Helpful Tips for Preventing Identity Theft
- Do not provide your Social Security number unless absolutely necessary. If a business asks for your Social Security number, ask them the following questions:
- Why do you need it?
- How will it be used?
- If I don't want to give you my Social Security number, is there an alternative we can use?
- Be cautious of your surroundings when giving your Social Security number. Be aware of who is listening when you give personal information over the phone, whether at work or in public.
- Do not use your full or partial Social Security number as a PIN or password.
- Do not send your Social Security number over the Internet (for example, in an email) unless you know that the connection is secure and that the recipient will protect it, and even then only send it when necessary (tax forms, account opening, etc.).
- Be cautious and ensure you have the correct number before faxing any forms containing your Social Security number.
- Do not record your Social Security number or driver’s license number on personal checks or other negotiable instruments.
If you check your credit report regularly, you may be able to spot identity theft and limit any harm. Credit reports contain information about you, including what accounts you have and how you pay your bills. If an identity thief is opening credit accounts in your name, fraudulent accounts are likely to show up. Look for inquiries from companies you haven't contacted, accounts you didn't open, and debts on your accounts that you can't explain. Check that information like your Social Security number, address, name or initials, and employers are correct.
The law requires each of the major nationwide consumer reporting agencies to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months.
To order a free annual report from one or all the national consumer reporting companies:
- Visit www.annualcreditreport.com
- Call toll-free (877) 322-8228
- Or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form from ftc.gov/credit and mail it to:
Annual Credit Report Request ServiceTo get your free copy, do not contact the consumer reporting companies directly; they only provide free annual credit reports through:
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
- (877) 322-8228
- Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
If you want to buy a copy of your report, you can contact the companies directly:
- (888) 397-3742
- (800) 888-4213
- (866) 349-5191
- Minimize the amount of personal information a criminal can steal. Don’t carry extra credit cards, your Social Security card, birth certificate or passport. Leave your Social Security card and unused credits cards in a safe and secure location.
- Do not leave financial statements or other documents with your personal information lying around where others can view them. A significant portion of all identity fraud is committed by relatives, friends, employees and other individuals with access to your home or business.
- If your bank or credit card account statement does not arrive as expected, contact your financial institution immediately. A missing statement could mean an identity thief has taken over your account and changed your billing address to cover their tracks. If your account(s) is with Huntington, contact us at (800) 480-2265, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Be sure to shred all sensitive personal information as many identity thieves have obtained the information they needed by going through the victim’s trash. Information to shred includes:
- Credit card and ATM receipts
- Copies of credit applications
- Insurance forms
- Medical statements and bills
- Checks and bank statements
- Expired charge cards
- Credit offers you get in the mail.
- Promptly retrieve incoming mail and consider taking outgoing mail containing personal information to your local post office or placing it in a U.S. Postal Service mailbox to reduce the chance of mail theft. And if you're going to be traveling, you can put a vacation hold on your mail by calling the U.S. Postal Service at (800) 275-8777 or visiting www.usps.gov. Also, consider paperless options for your bills and financial statements to cut down on paper mail.
- Keep a list of all your credit cards, loans, account numbers and expiration dates in a safe place so you can notify creditors in case of theft or loss.
- Never provide personal information to anyone over the phone unless you initiate the call and you know the company is reputable. Scammers use a variety of methods to trick you into giving them sensitive information. They may call, send emails and text messages, or use website pop-ups that ask you to call a phone number to update your account, receive a credit card, or a prize. When you call, they ask you for personal data, such as your Social Security number, credit card number or expiration date, or mother's maiden name.
- If you receive a call you did not initiate requesting personal information ask them to send you a written request. If they refuse or you are not comfortable with the phone call, tell them you're not interested and hang up. If you wish to contact the company directly, go to your financial statements, debit or credit card, or the company website to get a legitimate contact number.
If your identity has been stolen or your bank accounts compromised, it’s important to act quickly.
- Call all of your banks and financial institutions immediately, especially if a credit/debit card or checks have been lost or stolen. If your account(s) is with Huntington, contact us at (800) 480-2265, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Contact the fraud departments of the three major credit reporting agencies. Ask them to place a fraud alert on your file. This alert tells creditors to call you before they open any new accounts in your name.
- File a report with local police or law enforcement agency. Even if they don’t catch the thief, filing a report can help you clear up your credit records later.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at 1-877-IDTHEFT (877-438-4338) or at www.identitytheft.gov.
- Monitor your accounts and credit reports regularly and report any suspicious activity immediately.
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