Identity theft is serious. It could affect you or someone you know at any time. Identity theft occurs when someone takes your personal information—like your account numbers or social security number—and pretends to be you so they can run up charges or open accounts in your name. This can cost you money and severely damage your credibility. It can take months or even years to learn you've been a victim. Typically, victims discover they’ve been scammed when applying for mortgage or other loans, when reviewing their credit reports (claiming they have unpaid bills, negative or charged-off accounts, and more tied to their name).
3Rivers considers this crime a very serious threat. We continually monitor our security initiatives to protect members and their accounts. However, total security is only possible with your help.
Here are some steps you can take to help prevent identity theft from happening to you:
- Don't give out personal information, such as account or credit card numbers, via telephone or Internet unless you initiate the contact. Financial institutions and credit card companies typically already have this information and would not need to request it from you.
- Guard your personal identification numbers (PINs) and treat your receipts with care. Leaving them behind or throwing them away could leave them vulnerable to thieves, who may be able to use them to access your accounts.
- Report lost or stolen cards or checks immediately and properly store cards and chekcs (including canceled checks). Examine new checks to be sure none were stolen during shipment and store them is a safe location.
- Make sure your mailbox is secure and promptly remove mail once delivered. Identity thieves often will raid mailboxes to obtain credit card offers and financial statements. Using online account access with bill pay is a secure, fast way to pay bills – no postage to buy and no one can steal your paid bills from the mailbox. The USPS also recommends that, if you’re sending checks through the mail, you put the checks in the mailbox close to the pickup time in order to shorten the window that thieves have to steal them. For more information on how to protect yourself with mail theft click here.
- Destroy unused financial solicitations before discarding them. Also, tear up other financial documents before discarding them.
- Utilize major credit reporting companies annually to review your file. A copy of your credit report is available for a small fee. Also, think about placing credit freezes on your social security number to prevent your credit from being pulled without your expressed authorization. To learn more about having credit bureaus freeze your credit, click here.
If you are a victim of identity theft, take the following steps immediately:
- Contact your financial institutions.
- Contact your credit card suppliers.
- Contact the Social Security Fraud Hotline at 800.269.0271.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Identity Theft Hotline at 877.IDTHEFT or 877.438.4338.
For your convenience, the FTC provides an ID Theft Affidavit that can be completed and provided to each creditor, financial institution, or company that provided the thief with unauthorized credit or goods you describe. While this does not guarantee the thief will be prosecuted, or that the debt will be cleared, it will better enable the companies to investigate the fraud and decide the outcome of your claim.
For more information, read our blog post about identity theft.