ID Theft Prevention
An identity thief doesn’t just steal your credit card and go on a spending spree. They get new cards, open new accounts and take out loans, and then leave a trail of unpaid bills in your name.
Identity theft victims may be unaware that their identity has been stolen until they receive a collection call or try to obtain credit.
How Someone Can Steal Your Identity?
Despite your best efforts to manage the flow of your personal information or to keep it to yourself, skilled identity thieves may use a variety of methods to gain access to your data.
- Getting information from businesses or other institutions by:
- stealing records or information while they're on the job
- bribing an employee who has access to these records
- hacking these records
- conning information out of employees
- Stealing your mail, including bank and credit card statements, credit card offers, new checks, and tax information. Rummaging through your trash, the trash of businesses, or public trash dumps in a practice known as “dumpster diving”.
- Obtaining your credit reports by abusing their employer’s authorized access to them, or by posing as a landlord, employer, or someone else who may have a legal right to access your report.
- Stealing your credit or debit card numbers by capturing the information in a data storage device in a practice known as “skimming.” They may swipe your card for an actual purchase, or attach the device to an ATM machine where you may enter or swipe your card.
- Stealing your wallet or purse.
- Using personal information you share on the Internet. Completing a “change of address form” to divert your mail to another location.
- Stealing personal information they find in your home.
- Stealing personal information from you through email or phone by posing as legitimate companies and claiming that you have a problem with your account. This practice is known as “phishing” online, or pretexting by phone.
Preventing Identity Theft
Millions of Americans become victims of identity theft each year. Although the problem continues to grow, there are a number of ways you can help protect yourself and prevent the unlawful use of your personal identity. Here are some tips:
- Don’t keep Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) near your checkbook or credit card.
- Shred all papers with confidential information.
- This includes the “pre–approved” credit card offers you receive. A cross–cut shredder is recommended.
- Don’t leave bill payments or letters with personal or financial information in your home mailbox for pick up. Use a standard Post Office mailbox.
- Keep a photocopy of the items in your wallet or purse in a safe location at home. Copy the back and front of all the documents.
- Cancel credit cards you have not used in 6 months. Report lost or stolen credit cards immediately.
- Check bank and credit card statements immediately to ensure there is no fraudulent activity.
- Be particularly careful when giving out your Social Security number. There are only a few instances when this is necessary — applying for credit, preparing tax information and applying for a job.
- Be careful when using ATMs or phone cards to be sure no one is watching you to steal your PIN.
- Be careful about Internet web sites you are using. If ordering merchandise, use only sites with adequate security.
- Be alert to scams. Do not give out personal information to unsolicited calls or mailings. Be suspicious. Ask yourself if the information being shared with you makes sense.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Review your credit bureau annually. You can do this for free one time a year.
- Keep personal information safe at home, especially if you have roommates or a lot of traffic in your home.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Watch for unusual activity or suspicious individuals.
- Limit the number of credit cards in your wallet or purse in case either is stolen.
- Mark your calendar if you have requested a new credit card or a replacement for expiring cards. This way you will know if the cards arrive.
- When signing credit card slips don’t write personal information such as social security numbers, addresses, etc.
- Memorize your social security number and passwords.
- Don’t carry any more identification than what is needed. This includes birth certificates, social security cards and passports.
Obtaining Your Credit Report
One of the most important steps you can take to ensure that you have not become an Identity Theft victim is to check your credit report.
What To Do If You Become A Victim Of Identity Theft
The following are the most crucial steps you should take after becoming a victim of identity theft. Refer to the “Other Important Things to Remember” section below for a list of agencies and important phone numbers you’ll need.
- Contact your Vectra Bank Colorado Branch or the Vectra Bank Loss Prevention Team at 1–866–749–7470
as soon as possible. In the event your Vectra account is involved in identity theft or any other
illegal activity, we have a team of specialists available to assist you. Vectra Bank’s Loss Prevention
Team will coordinate efforts between you, law enforcement and branch personnel. It is critical
that these individuals become involved. They have the knowledge and experience to help identify
what has happened and what action needs to be taken.
- File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity
theft took place. Get a copy of the report, or at the very least the number of the report,
to submit to your creditors and others that may require proof of the crime.
- Contact the fraud departments of any one of the three consumer reporting companies
to place a fraud alert on your credit report. The fraud alert tells creditors to contact you before opening
any new accounts or making any changes to your existing accounts. You only need to contact
one of the three companies to place an alert. The company you call is required to contact the
other two, which will place an alert on their versions of your report too. Once you place
the fraud alert in your file, you’re entitled to order free copies of your credit reports,
and if you ask, only the last four digits of your Social Security number will appear on
your credit reports.
- Contact all credit card companies, creditors, banks and financial institutions.
- Request that those accounts be processed as “Account Closed at Consumer’s Request.”
- Get replacement cards with new account numbers. Change All Personal Identification Numbers (PINS). Stop payments on any checks that are suspect. Change any passwords on accounts. Do not use the old password, mother’s maiden name, birth date or any portion of your Social Security number, or other easily obtained passwords. Follow up all telephone contacts with a written confirmation.
- If you have had checks stolen or bank accounts set up by an identity thief, inform the verification
companies that you are an identity theft victim.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission
- The FTC maintains a database of identity theft cases used by law enforcement agencies for investigations.
- Contact Check Verification Companies
- If you have had checks stolen or bank accounts set up by an identity thief. Inform the verification
companies that you are an identity theft victim.
- If you have had checks stolen or bank accounts set up by an identity thief. Inform the verification companies that you are an identity theft victim.
- Contact Utility and Services Provider Companies
- Alert each company or service provider of the theft of your identity and inform them that attempts may be made to open new services using your personal information.
- Request that any new requests for service be confirmed with you and provide a telephone number
and address. Keep a copy of all of the requests.
- Contact Your Local Post Office
- Notify your local Postal Inspector if you suspect an identity thief has filed a change of address with the post office for your address or has used the mail to commit fraud.
- Notify the local Post Office to forward all mail in your name to your address.
- Confirm all telephone conversations in writing
Other Important Things To Remember
Keep complete records
- Keep detailed notes and records of all telephone conversations with credit reporting agencies, creditors and collection agencies as well as a record of the time spent and any expenses you incurred. This will be helpful in case you can request restitution in a later judgment against the thief.
When contacting the credit bureaus, you may also want to:
- Ask them to inform you of the names, addresses and telephone numbers of any credit grantor with whom fraudulent accounts have been opened.
- Request that these inquires be deleted from your report.
- Request that all applications for credit be confirmed by telephone AND in writing.
- Request a copy of your credit report every few months to monitor the activity under your name and Social Security number.
Contact the Social Security Administration
- If an identity thief has your Social Security number they can use it to request loans, apply for jobs and apply for government benefits. Alerting the Social Security Administration can help stop the thief.
For more tips on how to protect you and your family from identity theft as well as what else to do if your identity is stolen, contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877 IDTHEFT (438-4338), visit www.consumer.gov/idtheft, visit the Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s ID Theft website at http://cbi.state.co.us/idtheft/, or talk with your Vectra banker.
Handbook to Credit Protection Laws”
Laws and Acts that protect you when you apply for credit.
Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act”
Learn about the rights you have regarding credit bureaus and your credit information.
The Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act requires that financial institutions provide consumers with information on their privacy practices for protecting non–public personal information.
Choices For Your Personal Financial Information”
Teaches you more about privacy laws and helps you understand privacy notices and your right to opt–out.
Credit Reporting Bureaus
P.O. Box 105873
Atlanta, GA 30348
Order Report: 800-685-1111
Web site: www.equifax.com
Experian (formally TRW)
P.O. Box 2104
Allen, TX 75013-2104
Order Report: 888-397-3742
Web site: www.experian.com
U.S. Federal Trade Commission
(oversees operation of credit bureaus)
Consumer Response Center:
Web site: www.ftc.gov
U.S. Postal Service/Inspector:
Web site: www.usps.gov/websites/depart/inspect
U.S. Social Security Administration
Report Fraud: 800-269-0271
Web site: www.ssa.gov
U.S. Social Security Cards: 800-722-1213
U.S. Secret Service
(Look in local phone book under government pages)
Web site: www.secretservice.gov
Check Rite: 800-766-2748
Natl Processing Co.: 800-526-5280M
Birth Certificates & Other Vital Records:
4300 Cherry Creek Drive South
Denver, CO 80246
Consular Regular Report of Birth
(for U.S. citizens born abroad): 202-955-0307
Immigration and Naturalization: 800-375-5283
Pre-Screened Credit Offers: 1-888-5OPTOUT