Identity theft and account fraud are making big headlines. They happen when someone steals personal information such as your bank account number or Social Security number and then poses as you, either cleaning out your account or running up debt in your name or both. The threat is real, and 400,000 people are victimized by these crimes each year.
Ten Tips to Prevent Identity Theft
Pinnacle Bank works hard every day to ward off these threats, but maximum security is possible only with your help. Here's what you can do to stop these crimes before they happen - and protect your assets and good name:
- Don't give out financial information such as checking and credit card numbers - and especially your Social Security number - on the phone or over the internet unless you initiated the contact and know the person or organization you are dealing with. Don't give that information to any stranger or internet e-mail inquiry, even claiming to be from your bank.
- Report lost or stolen checks immediately. Pinnacle Bank will block payment on the numbers involved. Also, review new deliveries of checks to make sure none has been stolen in transit.
- Store canceled checks - and new checks - in a safe place.
- Notify Pinnacle Bank of suspicious phone or e-mail inquires such as those asking for account information to "verify a statement" or "award a prize."
- Guard your ATM Personal Identification Number and ATM receipts. Thieves can use them to access your account.
- Don't throw away financial solicitations that arrive in your mailbox. Shred and/or tear them up so thieves can't use them to assume your identity. Shred and/or tear up any other financial documents such as bank statements, old checks or invoices before disposing of them.
- Don't put outgoing mail in or on your mailbox. Drop it into a secure, official Postal Service collection box. Thieves may use your mail to steal your identity.
- If regular bills fail to reach you, call the company to find out why. Someone may have filed a false change-of-address notice to divert your information to his or her address.
- If your bills include suspicious items, don't ignore them. Instead, investigate immediately to head off any possible fraud before it occurs.
- Periodically contact the major credit reporting companies to review your file and make certain the information is correct. For a small fee, you can obtain a copy of your credit report at any time.
The three major credit bureaus are:
- Equifax 800-685-1111
- Experian 888-397-3742
- TransUnion 866-887-2673