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Guarding against identity theft

Community Bank of Pickens County values our customer’s privacy and hope you never become the victim of identity theft. As these crimes become increasingly wide-spread, we would like to provide some information to help you recognize some of the methods that hackers use so that you may better protect yourself.

What is identity theft?

Identity theft is where a thief steals your personal information, such as your full name and social security number, to commit fraud. Using your identity, the thief can open new accounts, file tax refunds, or make purchases. Identity thieves have even been known to seek medical treatment using the victim’s health insurance.

How can I spot identity theft?

To spot identity theft, there are certain red-flags to watch-out for:

  • You notice unexplained withdrawals from your bank accounts.
  • You don’t receive your statements, bills, or other mail.
  • Merchants begin refusing your checks.
  • Debt collectors begin calling about debts that aren’t yours.
  • You receive bills for products or services you didn’t purchase.
  • You notice claims on your health insurance for services you didn’t use.
  • IRS notifies you that more than one tax return was filed in your name or that income is being reported by an employer you don’t work for.
  • You receive a notice that your information was compromised by a data breach at a company where you do business or have an account with.

What can I do to prevent identity theft?

Since prevention is the best course of action with identity theft, we have put together some basic precautions:

  • Lock your financial documents and records in a safe place at home and your wallet or purse in safe place at work protecting your information from prying eyes.
  • Limit what you carry when you go out. Take identification and only the credit and debit cards you need, leaving your social security card at home. If you carry a Medicare card, make a copy to carry with you and mark out the last four digits of the number on the copy. Only carry your Medicare card when you are going to visit the doctor.
  • Shred receipts, credit offers, credit applications, insurance forms, banks statements, expired credit cards, and other items that may contain personal information.
  • Remove or destroy the labels on prescription bottles before disposing of them and don’t share health plan information with anyone offering free products or services.
  • Deliver outgoing mail to the post office or a collection box, and if you are going to be out of town for a few days, place a vacation hold on your mail.
  • When ordering checks, have them sent to your bank or a post office box that can be secured with a key.
  • Know who you are sharing your information with. Don’t share personal information over the phone, email, or the internet unless you initiated contact and know who you are dealing with.
  • Don’t click links within emails. Type in the company’s site name into your browser manually or call their customer service to verify that they sent the email.
  • Make sure your devices are clean before disposing of them. Use a utility to wipe the computer’s hard drive to remove any personal information. For mobile devices, check the owner’s manual your service provider’s web site for instructions on how to remove personal information from the device.
  • Use secure web sites. Only share information with web sites using https (e.g. https://www.cbopc.com). A  lock will appear in the address bar or status bar to confirm that the connection is secure.
  • Use strong passwords for your most sensitive web sites such as banking, credit, and email. A password of 8 characters is often the minimum but consider using 12 characters or more. The longer the password, the better.
  • Be careful what you share on social media. Identity thieves could glean personal information from these sites and use it to answer challenge questions protecting your online accounts.
  • Don’t share your social security number unless you know:
    • why they need it
    • how they will use it
    • how they will protect it
    • what happens if you don’t share the number
  • Secure your device by utilizing anti-virus/anti-malware software and a firewall.
  • Only download apps from your mobile device’s preferred app store.
  • Don’t open unsolicited attachments in emails, even if it is from someone you know.
  • When using Wi-Fi, only join trusted networks and avoid accessing sensitive data when using public Wi-Fi.
  • Don’t use automatic login or save password features on your laptop. It will make if more difficult to for thieves to access your information if it is ever stolen.
  • Always read the privacy policy. It will tell you how a company will use your information it collects and what it shares with third-parties.

What should I do if my identity is stolen?

If you become a victim of identity theft, immediately take the following steps:

  1. Contact each of the companies where you know fraud has occurred. Inform their fraud department that someone has stolen your identity and ask them to freeze the account to prevent further charges. Change any logins, passwords, and PINs associated with the account.
  2. Contact one of the credit reporting agencies to request a fraud alert be placed in your credit file. That agency must then report it to the other two. Visit annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228 to request a copy of your credit report for review.
  3. Report the incident to the FTC by visiting identitytheft.gov or call 1-877-438-4338 and they will assist you with your report and how to begin repairing the damage.
  4. Contact your local police or sheriff’s department and make a report. Include a copy of your FTC Identity Theft Report, a government-issued photo ID, proof of address (mortgage statement, rental agreement, or utility bill), any proof of theft (IRS notices, bills, credit card statements, etc.), and a copy of the FTC Memo to Law Enforcement. Request a copy of the police report as it may be needed later during the recovery phase.

For more information on identity theft and what to do if you become a victim of identity theft visit ftc.gov/idtheft.

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