At Guaranty Bank & Trust, we are serious about protecting your identity. According to the FBI, identity theft is the fastest growing white-collar crime in the nation. It involves criminally using another individual's personal identifiers, which are acquired through various means, including your own mailbox and your own computer.
Identity thieves seek to obtain your name, address, and bank or card account numbers, or your social security number, etc., to take over your identity. The crooks then seek to change your address, open new accounts at banks and credit card companies in your name, and deplete your funds, running up huge credit card balances and generally creating havoc with your good name and credit rating.
We have put in place several measures to help protect your identity. We ask for certain identifying information when responding to telephone requests for information. We are careful to shred all documents containing customer information when those documents are no longer needed. We adhere to federal guidelines when it comes to password security on all computer systems. Virus protection software is used on all systems and updated regularly.
What can you do to help protect your identity?
Identity protection is chiefly your responsibility. You are in the best position to protect your own identity by taking some basic precautions. Here are some suggestions of things you can do:
- Use passwords on all accounts and your PC that are difficult to guess -- and don't use the same password for everything. Don't use passwords that relate to family names, birthdays, your SSN, addresses, or your job. Change your passwords frequently.
- Don't keep passwords on you, and don't write such information on your debit card, or on notes attached to your computer or desk.
- Be careful what you throw in the trash such as bills, cancelled checks, account statements, marketing solicitations and similar documents.
- Shred or tear up your charge receipts, credit card solicitations, expired cards, statements, checks, outdated documents and other sensitive personal information.
- Carry only the identification and bank/credit cards you actually need.
- Review your monthly statements promptly and carefully. Immediately report anything that seems unusual.
- Destroy AND CANCEL old, unwanted or unused credit cards. Cutting them up is not enough.
- Don't give private information to anyone unless you are positive who the person is and they have a legitimate need to know.
- Never lend anyone your password - you will likely be responsible for anything that results.
- Guard your mail. Deposit outgoing mail at the post office rather than in your mailbox. Promptly remove incoming mail from your mailbox.
- Be especially cautious of anyone claiming to be from your bank or from a law enforcement agency. Generally, anyone associated with your bank who calls you will already have your information at hand and should not need to ask you for it.
- Take advantage of your free annual credit report by contacting one of the credit reporting agencies. Review your report and look for any suspicious entries.
- Guard your social security number. Don't carry it in your wallet or write it on checks.
- Be careful and mindful of who is around you at ATM's. "Shoulder surfers" can get your PIN number and gain access to your account.
- When using machines such as ATM's or gas pumps, be aware if it appears as though someone has placed a card reading device over the one that you are accustomed to seeing.
- Never leave your wallet/purse/checkbook in your car
Who do I contact if I believe I am a victim of identity theft?
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the federal government's primary agency for dealing with identity theft matters. They operate a hotline devoted only to identity theft. The toll free number is 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338). The FTC Website is www.ftc.gov.
If you become a victim, first contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus. Second, contact the creditors or bank for any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. Third, file a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place.
The telephone numbers of the three major credit reporting agencies are:
- Equifax - 1-800-525-6285
- Experian - 1-888-766-0008
- TransUnion - 1-800-680-7289