What is Identity Theft?
Identity Theft is the unlawful use of another person’s identification. Identity theft may take many forms. Common forms are:
- Credit Card
- Other financial institution fraud
- Phone or utility service theft
- The taking of government documents or benefits
However, thieves are finding new ways of using the identity of their victim’s everyday. The tragic events of September 11th have helped financial institutions and federal regulators learn more about the ways in which terrorists and organizations finance their activities. Some of their methods included opening accounts and moving funds using false identities or stolen information about real account holders. One way in which you may help stop these activities and make our financial institutions safer is to protect your account information from thieves and unauthorized users.
How does identity theft occur?
Surprising to most people is that identity theft is actually a very easy crime to commit. In fact, over 1,400 people are victimized each day. That being the case, it is important for you to know how these
thieves operate so you can protect your personal information.
At the heart of the crime is the thief obtaining information that most people would assume only the true owner of the information would know.
Common examples are:
- Social Security numbers
- Driver’s license numbers
- Financial institution account numbers
- Mother’s maiden names
Thieves obtain this information in numerous ways. Some thieves will steal wallets, purses, and even mail. Others will listen and/or watch a person conduct personal business, such as talking on the phone or getting cash from an automated teller machine (ATM). Thieves will also deceive or trick people into disclosing personal information through phone scams, via the mail, or on the Internet.
Very aggressive thieves will even obtain personal information by using a process referred to as “pretext calling.” Pretext calling occurs when an individual contacts an entity in possession of a customer’s personal information and cons the entity into releasing the information by acting as the customer or someone authorized to have the customer’s information.
Once a thief has possession of the information, the thief will apply for credit cards, loans, phone services, or just about any other service where economic gain can be realized without actual payment.
When applying for credit cards, loans, or other services, thieves will often intentionally use incorrect addresses or complete change of address forms on existing accounts so that the victim will not be immediately aware of the crime.
How does identity theft affect me?
Identity theft can cause its victims numerous problems. Most significantly, it can destroy the financial history you have worked so hard to obtain. Repairing your credit history can require significant time and money. You may not be able to stop a thief until thousands of dollars of debt have been attributed to you.
How can I protect myself from identity theft?
The following are just some of the ways you can reduce the risk of Identity Theft:
- Never release any personal information to anyone over the phone unless you have initiated the call.
- Make sure you do business with reputable companies, especially internet based.
- Keep your credit cards, debit cards, personal identification numbers (PINs) and other passwords, checks, social security cards, other cards or documents which bare your social security number, health insurance cards, driver’s license number and other personal information where it will be safe. When disposing of theses items, do so by shredding.
- Keep your deposit and withdrawal slips, credit card purchase receipts, financial institution statements, credit card statements, utility bills, medical bills, insurance information, investment updates, and
credit card solicitations where they will be safe. When disposing of them, do so by shredding.
- Don’t put your trash out until shortly before it will be picked up.
- Mail bill payments and other items that contain personal information at a U.S. Postal Service drop box rather than in your curb side mailbox. Don’t put any mail in your curb side mailbox until shortly before it
will be picked up.
- Take your mail out of your curb side mailbox as soon as possible after it has been delivered. If you are
traveling, have the U.S. Postal Service hold your mail or have someone you trust pick it up daily.
- Do not open e-mails from unknown sources.
- Use virus protection software.
- Never respond to an e-mail requesting personal information. Please note: It is not Texas National Bank’s procedure to ask for your password or any other personal information via e-mail.
- Be cautious of hypertext links that bring you to web sites that may appear to be legitimate.
What should I do if my Identity has been stolen?
In the event that you suspect your identity has been stolen or you are, in fact, certain that it has been stolen follow these simple steps. Report Identity Fraud & Identity Theft
What are the common types of Fraud and Scams?
These are some of the more common.
Phishing: (pronounced Fishing) is a new type of Internet piracy that allows thieves to “fish” for your financial information. This high-tech scam uses websites, e-mail spam, and pop-up messages to attempt to deceive you into providing your personal information such as credit card numbers, passwords and account information.
A Phishing scam begins when and Identity thief sends out fraudulent e-mail messages that appear to come from popular web sites or from sites that you trust (like your bank or credit card company). These e-mail messages and websites look official and deceive many people into believing that they are legitimate. Unsuspecting people often open, read, and respond to the e-mail’s requests for their credit card numbers, passwords, account information, or other personal information. In turn, these scam artists use your information to purchase goods, apply for new credit cards, and ultimately steal your identity.
Spoofing: Is when a fake website is made to look like an authentic bank or business website. Criminals hope that an unsuspecting person may incorrectly type in the actual website in their web browser and try to log in the actual website in their web browser and try to log in their accounts, thus giving the criminals their personal ID and password.
Advance Fee Scam: Commonly known as the Nigerian Money Transfer Fraud or 419 Scam. This scam has been around since the early 80’s but is variant of a scam that dates back to 1588. What used to be done by mail or faxes is now done by e-mail.
How it works is the criminals will send you an e-mail claiming to be Nigerian Officials or business people offering to transfer millions of dollars into your account in exchange for a small fee. If you respond they will send you official looking documents asking for your bank account number and a small fee to cover the transaction.
Lottery Winner: Like the Advance Fee Scam, criminals will state that you have won the Canadian Lottery, or various trips or prizes and all you have to do is send them a small handling fee to collect the prizes. This scam maybe done via e-mail, fax, mail or phone. A good rule of thumb is if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Fraudulent E-Mails Claiming to Be From the FDIC:
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has issued a special alert due to fraudulent e-mails that appear to be sent from the FDIC or VeriSign, Inc., and are asking recipients to run a “security guard script” to secure Web Sites. These fraudulent e-mails state phrases such as “Regular Security Maintenance” or “Regular Hosting Security Maintenance” and were not sent by the FDIC or VeriSign, Inc. These are malicious attempts to gather personal and confidential information from financial institutions and consumers.
Fraudulent e-mails should be reported to the FDIC’s Cyber-Fraud and Financial Crimes Section at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fictitious FDIC E-mail Alert:
The FDIC has sent an alert regarding e-mails sent to individuals titled “important news About Your Bank.” In this e-mail it reads similar to, “As a result of Department of Homeland Security, Director Tom Ridge, (or possibly another Federal, State or Local Government) has advised the FDIC to suspend all deposit insurance on your account until such time as we can verify your identity and your account information due to suspected violations of the PATRIOT Act by the bank. Please verify your information below…”
Consumers should not access the link contained in the e-mail and should not provide any personal information to the e-mail’s sender. This alert can be found on the OCC website www.occ.treas.gov by clicking on Issuances and then on 2004 Alerts.
Anti-Terrorist Mail Fraud Alert:
The Treasury Department has issued a warning that a copy of an Anti-terrorist letter may be sent to customers stating that to wire money overseas from their account, the customer has to pay a fee of $25,000 (or other amount) to be issued an ANTI-TERRORIST CERTIFICATE. The funds being charged are said to be used to fight terrorist money laundering all over the world. They may request account numbers and other personal information which they will in turn use for identity fraud situations.
Credit Card Theft Alert:
Various e-mail schemes are circulating informing the individual that “their credit card is being used by another person.” It goes on to say that in order to avoid
and prevent further use and to receive refunds for the fraudulent transactions, a “secure form” should be completed and e-mailed to someone like “Visa Services.” Please beware, the websites look very authentic with credit card logos, etc. Note: it is not the practice of a legitimate Credit Card company to e-mail alerts or correspond in this manner.
Identity Theft Resources Center www.idtheftcenter.org
Privacy Rights Clearing House www.privacyrights.org
The National Fraud Information Center www.fraud.org
For helpful tips to safeguard your personal information click on security tips link. Security Tips