Identity theft occurs when someone obtains your personal information (social security number, credit card number, etc.) and then uses it to fraudulently apply for credit, make purchases, and/or withdraw money from your accounts, seriously jeopardizing both your financial health and your credit standing. There are many things you can do to reduce the risk of identity theft.
- Do not routinely carry credit cards you rarely use, your social security card, or any other non-essential items that contain personal information. Limit the number of credit cards you have and cancel any inactive accounts. Any of these can give an identity thief the opportunity to access not just the information on the cards, but also further personal data. For example, once identity thieves have your social security number, they can apply for a credit card or a driver’s license, access important personal records, and begin to assume your identity – all with this one number.
- Never leave your purse or wallet unattended at work, at restaurants, at health fitness clubs, in your shopping cart, or at parties. Never leave your purse or wallet in open view in your car, even when locked.
- 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.
- Destroy all checks immediately when you close a checking account. Destroy or keep in a secure place any courtesy, cancelled, or unused checks that your financial institution or credit card company may mail you. Shred any unused credit applications sent under your name.
- Carefully monitor financial statements (bank, credit union, credit card, investment statements, etc.) so that you may detect any unauthorized charges or withdrawals as soon as possible. Immediately report such unauthorized use to your financial institution or credit card company and immediately report lost or stolen checks to your financial institution.
- If regular bills fail to reach you, contact the company to find out why.
- Memorize your passwords and personal identification numbers (PIN). Never keep your PIN number with your ATM/debit or credit cards and never give out your PIN number to anyone. Shield the ATM keypad when entering your PIN number and always take your receipt with you. Always request your credit card receipts and/or carbons.
- Photocopy or list all credit and identification cards you carry with you. Include both the front and back as well as corresponding customer service phone numbers so you can quickly contact the issuers to inform them of lost and/or stolen cards. Keep this information in a secure place (not your wallet or purse).
- Do not put outgoing mail in your mailbox. Take the time to drop it into a Postal Service box (especially bill payments). Identity thieves can obtain personal information by stealing outgoing mail.
- At least once a year, order a copy of your credit report and check it for accuracy. You can obtain a free yearly credit report by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com. You can also call 1-877-322-8228. Or mail to: Annual Credit Report Request Service P.O. Box 10528, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
We are always happy to answer any questions you might have about your accounts, about identity theft, or any other financial concerns. Call us immediately at 860.513.5000 or 800.526.6933 if you suspect tampering with any of your accounts. We will be glad to work with you to stop unauthorized use of your accounts, and help you get things back to normal again as quickly as possible.
It is important to remember that we will never ask you for personal bank account or credit card information.
For more information about Credit Reporting, click here.