Identity Theft: Facts You Should Know
Identity theft, when someone uses the personal information of another for fraudulent purposes, has taken its toll on the U.S.-approximately one American every minute is victimized by this crime-up to 500,000 people annually.
All that is needed is a name and address, your social security number, credit card or bank account number. Many thieves obtain this information by raiding mailboxes, dumpster diving, calling under the guise of a telemarketer or soliciting information over the Internet using an unsecured site. In turn, they open credit cards or establish a cellular service-racking up charges and ruining your good name. Victims spend years and, according to the Federal Trade Commission, an average of $1000, to clear their name from bad credit ratings, delinquent loans and outstanding credit card balances.
At First Commonwealth, we go to the necessary lengths to safeguard your information. We seek to not only preserve your trust, but also your good name.
Precautions You Can Take to Minimize Your Risk
- Tear or shred account statements, canceled checks, pre-approved credit card offers or any other material containing personal information.
- Carry only identification, bank and credit cards that are necessary. Do not write down PINs, but rather commit them to memory.
- Be wary when using ATMs or phone cards. A wandering eye can quickly pick up your PIN.
- Whenever possible, "password-protect" your credit cards. Contact your card issuer to determine if password protection is available on your card or account. Using a password or Personal Identification Number (PIN) is another step to make your card or account less useful to others. Select a password or PIN that does not contain obvious and attainable information, such as your mother's maiden name, your birth date or phone number, the last four digits of your social security number or words relating to your occupation should be avoided.
- Don’t leave outgoing mail in your mailbox. Instead, drop in a bin at the post office. Remove incoming mail as soon as possible. If you are going out of town, plan for the U.S. Postal Service to hold your mail.
- Keep track of billing cycles and notify the company immediately if anything questionable appears on your statement or if your bill has not arrived on time.
- Do not place a credit card or driver's license number on your checks.
- Provide your social security number only when necessary. Keep it in a safe and secure location and never print it on checks.
- For a nominal fee, annually contact the fraud departments of the three major credit reporting agencies for a copy of your credit report and check for accuracy:
Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
Information from the Federal Trade Commission Website (www.ftc.gov) and American Bankers Association Identity Theft Communications Kit (www.aba.com)
How First Commonwealth Helps Secure Your Identity
- First Commonwealth Bank currently participates in a secure mail program with Deluxe Financial, Inc. This preferred vendor checks for possible mail fraud if the client orders checks through Deluxe. For instance, if an order has one address printed on the checks, but they are shipped to a different address, Deluxe will contact your community office to verify the order. Additionally, if the check order is not deliverable, it is returned to Deluxe, not the community office. Upon receipt of the returned order, Deluxe destroys the checks, the community office is notified, and you are contacted to arrange for a new order, at no additional cost. (This decreases the likelihood that your checks are intercepted by a thief.)
- BillPay, our Internet bill payment and presentment service, allows you to pay bills electronically using a secure server.
- Select Homeowners Insurance Policies offered by First Commonwealth extend additional coverage. For example, one carrier frequently used by First Commonwealth gives the option of Identity Fraud Expense Coverage, if the applicant qualifies. For more information or to obtain a quote, contact First Commonwealth Insurance Agency at 1-877-367-3242.
- At First Commonwealth, securing financial and personal information about you has always been a priority. Physical and electronic safeguards are in place and continually maintained. In keeping with privacy protection, First Commonwealth ensures that its policies and procedures comply with federal regulations and restrict unauthorized access to client information.
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