Identity Theft is a serious crime. People whose sensitive personal information has been stolen can spend substantial time and money cleaning up the mess criminals have made of their good name and credit record. The consequences could be lost job opportunities or damaged credit. Some victims have even been arrested for crimes they didn't commit.
How do thieves obtain personal information?
Skilled identity thieves use a variety of ways to gain access to your personal information. For example, they may:
- Steal your wallet or purse.
- Steal your mail.
- Rummage through your trash or public trash sites
- Collect your information through email phishing or phone scams, often pretending they are from a legitimate company, and/or claiming you have a problem on your account.
Has someone stolen your personal information?
If you fear someone has stolen your personal information, following are some indications that identity theft may have occurred:
- Failing to receive bills or other mail on time.
- Receiving credit cards for which you did not apply.
- Denial of credit for no apparent reason.
- Receiving calls from debt collectors or companies about products or services you did not purchase.
Precautions you should take:
- Carefully monitor the balances and statements of all your financial accounts. Use Online or Mobile Banking from Athens Federal to monitor your bank accounts anytime, anywhere from the convenience of your personal computer, tablet or smartphone.
- Look for unexplained charges or withdrawals.
- Place complex passwords on all of your financial accounts (include upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters).
- Limit the number of credit cards or other identifying information that you carry daily.
- Shred any identifying information before discarding it. Don't forget pre-approved credit offers, charge receipts, checks and bank statements and insurance forms. With eNotifications from Athens Federal, bank statements are archived safely and electronically within your Online Banking account.
- Update the virus protection software on your PC regularly; do not open files from strangers or companies you do not recognize.
- Use a "wipe" utility program to overwrite the entire hard drive before disposing of a computer.
ID Theft Victims Immediate StepsIf you are the victim of identity theft, take the following four steps as soon as possible, and keep records of your conversations and copies of all correspondence.
1. Place an initial fraud alert on your three credit reports by calling any of the three credit reporting companies - that company is required to notify the other two. Fraud departments of the credit reporting companies: Equifax (1-800-525-6285), Experian (1-888-397-3742), Transunion (1-800-680-7289).
2. Order your credit reports by calling all three credit reporting companies - identity theft victims may obtain reports at no charge. If you know that some of your accounts are affected by identity theft, contact those companies by calling the fraud department and writing the company a letter.
3. Create an Identity Theft Report by submitting a complaint to the FTC by phone at 1-877-438-4338 (1-866-653-4261 TTY) or online at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov. You may speak to a counselor who will gather information about your complaint. Be sure to ask the counselor to email a copy of the link. Print and keep a copy of the completed complaint, called the "Identity Theft Affadavit."
4. File a police report. Be sure to take your FTC Identity Theft Affadavit with you. Obtain a copy/number of your police report and keep both it and the affadavit in a safe place for future reference.