Click the links below to navigate through helpful information, learn about common schemes and how to prevent yourself from falling victim, and what steps to take if you do.
- Protect Yourself From Identity Theft
- What to Do If You Are a Victim of Identity Theft
- Identity Theft Prevention and Resolution Packet
- Swipe and Sign for Safety's Sake
Together we can head off identity theft and account fraud before it happens.
- DO NOT GIVE PERSONAL INFORMATION such as account numbers or social security numbers, over the telephone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless you initiated the contact or know with whom you are dealing.
- STORE PERSONAL INFORMATION in a safe place and tear up old credit card receipts, ATM receipts, old account statements, and unused credit card offers before throwing them away. If you prefer not to receive pre-approved offers, you can opt out of such offers by calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT.
- PROTECT YOUR PINS AND OTHER PASSWORDS. Avoid using easily available information like your mother's maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your social security number, your phone number, etc.
- CARRY ONLY THE MINIMUM amount of identifying information and the number of credit cards that you need.
- PAY ATTENTION TO BILLING CYCLES AND STATEMENTS. Contact the bank if you do not receive a monthly bill; it may mean an identity thief has diverted the bill.
- REPORT LOST OR STOLEN CHECKS IMMEDIATELY. Your bank will block payment on the check numbers involved. Also, review new deliveries of checks to make sure none have been stolen in transit.
- STORE NEW AND CANCELLED CHECKS IN A SAFE PLACE.
- CHECK ACCOUNT STATEMENTS CAREFULLY to ensure all charges, checks, or withdrawals were authorized.
- GUARD YOUR MAIL AGAINST THEFT. If you have the type of mailbox with a flag to signal the box contains mail, do not leave bill payment envelopes in your mailbox with the flag up. Instead, deposit them in a post office collection box or at the local post office. Promptly remove incoming mail. If you want to help manage your mail, you may register to use the DMAchoice Mail Preference Service.
- PERIODICALLY CONTACT THE MAJOR CREDIT REPORTING COMPANIES to review your file and make certain the information is correct. You can obtain a copy of your credit report at any time. In New Jersey, state law gives you one free credit report per year. The three major credit bureaus are Equifax (1-800-766-0008), Experian (1-888-397-3742), and TransUnion (1-800-680-7289).
Here are some measures to assist you if you have become a victim of Identity Theft:
CONTACT THE FRAUD DEPARTMENTS of one of the three major credit bureaus to report the identity theft and request that they place a fraud alert and a victim's statement in your file. The nation's three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — have set up a system that will enable identity fraud victims to protect their credit information by making one toll-free call to any of them. When an identity fraud victim calls any of the credit reporting companies, the company will alert the other two. Then, each company will post a security alert on the victim's credit file; opt the victim out of pre-approved credit or insurance offers; and mail the victim a copy of his or her credit file. The following are the telephone numbers for the fraud departments of the three national credit bureaus:
REVIEW YOUR REPORT to make sure no additional fraudulent accounts have been opened in your name, or unauthorized changes made to your existing accounts. Also, check the section of your report that lists "inquiries" and request that any inquiries from companies that opened the fraudulent accounts be removed.
CONTACT US OR OTHER CREDITORS where you have an account that may be the subject of identity theft. Advise them of the identity theft. Request that they restrict access to your account, change your password, or close your account if there is evidence it has been the target of criminal activity.
FILE A REPORT WITH YOUR LOCAL POLICE DEPARTMENT.
CONTACT THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION'S (FTC) Identity Theft Hotline toll-free at 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338). The FTC puts the information into a secure consumer fraud database and shares it with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.
Each one of the branch offices has an Identity Theft Kit to assist you; please stop in and see one of our branch associates. You may also download our Identity Theft Prevention & Resolution Packet.
When using your debit card in a store, you're usually asked whether you wish to use it as a debit or credit card. First Hope Bank recommends that you always respond "credit," for safety reasons.
Why is it more prudent to choose "credit"? For one, you won't need to enter your PIN (Personal Identification Number) with someone possibly looking over your shoulder. You'll simply be asked for your signature instead.
For another, there have been instances in which major retailers stored PINs, only to have them later stolen and used fraudulently.
For purposes of your transaction, it makes no difference whether you select "credit" or "debit." It can, however, make a big difference to your financial safety.
*For more ways to protect yourself from becoming a victim of fraud, click here.