There are many different ways your personal information can be stolen or compromised, but preventing fraud and identity theft is possible. Use this information to help prevent identity theft for you and your family.
Prevent Identity Theft
For more information on identity theft and online fraud, visit these sites:
The Federal Trade Commission Visit them online
OnGuardOnline.gov Visit them online
Anti Phishing Work Group Visit them online
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the nation. It is a felony in Georgia to steal another person's identity, yet the crime happens every day. We're committed to raising consumer awareness about identity theft and the steps they can take to prevent it. We're all in this together.
Here are some ways identity thieves work. They:
- Steal your wallet or purse
- Intercept bills from your mailbox
- Change your mailing address without you knowing it
- Rummage through your trash
- Call you on the phone pretending to be a bank or other credit grantor
- Steal records from your employer
- Break into your home
- Find unsecured internet sites containing personal information
- Corrupt insiders to copy your information from secure files
When they steal your information, they can:
- Apply for a loan in your name
- Use their address as if it were yours to get billing statements
- Buy merchandise using your credit card
- Lease a car
- Get phone service and other utility services
Avoid Becoming A Victim
There are many simple steps you can take to protect yourself from becoming a victim of identity thieves:.
- Regularly check your bank and billing statements. If you see something you don't understand, call and inquire.
- Be careful not to carry personal information in your wallet or purse like your social security card, bank and credit card numbers with passwords and PINs.
- Leave your social security and driver's license numbers off your checks.
- Make sure your driver's license number is not the same as your social security number.
- Call your creditors if you have not received a bill you are expecting.
- Use the post office or postal boxes for outgoing mail.
- Shred or otherwise dispose of receipts and other paperwork that contains any personal identifying information.
- Regularly order a copy of your credit report to check for unusual items.
- Destroy pre-approved credit card applications if you are not going to take advantage of them.
- Never provide your personal information in response to an unsolicited call, fax, letter, email, or internet advertisement. If you did not initiate the communication, do not give out information, regardless of how genuine or official the message may appear to be. Report any such request to the appropriate institution.
- Do not respond to emails that may demand an immediate response and warn of dire consequences, such as account closure or suspension. Contact the company to confirm the validity of the email using the telephone number you know to be genuine.
- Avoid using a financial institution's web page from a link provided by a third party. It should only be accessed by typing the URL address into the web browser or by using a "book mark" that directs you to the financial institution's web site.
Web Site Security
You should always be aware of the level of security of any website you are visiting.
To view the level of security for The Heritage Bank website, view our Online Banking Security Statement.
How Can I Prevent The Fraud?
Georgia laws let you get a free copy of your credit report twice a year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. To order a copy of your credit report, contact:
Equifax, 800.525.6285, Visit them online at www.equifax.com
Experian, 888.397.3742,Visit them online at www.experian.com
Transunion, 800.680.7889,Visit them online at www.transunion.com
Don't Get Hooked By Internet "Phishing" Scams!
Internet phishing scams are one of the fastest-growing frauds today. Phishing (pronounced "fishing") typically involves a bogus email message that uses a company's website graphics and logos falsely. These fraudsters attempt to entice email recipients to provide personal financial details. Sometimes these details include credit card numbers, account usernames and passwords, or social security numbers. The fraudsters then use this information to steal your identity.
The Department of Justice advises e-mail users to "Stop, Look, and Call" if they receive a suspicious email:
- Stop: Resist the urge to immediately respond to a suspicious email and to provide the information requested despite urgent or exaggerated claims.
- Look: Read the text of the email several times and ask yourself why the information requested would really be needed. Phishing emails sometimes have poor grammar or misspellings.
- Call: Telephone the organization identified in the email, using a phone number you know to be legitimate.
For more information on phishing, go to www.antiphishing.org. Visit them online.
Help For Victims
The Federal Trade Commission reports that 9.9 million people were victims of identity thieves. If you suspect you've become a victim, take charge and take action. The longer you avoid the problem, the worse it will become. If you are a victim, take these steps:
- Step 1: Contact each of the credit reporting agencies to request a fraud alert be placed in your credit file:
Equifax, PO Box 740250, Atlanta, GA, 30374-0250, 800.525.6285,Visit them online at www.equifax.com
Experian, PO Box 75013, Allen, TX 75013, 888.397.3742,Visit them online at www.experian.com
Transunion, PO Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92634, 800.680.7289, Visit them online at www.transunion.com
- Step 2: Contact your local law enforcement agency and make a report. Be sure to record the report number.
- Step 3: Notify The Heritage Bank and other credit grantors.
- Step 4: Contact Government Agencies:
The Federal Trade Commission (the national clearinghouse for identity theft information): 877.488.4338, Visit them online at www.ftc.gov/idtheft.
Governor's Office of Consumer Protection: 404.651.8600 or 800.869.1123, Visit them online at www.consumer.georgia.gov
Call on your local banker to help you through the maze of steps you must take to restore your good name. Remember, we're all in this together.
Fraud and Identity Theft Protection