, and/or services does not constitute or imply an endorsement. By clicking on a third party link you acknowledge you are leaving www.bankatfirst.com.