The strongest line of defense against identity theft is yourself.
How to Protect Yourself
- Never provide your personal information in response to an unsolicited request, whether it is over the phone or over the Internet. E-mails and websites created by phishers may look exactly like the real thing. They may even have a fake padlock icon that ordinarily is used to denote a secure site. If you did not initiate the communication, you should not provide any information.
- If you believe the contact may be legitimate, contact the financial institution yourself. Phone numbers and websites can be found directly on the monthly statements you receive from your financial institution, phone books or on the Internet. The key is that you should always be the one to initiate the contact, using contact information that you have verified yourself.
- Never provide your password over the phone or in response to an unsolicited Internet request. A financial institution would never ask you to verify your account information online. Thieves armed with this information and your account number can help themselves to your savings.
- Review account statements regularly to ensure all charges are correct. If your account statement is late in arriving, call your financial institution to find out why. If your financial institution offers online banking, you should periodically review your account activity online to catch any suspicious activity.
What To Do If You Fall Victim
Contact your financial institution immediately and alert them of the situation.
If you have disclosed sensitive information in a phishing attack, you should also contact one of the three major credit bureaus and discuss whether or not you need to place a fraud alert on your file, which will help prevent thieves from opening a new account in your name.
Contact information for the fraud division at each of the major credit bureau's can be found below:
1-888-766-0008 | P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374
1-888-397-3742 | P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
1-800-680-7289 | P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834
Never provide personal financial information, including your Social Security number, account numbers or passwords, over the phone or the Internet if you did not initiate the contact.
Never click on a link provided in an e-mail you believe is fraudulent. It may contain a virus that can contaminate your computer.
Do not be intimidated by an e-mail or caller who suggests dire consequences if you do not immediately provide or verify financial information. If you believe the contact is legitimate, visit the company's website by typing in the site address directly or using a page you have previously bookmarked, instead of a link provided in the e-mail.
Always be vigilant. For more information on phishing, visit the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., or Anti-Phishing Working Group.
If you fall victim to an attack, act immediately to protect yourself. Alert your financial institution. Place fraud alerts on your credit files. Monitor your credit files and account statements closely.
Report suspicious e-mails or calls to the Federal Trade Commission's Identity Theft Website, or by calling 1-877-IDTHEFT.
*If you think you have received a phishing e-mail from a sender purporting to be First Hope Bank, please contact us at (908) 459-4121, (908) 813-3119 or (973) 729-8333, or email us as soon as possible. Confidential information should not be sent via email.