Identity Theft Tips

Protect Yourself from Identity Theft: It's Your Good Name on the Line!

Over the past several years, identity theft has become one of the fastest growing crimes in the U.S. With approximately 1,000,000,000 victims a year, we are no where near winning the war on crime.

Identity theft happens when someone obtains your personal private information without your knowledge or permission, and uses it to commit fraud, or other crimes. Victims are often left with bad credit reports, unpaid loans, crimes committed in their names, and an empty feeling of vulnerability and violation by total strangers. We must fight back. Providing preventive tips to you is one way we, as a financial institution, can help wage the war on this monstrous white-collar crime.

Financial ID theft can occur when someone comes into possession of your social security number, name, date of birth or other personal information, and uses that information to illegally obtain various services such as telephone service, credit and charge cards, auto loans and other loan types in your name, apartment rentals in your name, and various other services in your name. You can help prevent identity theft by practicing safety and security of your personal financial information in your daily routine. Here are a few safety measures you can begin using right away.

Memorize your social security number and do not carry the card with you unless you have a specific need to do so at a particular time.

If you do not have a shredder at home, it's a wise idea to buy one. For approximately $60 - $70, you can invest in a good cross-cut shredder which can be used to shred all your financial information and other paperwork containing private, personal information. But, before shredding credit and charge card receipts, do verify them against your statement. Expired plastic cards should also be shredded or cut into small pieces. Don't forget to shred those pre-approved credit offers and other unwanted solicitations containing your name and address.

Do not put your social security number on your personal checks.

When making a credit card sale, do not put your address, telephone number, or driver's license number on the receipt.

Be hesitant about giving personal information or any financial information over the telephone, especially to an unknown caller. As your financial provider, we, at Edwards Federal Credit Union, already have your personal and financial information. Should we need to call you, it will not require us to ask you for that same personal information. If this ever happens to you and you want to verify that the Edwards Federal Credit Union caller is legitimate, ask for the name and extension of the caller, hang up and call us back. Ask for the caller by name at the extension given to you.

Cancel credit cards that you have not used in six (6) months. Thieves can use these very easily - open credit is a prime target.

If you are the least bit suspicious that someone might have unauthorized access to your accounts, put fictitious passwords on them.

Order your credit report at least once a year. Upon receipt of the report, review it carefully for anything that seems incorrect or out of the ordinary. Correct any inaccuracies by writing to the credit reporting agency. In your letter, be specific in your identification of the inaccuracies. The credit reporting agency is required to respond back to you within 30 days after receipt of your request.

When deciding to purchase online, use your credit cards only at websites that are secure. Look for the little lock in the bottom right portion of your screen. If something makes you feel uncomfortable about the web site, or if you don't feel that the site is secure, purchase your items over the telephone instead.

For online purchases, take advantage of free security services for your credit cards such as Verified by Visa®. Verified by Visa is a secure way to password protect your Visa credit cards, making it safer to shop online. You can easily reach Verified by Visa online at www.visa.com/shopverified or simply click on the Verified by Visa icon on our Visa page.

Periodically visit identity theft web sites to stay current on preventive measures. Some sites containing valuable information for your consideration are:

Identity Theft Prevention and Survival www.identitytheft.org
Identity Theft Resource Center www.idtheftcenter.org
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse www.privacyrights.org/identity.htm
National Fraud Information Center www.fraud.org
Social Security Administration www.ssa.gov/pubs/idtheft.htm
U.S. Department of Justice www.usdoj.gov/criminal/fraud/idtheft.html
U.S. Government www.consumer.gov/idtheft

Keep these important phone numbers handy to report fraud or to order a credit report:
Experian: Order Credit Report - 888-524-3606
To Report Fraud - 888-397-3742
Web Site: www.experian.com
Equifax: Order Credit Report - 800-685-1111
To Report Fraud - 800-525-6285
Web Site: www.equifax.com
Trans Union: Order Credit Report - 800-888-4213
To Report Fraud - 800-680-7289
Web Site: www.tuc.com