What is Identity Theft?
Identity Theft is a federal crime in which an impostor obtains personal information such as Social Security numbers and driver's license numbers and uses them for their own personal gain.
Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the United States, affecting millions of Americans annually. It can happen to anyone; regardless of how careful you are, regardless of your age and income, and regardless of where you live.
How Can Identity Theft Affect Me?
Victims of identity theft can experience problems with their credit, their finances, their employment, and even their personal assets. Plus, obtaining professional help to get your affairs back in order can be time-consuming, stressful, and expensive. Identity thieves might:
- drain your bank account.
- make purchases with your credit cards.
- open new accounts (bank, cell phone, utility, credit card, etc.) in your name.
- get identity and government documents issued with your name and their photos.
- receive medical care under your insurance.
- take out loans in your name.
- create a false criminal record for you by using your identity information when investigated or arrested by the police.
Another growing problem is tax-related identity theft. Using your Social Security number, an identity thief might:
- file a false tax return and collect a refund.
- get a job and have earnings reported as your income.
How to Prevent Identity Theft
The following tips outline how you can prevent identity theft from taking over your life:
- Take a proactive approach in managing your personal information.
- Shred, destroy and/or delete physical and electronic confidential information.
- Avoid using easily available information (like birth dates of family members or your mother’s maiden name) for passwords.
- Secure confidential data in your home and at work.
- Ask about information security procedures in your workplace, medical (hospital, doctor, and dentist) offices, businesses (utility/phone companies), or associations that you are a member of.
- Do not give out personal information (through the internet, phone or mail) unless you have initiated the contact and/or know the individual/business that you are dealing with.
- Do not carry your social security card with you.
- Keep your purse or wallet in a safe place at home and work.
- Update your virus protection software and firewall regularly.
- If your purse or wallet is lost or stolen, act quickly and close accounts and contact any of the three credit reporting agencies.
- If you become a victim, place a fraud alert with the credit reporting agencies and review your credit reports.
Signs of Identity Theft
- You notice errors or unfamiliar transactions on your bank and/or credit card accounts
- Your credit report includes unfamiliar accounts or charges.
- Your credit report contains inquiries made by businesses in response to applications for credit, loans, or services you didn’t initiate.
- You receive collection notices or calls about a debt that isn’t yours.
- You have a good credit rating but are denied credit in response to an application.
- Your checks are refused by merchants.
- Bills, statements, or other expected mail or email don’t arrive.
- You get bills for accounts you didn’t open or medical services you didn’t receive.
- Your health insurance responds to your legitimate medical claim with a notice that your benefits limit was reached.
- Your medical records report a condition you don’t have.
- You are notified by the IRS that you have income from an employer unknown to you or that more than one tax return was filed with your Social Security number.
- You are notified of a data breach at a company that involves your information.
What if I’m a Victim? TCB is Here to Help.
The Tri-County Bank has partnered with one of the nation’s most trusted names in Identity Theft Protection to bring you the most comprehensive Identity Theft Recovery Services available today.
What Do Recovery Services Include?
You are covered regardless of the type of identity fraud that has been perpetrated against you including but not limited to medical, financial, and criminal, as well as acts of terrorism.
Fully managed recovery provides you with peace of mind knowing that if you ever fall victim to Identity Theft, you will have access to a dedicated certified Recovery Advocate. Your advocate will work on your behalf to perform all of the tasks necessary to restore your identity, through the use of a limited power of attorney. This work includes completing and filing forms, performing research and contacting all companies, agencies and financial institutions necessary, to ensure that any and all fraudulent activity that has been identified is addressed and resolved.
For more information, contact your local branch representative today.