According to the Federal Trade Commission, identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the United States, affecting nine million Americans each year.
Identity theft could result in the following events: irregular charges on your account, money missing from your account, fraudulent or suspicious charges or account openings, or erroneous medical or wage records. No matter how it happens, take action to protect your identity and your personal information.
Tips for Avoiding Identity Theft
- Carry only necessary information with you. Leave your Social Security card and unused credit cards at home in a safe and secure location.
- Make photocopies of vital information you carry regularly and store them in a secure place, such as a safe deposit box.
- Only provide your Social Security number when absolutely necessary.
- Replace paper invoices, statements and checks with electronic versions, if offered by your employer, bank, utility provider or merchant.
- Sign up for Sound’s free Online Banking and reduce paper statements by signing up for Bill Pay and eStatements.
- Place outgoing mail in a US Postal Service mailbox and promptly retrieve incoming mail to reduce the chance of mail theft.
- Know your billing and statement cycles. Contact the company’s customer service department if you stop receiving your regular bill or statement.
- Shred documents containing personal or financial information before discarding. Most fraud and identity theft incidents happen as a result of mail and garbage theft.
- Review your credit report at least once a year, looking for suspicious or unknown transactions. You can get a free credit report once a year from each of the three major credit bureaus at www.annualcreditreport.com. For a small fee, you can obtain a copy at any time directly from:
If You Suspect You’re a Victim of Identity Theft
If you suspect you have become a victim of identity theft, here are a few steps that can help to recover and restore your good credit.
- Contact Sound Credit Union immediately at 800.562.8130 to flag or change your account numbers.
- Contact the three major credit bureaus (listed above) to put a fraud alert on your file. Ask them to notify you if any new accounts are opened.
- File a report with the local police and keep a copy as proof of the crime.
- File a complaint with the FTC toll-free at 877.IDTHEFT (877.438.4338). The FTC enters your case into a database that law enforcement agencies use for investigation.
Identity Theft Monitoring and Recovery
Recovering your identity can take a significant amount of time. Studies show victims spend an average of 49 hours on identity theft recovery, often giving up without ever restoring their identity to pre-theft status.
Sound offers Fraud-Defender, a fully managed identity theft monitoring and recovery program, to give you piece of mind and help take the guess work out of ID theft recovery.