Fraudsters do not discriminate based on race, ethnicity, gender, age, education, or income. Older consumers are often more likely to be targeted since they can be more trusting and less likely to report theft. Falling victim to fraud can happen fast. People can steal your driver’s license or social security number, in addition to other sensitive information.
Be mindful and mitigate your risk. “Always be careful placing important mail in your mailbox with the red flag up. Fraudsters know people often mail payments for bills. It’s a good practice to use a secure mailbox instead, or to take bills to the post office,” Karen Kulick, Vice President and Compliance Officer at NexTier Bank said. This is a small way to ensure your checking account information isn’t compromised.
Review your accounts often and pay attention to your mail. If you stop receiving junk mail and credit card offers, someone may have stolen your identity.
Children are also a popular target since identity thieves realize a child won’t be checking their credit report for a while. Plus, it offers the fraudster a fresh start.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), younger adults lose money to fraud more often, but when older people experience a fraud-related financial loss, the median amount is much higher. If you suspect identity theft, even if the loss is minimal, you need to act immediately.
There are many types of Identity Theft:
- Financial identity theft
- Criminal identity theft
- Tax identity theft
- Child identity theft
- Medical identity theft
- Identity cloning and concealment
- Synthetic identity theft.
What should you do if you suspect fraud or identity theft?
Step 1: Call the companies where the fraud occurred.
Call each fraud department. Explain to the representative that you suspect someone stole your identity, and request they freeze all accounts effective immediately. Have them set up an alert that no one can add charges without your approval.
You’ll also want to change logins, passwords, and PINS for your account. Be sure to update all logins where you use the compromised username and password to protect yourself from additional fraud.
Step 2: Place a fraud alert and pull your credit reports.
To place a fraud alert, contact one of the three credit bureaus. You only need to contact one, as that company must notify the other two.
Fraud alerts only last one year. Renew annually to make it harder for someone to open a new account in your name.
You are entitled to one free credit report from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion each year. Visit annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.
Review your accounts and transactions. Are there any transactions you don’t recognize? Report suspicious activity to the FTC and the police.
Step 3: Report identity theft to the FTC.
Visit IdentityTheft.gov to report identity theft using as many details as possible. IdentityTheft.gov will create your Identity Theft Report and recover plan based on information you enter.
Step 4: Begin to repair the damage.
Call each department where a new account was opened. Explaining someone stole your identity and ask them to close the account. Have them send a letter notating the fraudulent activity wasn’t yours, and you aren’t held liable for it. Follow up to make sure it was removed from your credit report.
This same procedure applies to removing bogus charges from your accounts. You may be required to send a copy of your identity theft report or a special dispute form. Notate who you talked to and when.
Step 5: Correct your credit report.
Write a letter to each of the three credit bureaus. Explain which information on your report is fraudulent. Ask them to block that information. Once the information is blocked, it won’t show up on your credit report, and companies can’t attempt to collect the debt from you.
Even without an identity theft report, you can still dispute incorrect information in your credit file. The process may take longer, and there is no guarantee it will be removed. To do this, contact each credit bureau online or by phone.
Mail your block request letters to:
Attn: Fraud Victim Assistance Department
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022-2000
P.O. Box 105069
Atlanta, GA 30348-5069
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
For more information:
- Report identity theft and find out what to do if you’ve been victimized: https://www.identitytheft.gov
- Monitor your credit report and check it annually: https://www.annualcreditreport.com
- Find a complaint against rip-off schemers and scam artists: https://www.ftc.gov
- Federal Trade Commission: https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2019/10/ftc-report-congress-details-fraud-reports-older-consumers
NexTier Bank, N.A. does not endorse or guarantee the products, information or recommendations provided by linked sites. NexTier Bank is not liable for any failure of products, services or information provided through third party sites. Third party linked sites may have privacy policies that differ from NexTier Bank; and linked sites may or may not provide the same level of security.