Identity theft happens when someone uses your personal information without your knowledge to commit fraud and other crimes. The identity thief may steal your account number, Social Security number (and more) and use this information illegally to open accounts, apply for credit, and commit a variety of other illegal transactions in your name. In many cases, the victim is unaware of the activity until months after the incident.
Identity Theft can happen in various ways:
- After someone steals your wallet, purse or mail
- By stealing personnel records from employers
- By pretending to be financial institutions or businesses and sending spam email (called phishing) or pop-up messages in an attempt to get you to reveal your personal information
- Identity thieves will also rummage through the trash at your home or workplace looking for bills or other documents with your personal information on it
To protect your identity, you should:
- Review your credit reports. You can do this for free annually. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1-877-322-8228 to request a free copy of your credit report from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
- Be cautious when providing personal information such as your Social Security number and account or credit card information over the telephone, in person or on the Internet. Don't give out this information unless you are sure with whom you are dealing. Know who you are speaking with before providing any confidential information. If you are not sure about the legitimacy of the caller, hang up and call back by utilizing a telephone number familiar to you.
- Protect your Social Security number and the Social Security numbers of your children or other family members by not carrying them in your wallet.
- Report lost or stolen checks, credit or debit cards immediately. Sooper will block payment on the check numbers or account numbers involved.
- Store cancelled checks, new checks and account statements in a safe place.
- Notify Sooper of suspicious phone inquiries or text messages asking for personal information.
- Memorize your PIN (Personal Identification Number) and refrain from writing it down. Also, don't write your Social Security number or credit card number on a check.
- Tear up or shred any pre-approved credit offers to which you do not respond. Thieves can use these offers to assume your identity.
- Keep mail secure. Don't mail bills or sensitive information from your home or unsecured mailboxes. Retrieve and review your mail promptly. Thieves may use the personal information contained in your mail to steal your identity.
- If you do not receive your regular bills when expected, call the company to find out why.
- Review your monthly account statements thoroughly. Investigate suspicious items immediately to head off any possible fraud before it occurs.
- Adopt daily practices like shredding your personal & financial documents, staying aware of the latest scams, protecting your home computer with anti-spyware, virus detection software and firewalls. Keep these programs up to date.
- Sign up for e-Statement services – not only does it protect your monthly statement, it also cuts down on paper and postage expense!
- Never click on links sent to you by an unsolicited email.
- Be alert for warning signs of possible identity theft, such as:
- Regular bills that do not arrive as expected
- Denials of credit for no apparent reason
- Account Statements or credit cards in the mail that you were not expecting.
- Calls or letters concerning purchases you did not make
- Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Think twice before responding to offers that promise too much.
If you are a victim of identity theft, take the following steps:
- If you are a Sooper Credit Union member, contact us immediately by calling 303-427-5005 or 1-888-SOOPER-1.
- Close or transfer those accounts that have been compromised or tampered with to a new account number.
- Request that any account that was fraudulently opened in your name be closed immediately.
- Place a Fraud Alert on your Credit Report. You can do this by contacting the Credit Bureaus:
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742
- Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
- Request a copy of your Credit Reports and review them carefully. Question any unknown activity and report disputes in writing.
- File a police report and maintain a copy in your file for future reference.
- File a report with the Federal Trade Commission. You can do this online via ftc.gov