- What is Identity Theft
- How Identity Theft Happens
- What to do if You've Become a Victim of Identity Theft
- Additional Ways to Protect Your Identity
- We're Here to Help
What is Identity Theft
Identity theft occurs when a criminal obtains your personal information to steal money from your accounts, open new credit cards, apply for loans, rent apartments and commit other crimes — all using your identity. These acts can damage your credit, leave you with unwanted bills and cause you countless hours of frustration to clear your good name.
Victims of identity theft often aren't aware they've been targeted until unknown charges appear on their bank or credit card statements, are contacted by a collection agency or are denied credit.
How Identity Theft Happens
Here are some of the most common ways identity thieves can gain access to your information:
- Steal wallets and purses containing your identification, credit and bank cards.
- Steal your mail, including bank and credit card statements, phone bills and tax information.
- Complete a "change of address form" to divert your mail to another location.
- Steal or illegally purchase personal information you share on the Internet.
- Call you claiming to be a reputable company asking for personal information.
- Send you an email, appearing to be from a reputable company, requesting you to respond or go to a web site and provide your personal information. This practice is known as "Phishing" (pronounced "fishing").
- Set up bogus web sites that look like familiar legitimate sites and ask you to provide personal information. This practice is known as "spoofing".
What to do if You've Become a Victim of Identity Theft
If you're a victim of account fraud, you should notify your bank(s) immediately. If your account(s) is with Washita State Bank you should call our Customer Service Department @ 580-562-4871 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Customer Service agents will work with you in an effort to make appropriate corrections of unauthorized transactions in your Washita State Bank accounts. We will also correct any erroneous reports submitted by us to credit bureaus, and will attempt to help protect you from future identity theft or account fraud. We suggest that you immediately:
- Contact the fraud department of one of the three credit bureaus. Ask them to place a "fraud alert" on your file. This tells creditors to call you before they open any more accounts in your name. The credit bureau you contact will forward the fraud alert to the remaining two credit bureaus automatically.
Equifax Experian TransUnion 1-800-525-6285 1-888-397-3742 1-800-680-7289 P.O. Box 740241 P.O. Box 9532 P.O. Box 6790 Atlanta, GA 30374-0241 Allen, TX 75013 Fullerton, CA 92834
- Contact your local police department and ask to file a report. Even if the police can't catch the identity thief, having a police report can help you in clearing up your credit records later on.
- Notify the issuers of the credit cards you carry. If unauthorized charges appear on your legitimate credit cards or if unauthorized cards have been issued in your name, request replacement cards with new account numbers. Also monitor credit card bills for new fraudulent activity. If found, report it immediately to the credit card issuers and credit reporting agencies.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Call the FTC's identity theft hotline toll-free at 1 (877) IDTHEFT (438-4338). The hotline is staffed by counselors trained to help victims and take their complaints. You may also file a complaint online at www.consumer.gov/idtheft.
- Check online accounts, merchants or payment services that you use for any fraudulent activity on your account.
- Contact the Social Security Administration Fraud Hotline (800) 269-0271 to report the unauthorized use of your personal identification information.
- Notify the Department of Motor Vehicles of your identity theft. Check to see whether an unauthorized license number has been issued in your name.
- Contact the local office of the U.S. Postal Service or go to www.usps.com to file an "Identity Theft via United States Mail" complaint form with the Postal Inspector.
- Document the names and phone numbers of everyone you speak to regarding the incident. Follow up your phone calls with letters. Keep copies of all correspondence.
Additional Ways to Protect Your Identity
There are some simple precautions you can take to minimize the chance that you will be a victim of identity theft:
- Check your credit report regularly. Consumers are entitled under federal law to get one free comprehensive disclosure of all the information in their credit file from each of the above national credit bureaus once every 12 months. You may request your free annual credit report by visiting www.AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling (877) FACTACT.
- Shred your confidential mail.
- Keep account numbers, Personal Identification Numbers (PIN's), credit cards, debit cards, and checks in a secure location.
- Don't select a PIN that has personal significance, such as birthday or address. Change your PIN frequently.
- Memorize your PIN. Do not share your account numbers or PIN's with friends or family.
- When conducting transactions on the Internet make sure the web sites you visit are secure and reputable. Utilize anti-virus software to detect malicious messages and firewalls to prevent hackers attempting to take control of your computer.
- Always take your receipts with you when using your debit card at a merchant or ATM.
- Never give your confidential information, including your account number and social security number, to a phone caller regardless of whom they claim they are representing. Reputable companies and organizations will never request this information via phone.
- Delete unsolicited or unknown email.
We're Here to Help
The unauthorized use of someone's identity is a serious matter to Washita State Bank. If you suspect you may be a victim of identity theft or account fraud, please contact our Customer Service department immediately.