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Identity Theft - How It Happens; How to Prevent It

What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft happens when someone uses personal identification information, such as a name, address, birth date or Social Security number that is not their own in order to commit fraud.

How can I prevent Identity Theft?

Slavie can help protect you from Identity Theft through their safe and secure banking practices. Additionally, below are tips to help protect yourself and avoid becoming a victim of identity theft.

Methods Identity Thieves use to acquire key pieces of personal information

  • Theft of your wallet, purse, or checkbook.
  • Removing mail from your mailbox, either incoming or outgoing.
  • Going through your trash.
  • "Phishing" - Obtaining information by email scams or fraudulent Web sites (see this page).
  • Hacking - Illegally gaining access to computer systems containing personal or financial data.
  • Pretext Calling - Using false pretenses to obtain information via telephone.

How can I prevent Identity Theft?

Slavie can help protect you from Identity Theft through their safe and secure banking practices. Additionally, below are tips to help protect yourself and avoid becoming a victim of identity theft.

  • Never provide financial information or your Social Security number over the telephone unless you initiated the call and you know with whom you are dealing.
  • If you receive a telephone inquiry requesting you confirm or verify account information or a statement ask to call the caller back. Contact your bank or the account holder directly using the bank’s main number and confirm the inquiry is legitimate. It is extremely rare that requests for account verification are done over the phone.
  • Report lost or stolen checks immediately and have the bank stop payment on the checks.
  • If your new check order has not arrived within 21 days of placing your order, contact your local Slavie branch to verify your new check order was shipped.
  • When you receive new checks, always examine the check sequence to ensure that all checks are included.
  • Protect your new, current and canceled checks. Always store checks in a safe place.
  • Promptly report lost or stolen credit cards and debit/ATM cards.
  • Safeguard your account numbers, debit card and ATM Personal Identification Numbers (PIN).
  • Sign your credit cards or debit cards immediately upon receipt.
  • Never loan your credit card to anyone, under any circumstances.
  • Shred all receipts, financial statements, documents, bank statements and credit card bills, prior to disposing of them.
  • Remove incoming mail from your mailbox as soon as possible.
  • When mailing bills and credit card payments, take them to the post office or place them in a secure, official U.S. Postal Service collection box. Do not put bill payments in your mailbox, as this is an opportunity for an identity thief to access your personal information.
  • Promptly notify your bank and other creditors when you have a change of address.
  • Contact creditors if your regular monthly or quarterly bills do not arrive when expected.
  • Reconcile your banking statements monthly to ensure your account activity is correct. Contact your branch if any unauthorized transactions have occurred.
  • Never leave your checkbook, wallet or other personal information unprotected – even when at home. Others who enter your home should not have access to your personal or financial information.
  • Never routinely carry important documents such as Social Security cards, passports or birth certificates in your purse or wallet.
  • Review your credit report from all three major agencies at least once annually to confirm there were no unauthorized credit inquiries made or accounts opened in your name.

In addition to the above precautions, you should review your credit report from the three major agencies at least annually to confirm there were no unauthorized credit inquiries made or accounts opened in your name. The major credit reporting agencies are:

Equifax: 1-800-685-1111
TransUnion: 1-800-836-8761
Experian: 1-888-397-3742

You may consider using one of the credit report monitoring services offered through these credit reporting agencies.

Actions to take if you think you've been a victim of Identity Theft

If you think you've been a victim of identity theft, immediately contact the fraud division of the credit reporting companies and request that a "fraud alert" be placed in your file. Ask that no new credit be granted without your approval. The credit reporting agencies have agreed to notify one another when an individual places a fraud alert in his credit file. The individual need only call one of the credit reporting agencies; fraud Divisions for the major credit reporting agencies are:

Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
Experian: 1-888-397-3742
TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289

Notify the Social Security Administration by calling 1-800-772-1213 or visiting www.ssa.gov.

Notify your Slavie branch, and any other grantors of credit, of the fraud, then file a police report. Note: in making these notifications, you should never send originals of your documentation -- always make copies!

Report the fraud to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) toll free at 1-877-438-4338 or TDD: 202-326-2502. The FTC is the clearinghouse for identity theft complaints. The FTC offers information to help resolve financial problems that result from identity theft, and also provides an online form to submit a complaint to the FTC using Complaint Assistant. You should complete and submit the online form as soon as possible after you become aware of the fraud, as completing this affidavit can help protect you from responsibility for fraudulent charges on your accounts.

Remember -- keep detailed records of all events once you ascertain that your identity has been stolen. Include names, telephone numbers, and the date and time you made contact with individuals or companies requesting assistance in recovering your good name.

Where to go to obtain additional information on Identity Theft

The following companies and government agencies can provide more information about identity theft.

Credit Reporting Companies

Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
Experian: 1-888-397-3742
TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289

U.S. Government:

Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Hotline:
1-877-ID-THEFT (1-877-438-4338) Social Security Administration Fraud Hotline:
1-800-269-0271

In addition, here are some related topics of interest:

Security and Privacy
Identity Theft
About Credit Reports
About "Phishing"
News from the FTC
Our Privacy Statement