Understanding Cybersecurity Protection and the Signs of ID Theft
ID Theft is a serious crime, but increased awareness of cybersecurity protection can help you avoid or mitigate this type of loss. According to the FBI, in addition to what's known as "smash and grab" burglaries or theft of credit cards and ID cards, criminals are now stealing personal data through email phishing scams and computer intrusions. If you believe your identity might have been stolen, there are many resources available to help you recover from this type of crime.
Signs of ID Fraud
Catching ID fraud early is the best chance you have to limit your losses. When reviewing bank and credit card statements, question anything that appears out of the ordinary. Receiving mail or phone calls about accounts you did not open can also alert you to the possibility of ID theft. The Federal Trade Commission states that you may be a victim of identity theft if you notice unexplained withdrawals from a bank account or incorrect charges to your credit card account. You should review your credit report every six months and follow up on any credit card or account that you don't remember opening. Closing inactive accounts will also limit the number of accounts you need to manage and check on each year.
Action Steps to Stop ID Theft
ID theft is a serious crime and should be treated as such. If you think someone is misusing your personal information, your first step should be to report suspicious activity. You can reach out to law enforcement or report it online at IdentityTheft.gov. You should also contact all financial institutions where you maintain accounts as well as creditors including credit card companies. A fraud alert can be added to your credit report informing potential creditors that you are the victim of identity fraud. This will help to avoid additional accounts opened under your name.
How Your Bank Can Help
If you are a victim of identity theft, your bank can help. Most financial institutions have dedicated fraud and ID theft representatives who can help you determine if you'll need to temporarily freeze an account or close it and open a new one. Or, if your debit card was compromised, you can work with your bank to replace it. Banks can also place passwords on your accounts as additional verification before granting access to your funds. If you've signed up for online banking access, you can quickly review your recent transactions and withdrawals in order to flag unknown activity.
As more financial transactions move online, increased awareness of cybersecurity protection allows you to pick up on discrepancies quickly. Banks and credit card companies are working to prevent ID theft with increased security measures to ensure their customers' transactions are completed as safely as possible.