If you suspect misuse of
your personal information to commit fraud, take immediate action. Keep
a record of all conversations and correspondence when you take the following
Contact your financial institutions
and credit card issuers immediately so that the following can be
Access to your accounts can be protected;
Stop payments can be placed on missing
Personal identification numbers
(PINs) and on-line banking passwords can be changed;
A new account can be opened, if
to indicate to the bank or card issuer all of the accounts and/or cards
potentially impacted; including ATM cards, check (debit) cards and credit
cards. Customer service or fraud prevention telephone numbers can generally
be found on your monthly statements. Contact the major check verification
companies to request they notify retailers using their databases not
to accept these stolen checks, or ask your bank to notify the check
verification service with which it does business. Three of the check
verification companies that accept reports of check fraud directly from
TeleCheck (800) 710-9898
International Check Services (800) 631-9656
Equifax (800) 437-5120
File a police
report with your local police department. Obtain a police report number
with the date, time, police department, location, and police officer
taking the report. The police report may initiate an investigation into
the loss with the goal of identifying, arresting, and prosecuting the
offender, and possibly recovering your lost items. The police report
will be helpful when clarifying to creditors that your are a victim
of identity theft.
Contact the major credit
bureaus and request a copy of your credit report. Review your reports
to make sure additional fraudulent accounts have not been opened in
your name nor that unauthorized changes have been made to your existing
accounts. Check the section of your report that lists "inquiries." Request
that the "inquiries" be removed from your report from the companies
that opened the fraudulent accounts. In a few months, order new copies
of your reports to verify your corrections and changes to make sure
no new fraudulent activity has occurred. Request a "fraud alert" for
your file and a victim's statement asking creditors to call you before
opening new accounts or changing your existing ones. This can help prevent
an identity thief from opening additional accounts in your name. Here
are the major credit bureaus and their phone numbers:
Trans Union (800-680-7289)
mail for items or statements that may have been stolen, or that were
never received or delivered. Make sure no one has requested an unauthorized
address change, title change, PIN change, nor ordered new cards or checks
to be sent to another address. If a thief has stolen your mail to get
credit cards, bank and credit card statements, pre-screened credit offers
or tax information, or if an identity thief has falsified change-of-address
forms, that's a crime. Contact your local post office and police.
Maintain a written chronology of what happened,
what was lost and the steps you took to report the incident to the various
agencies, banks and firms impacted. Be sure to record the date, time,
contact telephone numbers, person you talked to and any relevant report
or reference numbers and instructions.
Identity Theft: Steps to
Safeguard Your Identity
Always keep in mind that
American Bank will never send unsolicited email
containing attachments, or require customers to send personal
information to us via email or pop-up windows. Any
unsolicited request for American Bank account information you
receive through emails, Web sites, or pop-up windows should
be considered fraudulent and reported to us immediately.
Up to 500,000 individuals are victims each year of identity theft,
a fast-growing form of fraud. Fortunately, a few simple steps can help ensure
that you stay out of these statistics.
"Identity theft" or "account takeover fraud" involves criminals stealing
an individual's personal information. The criminal assumes a person's identity,
applies for credit in the victim's name, runs up huge bills and generally
wrecks the victim's credit record.
At American Bank, we put a combination of safeguards in place to protect
customers including employee training, rigorous security standards, data
encryption, and fraud detection.
You can take these steps to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft:
Don't give your Social Security or account
numbers to anyone over the phone unless you initiated the call.
Tear up receipts, old account statements
and unused credit card offers before throwing them away. Criminals could
steal information from your trash and use it to get credit in your name.
Review your account and credit card statements
as soon as you receive them to check for unauthorized transactions.
Protect your PINs and computer passwords;
use a combination of letters and numbers and change them often. Never
carry this information with you!
Order copies of your credit report once
a year to ensure accuracy. Call any of the national credit reporting
Report any suspected fraud to American Bank
and credit card issuers immediately so that they can start to close
accounts and clear your name right away.
By law you are only liable for the first $50.00
of unauthorized charges against a credit card account. Still, restoring
you identity can be a tremendous inconvenience. It's worth your while to
exercise a little preventive maintenance. Protect yourself against this
For more personal finance tips visit the American Bankers Association's
Consumer Connection at www.aba.com
or the Federal Trade Commission at