Protecting Your Identity
Important Note – The Bank of Santa Barbara will never ask for personal information (such as your account number, social security number, password, or PIN) in an email or send you any email with a link to a website that asks for any such information.
PROTECT YOURSELF FROM FRAUD
Here are some suggestions on how you can prevent your financial information from being used fraudulently:
- Never give your credit card or bank account number to any unsolicited caller who is unknown to you and seeks to sell you something or offers you a prize.
- Memorize your personal identification number (PIN) for ATM transactions and other banking business; if you must write it down, and keep it separate from your card.
- Never use your Social Security Number as a password.
- Do not put your address, phone number, or other personal information that does not appear on the front of your credit card on a credit card receipt.
In general, identify theft is more extensive than fraud. Fraud is usually limited to an isolated attempt to steal money from an existing account. Identity theft is a more complex form of financial fraud; thieves use your confidential information to repeatedly commit fraudulent activities in your name, such as when applying for car loans, rent apartments, or open a bank account to write bad checks. They essentially attempt to duplicate your identity, which can harm your financial standing and your credit.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft takes place when someone steals your personal information (such as your name, social security or bank account number) to commit fraud. These thieves use the information to repeatedly commit fraud in an attempt to duplicate your identity. It can have a negative effect on your credit and create a financial hassle for you. Take action to minimize the changes of becoming a victim of identity theft. Top seven ways someone can steal your identity:
- Lost or stolen information like Social Security Cards, checkbooks, credit cards or your mail can provide criminals with enough data to commit fraud.
- Onlookers at the ATM or in stores may get your PIN while you are using your debit card.
- Inside jobs are also a threat to your security. An employee of a business such as a doctor's office or financial services company may illegally access personal information and sell it to identity thieves.
- The Internet creates a place that criminals collect critical personal information. They use the Internet to look for personal pages that contain information like genealogical data with your mother's maiden name that can be used to set up a credit card account or possible access existing accounts.
- Phishing is an attempt to steal confidential information from consumers through the use of "pop ups" or emails. These emails have Internet links to deceive you into disclosing sensitive information, such as bank account numbers and social security numbers. Oftentimes the email appears as if it coming from a trusted source. It directs you to a "spoof" website that encourages you to divulge sensitive information.
- Skimmers are devices used to read the magnetic strip from your credit card or bank card. They are often hidden in places where you legitimately use your card to make a transaction like an ATM or restaurant. Your information is typically used within 24 hours of the skim to make online purchases.
- On the phone you may be duped into providing information to someone disguising themselves as a legitimate business representative like your phone company, a department store, or cable company.
Ten Tips to Protect Your Identity
- Reconcile your bank and credit card statements monthly. Make sure that there is nothing suspicious or out of the ordinary on your statements
- Guard your Personal Identification Numbers (PIN)s. Do not keep your PIN with any of your credit or ATM cards.
- Be wary of "phishing" emails that appear to be from a valid company or financial institution requesting confidential information. Legitimate organizations typically do not send unsolicited emails asking for confidential information. Do not reply to these emails or click on links embedded with them.
- Report lost or stolen checks or credit cards immediately.
- Pay bills online or use a locked mailbox to avoid mailbox theft. You are less likely to have your personal information stolen online than from your mailbox. Have your new personal checks delivered to your local financial institution.
- Check your credit report at least twice a year. The three major credit-reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, TransUnion) are required to provide you with one free credit report a year. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com to obtain yours.
- Do not give out information such as checking account, credit card or Social Security numbers over the phone unless you initiated the call.
- Avoid passwords that are easy to discover like your mother's maiden name or your birth date. Regularly change your passwords. Also, create a username that is unique and difficult for others to guess. For tips on creating a secured password, click here.
- Shred all documents containing personal information.
- If you think you are a victim of identity theft, take action immediately. Contact the local police, your bank(s), the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax (800)525-6285, Experian (888) 397-3742 and TransUnion (800) 680-7289), and the Federal Trade Commission at (877) IDTHEFT.
Check these resources for more information on identity theft and your credit report:
- Annual credit report website www.annualcreditreport.com
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) www.ftc.gov
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)www.fdic.gov
- Major Credit Reporting Bureaus:
How to Report a Suspicious Email:
If you suspect that you've received a fraudulent Bank of Santa Barbara email, please call us at 805-730-7860 or forward it to us at email@example.com
Don't change or retype the subject line - this inhibits our ability to properly investigate it. After forwarding the email, you should delete it from your Inbox, Sent Items, and Deleted Items folders.