Identity Theft FAQs
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is when someone obtains your personal information, such as name, date of birth, social security number or mother's maiden name to commit fraud or other crimes. Fraud is committed when criminals use your personal information to access bank accounts, obtain loans, make purchases, rent an apartment, or even get a job. While it is not a new concept, identity theft is gaining notoriety as the high-tech crime of choice. The Federal Bureau of Investigation states it is "the fastest growing white-collar crime in America" today.
How Is Identity Theft Committed?
Skilled identity thieves may use a variety of methods to gain access to your information, including:
- DUMPSTER DIVING: rummaging through trash looking for bills or other paper with your personal information on it.
- SKIMMING: stealing credit/debit card numbers by using a special storage device when processing your card.
- PHISHING: pretending to be financial institution or company and sending spam or pop-up messages to get you to reveal your personal information online.
- CHANGING YOUR ADDRESS: diverting your billing statements to another location by completing a change of address form in your name.
- OLD-FASHIONED THEFT: stealing wallets and purses, mail, (including bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers) and new checks or tax information. They steal personnel records, or bribe employees who have access.
- PRETEXTING: using false pretenses to obtain your personal information from you through a phone call, for example by taking a survey or selling you a product or service.
How Do I Protect Myself?
Taking the proper precautions with your information is the best protection. All of us at Mountain West Bank are concerned about your personal information security. We take the preservation of your identity seriously and are suggesting the following easy steps for you to take to make your personal identity even more secure:
- Do not carry your social security card with you. If your purse or wallet is stolen, a thief has easy access to your social security number and signature. Keep your card in your safe deposit box.
- Do not have your social security number or phone number preprinted on your checks. Anyone who sees a check will have easy access to that information. If you have either or both of these on your checks, please contact a customer service or new accounts representative and we will gladly have your Mountain West Bank checks re-printed, free of charge, without your social security number or phone number being displayed.
- Do not ever give out any of your account numbers (bank account numbers, credit card numbers, etc.) or social security number to anyone unknown to you. If someone requests that information, you should immediately be suspicious.
- Know that a representative of Mountain West Bank, or any other reputable organization, will never call your home or office and request your account numbers or other identifying information. If someone asks you for such information, chances are it is a scam.
- Change your personal identification numbers (PIN) often and avoid using easily available numbers.
- Shred documents you are throwing away that have any identifying information on them. Dumpster divers can retrieve a world of information about you from your garbage. Personal shredders for your home are affordable.
- Pay attention to your statements cycles. If you are not getting your bank or credit card statements—someone else may be getting them!
- Consider a secured mailbox or receiving and paying bills online instead of by mail . The less personal information in your mailbox, the better. Mountain West Bank offers free online bill pay service with our deposit accounts.
- Check your credit report often. You can request free reports annually from each of the three major credit-reporting agencies. Visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1-877-322-8228 to order your free report. You can also request the reports to be mailed to you by writing to: Annual Credit Report Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
- Report unusual, unauthorized, or suspicious activity immediately to the credit reporting agencies.
Where can I find more information?
Visit our Identity Theft page provided by Mountain West Bank for more information, including what to do if you identity has been stolen, placing and lifting security freezes, credit bureaus, links to helpful sources, and more.
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