CREDIT BUREAU INFORMATION/IDENTITY THEFT INFORMATION
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft: Identity theft is a crime in which an imposter obtains key pieces of personal information, such as Social Security or driver’s license numbers, in order to impersonate someone else. The information can be used to obtain credit, merchandise, and services in the name of the victim, or to provide the thief with false credentials. In addition to running up debt, an imposter might provide false identification to police, creating a criminal record or leaving outstanding arrest warrants for the person whose identity has been stolen.
Techniques for obtaining personal information
1. Account Hijacking: recent studies indicate that unauthorized access to checking accounts is the fastest growing form of identity theft, occurring primarily through phishing.
- Hijacking by Phishing: Phishing is a scheme used by fraudsters – posing as a trusted financial institution, ATM/debit network, credit-card company, online retailer or other service provider – to trick unsuspecting individuals into disclosing personal and/or financial information. Typically, you receive an unsolicited e-mail or phone call appearing to be from an organization you readily recognize asking you to verify personal and/or financial information.
- Bank of Mauston will never call you and ask you to provide us with personal information. If someone calls you and claims to be from The Bank of Mauston and asks you for personal information, do not give out any information and contact us immediately.
- If the phishing attack is in the form of an e-mail, it may use the name, logo, and web site attributes of the legitimate business. Our website, Internet Banking, and BillPay all have authenticating features so our customers can be sure they are on the correct sites.
2. Pharming: Pharming uses computer software, such as crimeware, malware or spyware, to collect personal information from your computer and deliver it back to fraudsters. In pharming, consumers who are attempting to log onto a legitimate Web site are unknowingly redirected by the fraudulent software to an authentic-looking but bogus site. When the consumer enters his or her personal log-in information, the criminals capture this sensitive information and may use it for a variety of violations, including accessing your accounts and making online purchases. Since little or no participation on your part is necessary, and the redirect happens behind the scenes, pharming is extremely difficult to detect.
3. ATM Tampering: Thieves tamper with ATMs in various ways in order to steal your personal information and tap into your accounts.
Other Ways Criminals Get Your Personal Information:
- Stealing mail or rummaging through rubbish containing personal information (dumpster diving)
- Retrieving information from redundant equipment, like computer servers that have been disposed of carelessly, e.g. at public dump sites, given away without proper sanitizing etc.
- Researching about the victim in government registers, internet search engines, or public records search services.
- Stealing wallets or purses.
- Eavesdropping on public transactions to obtain personal data.
- Stealing personal information from computers and computer databases (Trojan horses, hacking and Zero day attacks)
- Advertising bogus job offers (either full-time or work from home based) to which the victims will reply with their full name, address, telephone numbers, and banking details
- Infiltration of organizations that store large amounts of personal information
- Browsing social network (MySpace, Facebook, Bebo etc) sites, online for personal details that have been posted by users
- Changing your address thereby diverting billing statements to another location to either get current legitimate account info or to delay discovery of fraudulent accounts.
Tips For Combating Identity Theft
Identity theft in its many forms continues to be a concern…one that The Bank of Mauston and financial regulators are addressing daily. It is important to remember, however, that just as our defenses against identity theft become more sophisticated, so do the methods that criminals use to defraud consumers. Knowing about the threat is the first line of defense. That means keeping abreast of the frauds active in today’s environment…and knowing what you can do to protect yourself.
How to Safeguard Yourself
Passwords: Make them unique and hard for criminals to guess (i.e. do not use your street address). Do not share passwords with other people and do not write passwords or Personal Identification Numbers down.
Anti-Virus: Keep your computer’s anti-virus software up-to-date. New viruses are being created every day.
Anti-Spyware: Software to detect and remove spyware is readily available and should be on all computers.
Don’t Get Phished: Don’t answer any suspicious e-mails. And always remember that The Bank of Mauston will not ask you to “verify” any information through an e-mail. If you get such an e-mail, it’s a scam.
- Destroy credit card solicitations before throwing them away. “Dumpster-diving” is still one of the ways criminals get cards in your name.
- Prepare a list of your credit card numbers and company contact information.
- Shred bank statements before discarding.
- Report lost or stolen cards immediately.
- Review account statements regularly to verify all transactions.
- Review your credit report on an annual basis (see information below).
- Protect your purse or wallet.
Credit Card Fraud
Stolen credit card information is the most common transaction fraud. In its simplest form, it involves a criminal stealing your credit card information and running up charges in your name. This can lead to identity theft if fraudsters steal your personal information, then open new credit card accounts in your name. Left unchecked, it can spoil your credit record, ruin your credit score, and make it difficult to land a new mortgage or even a job!
Regardless of the means, the result is that victims must spend extensive time and energy correcting the damage done by having credit illegally issued in their name.
Check List for Victims of Identity Theft
If you become a victim of identity theft you should do the following:
- File a police report
- Contact your bank
- Cancel your credit cards
- Notify credit bureau fraud units (telephone numbers provided below)
- Place a fraud alert statement on your credit report
- Request that credit bureaus identify accounts closed due to fraud as “closed by consumer’s request”
- Request a free credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com
- Check post office for unauthorized change of address requests
- Follow-up telephone contacts with letters and keep copies of all correspondence
How to obtain a free Credit Report:
Consumers may obtain a credit report from one, two, or all three of the nationwide consumer reporting agencies; however, consumers only need to submit one request. Requests may be submitted on-line at www.annualcreditreport.com or by phone at 1-877-322-8228 or by submitting a standard request form by mail to:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
In addition to one free credit report every twelve months, consumers are entitled to an additional free credit report if they are denied credit, insurance, or employment based on their credit; if they are unemployed and planning to look for work; if they are welfare recipients; or if their credit reports are inaccurate due to fraud, including identity theft. If a consumer wants a credit report more frequently than every twelve months and does not meet any of these criteria, there is a charge per copy.
Consumers should be sure to review their credit reports carefully. They should take note of any negative remarks that indicate late payments. If a consumer has been a victim of identity theft, the late payments may be on accounts opened fraudulently. Consumers should be sure they recognize all reported accounts on their credit report.
If a credit report reveals incorrect information or unfamiliar accounts, consumers should call immediately and request that a fraud alert be placed on their credit reports. Toll-free numbers and websites for each of the consumer reporting agencies are listed below. Once a fraud alert is in place, creditors should contact the consumer directly before opening any new accounts. Consumers should also contact the creditors for any accounts that list incorrect information or that have been opened fraudulently and request that those accounts be closed.
Consumer Reporting Agency Contact Information
(consumers should not contact these agencies directly for the Free Credit Report offer. Please refer to above)