SecurityIdentity theft occurs when your personal information is obtained and used to open new bank accounts, credit card accounts, secure loans or even commit a crime.
Phishing is a scheme utilized by fraudsters to trick unsuspecting individuals into disclosing personal and confidential information by posing as a trusted financial institution, an online retailer or other service provider.
Pharming utilizes computer software to collect personal and confidential information from your computer and deliver it back to the fraudsters.
ATM tampering occurs when a fraudster attaches a skimming device to the ATM swiping mechanism that will be used to download your card information so that a duplicate card can be produced to make fraudulent purchases and withdrawals. Skimming also occurs at restaurants when your card is given to the waiter or waitress for processing.
Criminals also gather personal and confidential information by:
- Stealing bank statements, credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers, new checks from mailboxes.
- Stealing wallets and purses
- Changing your mailing address to another address monitored by the fraudster
- Finding personal information in your home or trash
- Hacking into computer systems
- Do NOT reply to unsolicited emails, pop-up messages or phone calls requesting personal and confidential information.
- Do NOT let your debit or credit card out of your sight when making a purchase.
- Use updated anti-virus and anti-spyware software on your computer along with a firewall.
- Review all account statements carefully to verify all transactions.
- Review your credit bureau report annually. You are entitled to one free report each year. To request your free report, call (877) 322-8228 or go to www.annualcreditreport.com .
- Shred all confidential information before disposing of it.
- Close and destroy unused credit and ATM cards.
- Remove mail promptly from your mailbox.
- Refrain from leaving mail in your mailbox for the mail carriers to pickup to be mailed.
- Never write your PIN number on your ATM, debit or credit card. Never allow the cashier to enter your PIN. Always keep your PIN confidential.
- Verify that your internet shopping sites are secure.
- Observe the ATM surroundings before conducting a transaction.
- Block the view of others when entering your PIN at an ATM or a point of sale terminal.
If you discover that you have given out personal and confidential information in response to a fraudulent request, report the incident to your account providers immediately. You should also report the incident to all three credit reporting agencies:
Equifax (800) 525-6285
TransUnion (800) 680-7289
Experian (888) 397-3742