Unfortunately, identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States. It can create problems with your credit, finances, employment, and even your personal assets. With the holiday season upon us, I want to remind you that it is more important than ever to be careful with your personal information. I also want to provide you with some easy “best practices” for avoiding ID Theft.
- Review Credit Reports at Least Once a Year. The Fair Credit Reporting Act entitles consumers to a free credit report once a year from each of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies. This means you can get a free credit report three times a year – One from each credit reporting agency. You can receive reports by contacting the credit reporting agencies directly or by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com. Also… it’s important to know that annualcreditreport.com is the only place you can get your credit report free – freecreditreport.com is NOT free!
- Monitor Financial Statements and Online Banking Regularly. You should get into the habit of checking your statements and periodically reviewing your account transactions and online activities. This will help you identify unauthorized account activities early, preventing potential losses to your personal accounts.
- Shred Documents with Personal and Financial Information. Financial statements, credit card offers and billing statements are examples of documents you should be shredding.
- Look Out for Scams Involving Your Personal Information. Never give any credit card, financial institution, or social security information to anyone that has contacted you over the telephone or Internet. When you contact a company, make sure you are comfortable with the company and the representative before providing any personal information. Legitimate organizations never call you directly and ask for sensitive information over unsecured communication channels.
In addition to all this, we do our part to ensure you are protected by offering an Identity Theft Program that will help fix the damage that is done if your identity is stolen. In the event that you are a victim of ID Theft and you are enrolled with us for this service, you would give us a call and we would refer you to a Recovery Advocate, who would be assigned to your case until your identity is restored. Our program also:
- provides a customized recovery plan within 72 hours;
- alerts the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion);
- works with all government and law enforcement agencies to restore your identity;
- completes all forms and follow-up on your behalf.
We are always happy to answer any questions you might have about your accounts, identity theft, or any other financial concerns. Please contact us immediately if you suspect tampering with any of your accounts. Our job is to work with you to stop unauthorized use of your accounts, and help you get things back to normal should you be a victim of identity theft.
Thank you for banking with us!
President and CEO