Tips to Prevent Identity Theft
Identity theft crimes are on the rise across the nation. Your personal identifying information can be accessed in a variety of ways. Don’t become a victim of identity theft. Obtain a free copy of your credit report annually by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com.
- Watch for shoulder-surfers. When entering a PIN number or providing a credit card number in a public place, make certain no one is peering over your shoulder to make a note of the keys you're pressing.
- Require photo ID. Instead of signing the backs of your credit cards, write "Ask for Photo ID."
- Shred everything. One of the ways that would-be identity thieves acquire information is by sifting through trash. If you're throwing out bills and credit card statements, receipts, or even junk-mail solicitations for credit cards and mortgages, you may be leaving too much information lying around. Buy a personal shredder.
- Be diligent about checking statements. If you're consistent about checking your bank and credit statements each month, you'll be aware if one of them doesn't arrive ... that could mean someone stole it from your mailbox or while it was in transit. You can also verify that the charges are legitimate so that you can quickly identify any suspicious activity.
- Never leave your paid bills in your mailbox. A thief who raids your mailbox could acquire your name, address, credit account number, bank information, and even a copy of your signature from your check. Drop your bills at the post office or utilize our online bill payment service through online banking.
- Limit the information on your checks. It may be convenient to have your driver's license number or social security number imprinted on your personal checks, but if it falls into the wrong hands it reveals too much information.
- Look for internet sites that offer Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology (Bank of Botetourt does). You can tell if a site uses SSL by checking for a locked padlock in the top-right hand corner of your browser window. Also, when you log on to a secure site in the address bar you will see the "http" change to "https."
- Analyze your credit report annually. You can get a free look at your credit report once per year. The big three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) joined forces to provide free credit reports to consumers. Click here to get a copy of your free credit report: Annualcreditreport.com. Review it to make sure the information is accurate and there aren't any suspicious entries.
- Protect your Social Security number. Don't carry your Social Security card in your wallet. Also, never use your Social Security number as any part of a username or password and never, ever divulge it to telephone solicitors or in response to e-mails.
- Report all lost or stolen credit cards, checks or driver's licenses.