6 Things to Do if Your Identity is Stolen

Smartphone in hand, concept of data protection, blue

The best line of defense against identity theft is prevention, but when that fails you need to handle the situation correctly and swiftly. If you notice any mysterious purchases or your bank contacts you about confirming charges, your account may be compromised. If you believe that someone has stolen your identity, minimize the damage by following these steps.

1. Identify and close the account in question

The most common (and sometimes the only) way to discover compromised accounts is noticing fraudulent charges after they’ve posted. When you become aware of the situation, contact your financial institution as soon as possible, dispute the charges, and ask to either lock or close your account.

2. Look for other unauthorized charges

Next, you need to pull up your other accounts and scan old statements for additional charges you don’t recognize. If you find any questionable charges, call your financial institution and alert them of the problem. You may have to put a lock on a number of your accounts if your identity has in fact been stolen.

3. Review your credit report

When assessing whether you’re a victim of credit card fraud or identity theft, your last stop should be your credit report. By law, you’re entitled to at least one free credit report from each credit reporting agency every year. Request your reports and look for any account that you don’t recognize.

4. File a report with the FTC

After you have a pretty good handle on the extent of your problem, you need to file a report with the Federal Trade Commission. You only need to do this if you think that your identity has been stolen. The FTC doesn’t handle credit card fraud, so if only one account was touched you probably aren’t a victim of identity theft and don’t need to submit a report.

5. Set up a fraud alert

A fraud alert puts a red flag on your credit report and notifies both lenders and creditors that they should take extra steps to verify your identity before extending credit. All you have to do is call one of the three credit reporting agencies to place a 90-day alert on your reports. Don’t worry about any potential stigma that could come with this, it is a rather common practice nowadays.

6. Open new accounts and move forward

Most financial institutions advise opening up new accounts following identity theft, even those that might not have been compromised. After all is done, make sure that you implement preventative measures going forward. There are plenty of ways to make yourself a less likely target and they all take less work than recovering from being a victim.

Don’t wait until it’s too late! Be sure to enroll in First Financial’s Identity Theft Protection Program from Sherpa today. The best part? You can enroll right online, 24/7. You can trust in First Financial and Sherpa to help keep your personal information protected. Packages begin at just $5.99 per month – so click here to enroll today!

Article Source: Tyler Atwell for CUInsight.com

 

5 Things You Should Never Keep in Your Wallet

walletMore than 40% of identity fraud cases stem from a lost or stolen wallet or purse, according to insurance company Travelers’ claim data. If you’re carrying around these things in your wallet, you’re likely putting your identity and finances at risk.

1. Social Security Card

The #1 thing you should never carry in your wallet is your Social Security card.

“Your Social Security Number is the most vital piece of information for identity thieves, and the damage resulting from identity theft can impact your finances for years to come,” said Michael Bruemmer, vice president of consumer protection at credit reporting company, Experian.

If someone gets your number, he or she can use it to apply for credit in your name, file a tax return and claim a refund, or get a job and earn income that’s reported to the IRS — which will create problems for you at tax time, according to the Social Security Administration. For these reasons, losing a Social Security card can be devastating. While you can get a new Social Security Number, you must have evidence that someone is using your current one. However, some government agencies and businesses might still associate you with the old number — even after you make the switch.

2. Birth Certificate or Passport

When you go out, it’s best to leave your birth certificate and passport at home.

“Like your Social Security Number, these items contain some vital, personally identifiable information, and losing these will make it all too easy for thieves to steal your identity,” Bruemmer said.

Unfortunately, more than half of travelers surveyed by Experian said they carry their passports in their wallets. If you’re traveling overseas, opt to leave your passport locked in the hotel safe rather than keeping it with you while you’re out on the town.

3. Extra Credit Cards

A survey by Experian’s ProtectMyID identity service found that 47% of consumers don’t remove unnecessary credit cards from their wallets before traveling. Carrying numerous cards doesn’t just put you at risk on vacation, though. It’s also a dangerous habit.

“If your wallet is stolen and you have eight credit cards in it, that means you will have to cancel eight credit cards, dispute with eight different card companies if fraud does occur, as well as reset any autopay you had for those eight cards,” Bruemmer said. “The more cards you carry, the more opportunities you are giving a thief to steal your money or information, and the more work you are putting on yourself to reestablish accounts after a theft.”

It is recommended that you only carry your main credit card and perhaps a backup one. Only carry retailer cards in your wallet when you are headed to those specific stores. And make sure you have a record of your credit card account numbers and contact information for each card issuer stored at home, in case a card is stolen.

4. PINs and Passwords

Some people write down their debit card PIN and passwords for accounts in case they forget them and carry them in their wallets. However, this information should always be left at home in a secure place.

“If someone has access to your bank PIN or financial account passwords, they can easily steal money from your accounts or make purchases under your name,” Bruemmer said.

5. Checks

If you prefer writing checks to using a debit card, avoid carrying your entire checkbook around with you. Otherwise, thieves have easy access to your money in the event that your purse or wallet is stolen.

Checking account fraud can be especially difficult to resolve, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. You should report your stolen checkbook to the police and keep a copy of the report to submit to any merchants or financial institutions at which your stolen checks were used.

Unfortunately, putting a stop payment on the checks that were stolen probably won’t be enough to fix the problem. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, you’ll likely need to close your account to prevent further damage.

Don’t wait until it’s too late! Be sure to enroll in our Identity Theft Protection Program from Sherpa today. The best part? You can enroll right online, 24/7. You can trust in First Financial and Sherpa to help keep your personal information protected. Packages begin at just $5.99 per month – so click here to enroll today!

Article Source: Cameron Huddleston for Go Banking Rates, https://www.gobankingrates.com/personal-finance/things-never-keep-wallet/

4 Ways to Avoid Cybercrime When Banking and Shopping on Your Smartphone or Tablet

business man hand use mobile phone streaming virtual business network process diagram

The nature of identity fraud is changing. With the rollout of smart chips in credit and debit cards making it more difficult to steal using cards themselves, thieves have their eyes on your data instead.

If you don’t protect yourself, you could join the millions of Americans who reported they got hit by identity thieves.

While mobile banking and payments are certainly making it easier and more convenient to handle one’s finances and conduct business, the same ease and convenience make them a ripe target for criminals, says Madeline Aufseeser, CEO of fraud prevention company Tender Armor.

“Because merchants are trying to make it easier for consumers to shop online and on their phones, all your credentials are stored online, including payment information, and you don’t even need a basket — just click a button and boom, you get charged. Because they have gone down this path of making things easier to purchase online, it makes it easier for the fraudsters to get to the data,” said Aufseeser.

Consumers are turning to their phones more often to manage their finances, from depositing funds to paying bills to splitting dinner and a movie among friends. Mobile payment apps are growing in popularity, particularly among Millennials.  A survey by FICO found that 32% of consumers 18 to 34 had used some kind of mobile payment app, and 23% had used a peer-to-peer lending app.  According to consulting firm Accenture, 94% of consumers under 35 access their banking services through the Web and mobile apps.

Don’t be a victim!  Here are 4 ways to protect yourself and your finances:

Safety tip # 1: Update that OS

People who are not careful about how they use their mobile payment apps, where they use them and how they manage their mobile devices, are putting themselves at risk. For starters, avid users of mobile payment services should always keep their mobile operating system, or OS, up to date. Ignoring updates for Android or iOS means ignoring free security patches for vulnerabilities hackers already know how to exploit.

Safety tip # 2: Update that app

The same goes for the apps themselves — keeping a payment app completely up to date means keeping its security protocols as strong as they can be. Some apps introduce new security features, like biometric sign-in capabilities. Aufseeser stresses the importance of two-factor authentication for passwords and personal information to double down on account protection.

Safety tip # 3: Beware of Wi-Fi

Accessing a mobile banking app or a payment app while on public Wi-Fi also makes it easier for criminals to “eavesdrop” on the information one’s phone is sending and accessing, exposing usernames, passwords and any stored information on the phone — including saved credit or debit card info from payment apps. Consumers with data to spare should limit their use of public Wi-Fi hotspots when accessing sensitive information, checking a bank statement, sending a payment, etc. Keep in mind, fraudsters and hackers can eavesdrop on any information sent over public Wi-Fi, so mind your browsing and emailing in public spaces.

Safety tip #4: Watch out for person-to-person payments

Besides guarding yourself from hackers, you have to be on guard about the people you do business with as well. The wild west of mobile payments has tangible, real-world fraud risks associated with it. The incredibly popular person-to-person payment app Venmo, has exposed some of the weaknesses in the mobile payment ecosystem.

While users expect their payments to be safe and instantaneous, the reality is more complicated. Payments take time to process, which leaves a period of time during which scam artists can abuse a clause in Venmo’s user agreement that prohibits “business, commercial, or merchant transactions.” The buyer cancels their payment and the seller cannot get the money back because, technically, they broke Venmo’s rules. In short: If you sell something to someone and they take back their payment, you’re out of luck.

This phenomenon is not unique to Venmo — various frauds and scams have plagued person-to-person payment sites and apps since the dawn of the Internet. Fraudsters populate websites like Craigslist and Ebay and use PayPal scams to rip off unsuspecting users, like having a seller send their item to a different address than is listed on the buyer’s PayPal account, effectively voiding any protections from PayPal and allowing the scammer to recall their payment and keep the item. However, as the Consumer Federation of America noted, there is no federal law that provides payment dispute rights.

Without laws in place, it falls to the company that owns the payment platform to resolve disputes — and when it comes to cybercriminals and fraudsters, they are pretty good at covering their tracks and leaving their victims high and dry. The moral of the story is – be mindful when sending payments with your mobile phone or tablet.

Don’t wait until it’s too late! Be sure to enroll in our Identity Theft Protection Program from Sherpa today. The best part? You can enroll right online, 24/7. You can trust in First Financial and Sherpa to help keep your personal information protected. Packages begin at just $5.99 per month – so click here to enroll today!

Article Source: 

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2016/04/20/security-identity-theft-cybercrime-banking-shopping-mobile-phones/82466908/ by Benjamin Mitchell

What’s the Most Dangerous Kind of Identity Theft?

6a0154366bdf49970c017d4230dc0a970c-800wiLike the thieves behind the crime, identity theft can take on many disguises depending on the information stolen. When identity theft goes undetected, these crimes can not only cost victims their money, but also their health and well-being.

It’s nearly impossible to avoid identity theft, but awareness and vigilance are key to fixing the problem if you do get hit. As each kind of identity theft could be more deadly than the next, here are three particularly dangerous types of identity theft.

Child ID Theft

  • What makes it dangerous: Thieves often go after children’s identities through stealing data from schools or even taking their relatives’ information. Children will likely not know they were victims until they grow older and are denied for their first loan, credit card or even housing – because of a poor credit history. This blemished credit report could cause them to be denied new lines of credit, which could stunt their financial wealth.
  • How to avoid this identity theft: Check your child’s credit by requesting a free credit report (you can get your own credit reports for free once a year) and dispute and close any unauthorized accounts that were opened.

Medical ID Theft

  • ​​What makes it dangerous: Although consumers may think their medical information is not a target for cybercriminals, healthcare companies are becoming increasingly targeted. Data breaches in the healthcare sector could result in your information falling into the hands of thieves who could then use this data to take advantage of medical services. A report by the Ponemon Institute found medical identity theft has risen 22%, resulting in patients’ health information potentially being mixed up with thieves’, which could lead to potentially deadly medical mistakes.
  • How to avoid this identity theft: Always read the data privacy statement your healthcare provider gives you before agreeing to the terms and monitor your accounts in case of fraud.

Tax ID Theft

  • What makes it dangerous: Tax fraud through identity theft is an easy way for criminals to make money. The Internal Revenue Service has been known to give out billions in fraudulent tax refunds.
  • How to avoid this identity theft: File your income taxes early each tax season and shred any and all documents with your personal information on it.

While medical identity theft is dangerous in almost every aspect of your well-being – from a health to a financial standpoint – these other types of identity theft could also pose a threat to your or your loved ones’ futures. By protecting your personal information, you could help curb this crime and keep yourself from becoming a victim. Any large, unexpected changes in your score could signal new-account fraud and a sign that other serious forms of identity theft are on the way.

Be sure to enroll in our Identity Theft Protection Program from Sherpa – don’t wait until it’s too late! The best part? You can enroll right online, 24/7. You can trust in First Financial and Sherpa to help keep your personal information protected. Packages begin at just $5.99 per month – click here to enroll today!

*Original article source written by Patricia Oliver of USA Today.

4 Surprising Ways Your Identity Can Be Stolen

Smartphone in hand, concept of data protection, blue

Your phone’s SIM card could be taken. This is a hacking con in which a criminal uses a SIM reader or scanner to copy the information on your SIM card, a memory chip in your mobile phone. Once a thief has the code to your SIM card, they can copy it and basically use your phone’s information to make phone calls for free. Well, it isn’t free of course. You get to pay for those calls. Be wary of where you leave your mobile phone.

You could fall prey to visual hacking. This is when you are hacked by someone who spies your computer screen and steals information.

Given how easily strangers can come in contact with us at work – and in life, it’s worth thinking about. It’s also easy to imagine a thief pulling out a smartphone and taking a close-up photo of someone’s driver’s license, credit card or bank statement and slipping away without anyone being the wiser.

A spokeswoman for the Visual Privacy Advisory Council, suggests putting privacy filters and screen protectors on computer monitors, tablets and smartphones. That way, you can see what’s on your screen, but someone next to you, say on an airplane, can’t. And for those who are really worried, there are software filters that use facial recognition to recognize the computer user.

Someone could kidnap your digital identity. It may not be as troubling as getting your Social Security Number or credit card stolen, but it’s easy to imagine how someone could do a lot of damage to your reputation and more in this realm (i.e.; pretending to be you on Twitter).  Be sure to keep an eye out for this and review your security settings, along with changing your password frequently.

You could meet an old school thief. You might think that going off-the-grid has never sounded better. Give up an online presence. Get a landline. Just use cash. But you still need to be careful not to overlook old fashioned methods of identity theft.

One idea – if you use a check book, you may want to leave it at home and put a blank check in your wallet, if you’re going to be writing a check later in the day.  Just make sure your wallet isn’t left somewhere it can be swiped. Or photographed.

Don’t wait until it’s too late! Check out First Financial’s ID Theft Protection products – click here to learn more.

Article Source: Geoff Williams for http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2015/06/09/4-surprising-ways-your-identity-can-be-stolen

6 Things You Can Do to Ward Off ID Theft

magnifier_finger1. Be vigilant with your online information.

Only log into your online banking and financial institution sites from home or a secured location. This may seem simple, but it can be easy to forget.

2. Don’t use a debit card for online purchases.

A debit card is directly connected to your checking or savings account, so if there is fraud, your account can be drained — ouch!

A credit card is just that, credit. If there are purchases you don’t recognize, you can dispute them without your funds having already been withdrawn from your account. Consider having one credit card specifically for that purpose.

3. Monitor your accounts monthly.

When you go “paperless,” it can be easier to neglect checking your statements.  Be sure to review your bank accounts and credit card statements regularly to make sure they are correct and to watch for unauthorized purchases.

4. Simplify your financial information.

When you have multiple accounts and can fan out your credit cards like a deck of playing cards, it’s a challenge to stay on top of things. Consider paring down your accounts in order to better stay on top of them.

Also consider using an aggregation service, such as Mint.com, so all of your accounts and daily transactions are viewable with one single sign-in. This can help you easily stay on top of your account activity.

5. Check your credit information regularly and take advantage of free (or low-cost) credit monitoring services.

One problem with identity theft is that you may not know what you don’t know. If someone opens an account in your name and changes your address, you are left in the dark.

Subscribe to a credit monitoring service, like ID Theft Protection from First Financial. Don’t wait until it’s too late! To learn more about our ID Theft Protection products, click here and enroll today.

6. If you see something, report it right away.

If you suspect that your identity has been compromised, you can place a fraud alert on your credit file by calling any one of the three major credit reporting agencies shown below. A fraud alert is a notation on your credit file to warn credit issuers that there may be a problem. The credit issuer is asked to contact you at the telephone number that you supply to validate that you are the person applying for the credit.

TransUnion: 1.800.916.8800

Experian: 1.888.397.3742

Equifax: 1.800.685.1111

In accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, it is permissible for consumers to request a free copy of their credit report once every 12 months from each of the three major credit reporting agencies (TransUnion, Experian and Equifax).

To order a free credit report: www.annualcreditreport.com 

Article Source: Nancy Anderson for Forbes.com, http://www.forbes.com/sites/nancyanderson/2015/06/13/7-things-you-can-do-to-ward-off-identity-theft/