Identity Theft and Financial Fraud

Many people do not realize how easily criminals can obtain personal data.  They may gain information about you by stealing unopened mail or sifting through documents that you have thrown away.  In recent years, the Internet has opened the door to a variety of means for criminals to obtain your personal data.  To minimize the chances that you fall victim to identity theft and financial fraud, it is vital that you learn how to protect yourself.

How to Safeguard Yourself


• Do not reply to any unsolicited e-mail, pop-up message or phone call asking for personal and/or financial information. Be suspcious of anyone who contacts you with an urgent request for personal information. It is unlikely that legitimate businesses will ever engage in these practices.


• Do not click on any e-mail link if you suspect the message is fraudulent, not even to "unsubscribe." Instead, call the business using the number on the back of your card or on your monthly statement to confirm the legitimacy of the e-mail. Never send personal or financial information via e-mail.


• If you initiate an online transaction and are required to provide personal data, look for indicators that the Web site is secure, like the "https" in the URL or padlock icon. While these indicators do not ensure the security of the site or your personal data, sites without them should be avoided. You should also verify that the URL of the site you are visiting is displayed accurately in the address bar.  


• Do not let your debit card out of your sight when purchasing goods and sevices. Although credit card information can also be skimmed, the theft of your debit card data involves greater risk because it is associated with your checking, savings or share draft account.  


•Use anti-virus software, anti-spyware and a firewall, and keep them up to date. Some phishing attacks contain software that can harm your computer or track your activities on the Internet without your knowledge.


• Review account statements regularly to verify all transactions. This review should include checking, savings and credit card accounts. Frequently log into your online accounts and review all activity. Immediately report any unauthorized activity to the account provider.

Additional Steps You Can Take to Prevent Financial Fraud


• Shred all personal and/or financial documents before disposing of them


• Destroy unused credit, ATM and debit cards


• Remove mail promptly from your mailbox


• Match receipts to monthly billing statements


• Memorize PINs, passwords and Social Security numbers


• Use longer, more complex PINs and change them periodically


• Sign all credit cards and debit cards immediately


• Notify financial institutions of address changed in advance


• Immediately report any unauthorized activity or phishing scams


• Look closely at ATMs to detect any suspicious alterations before using them


• Never use your PIN as a password