Identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information and uses it without your permission. Thieves may open credit card accounts, apply for loans, seek medical care and purchase telephone services in your name. Often, they change address records so you don't see the bills for their activity. It is a serious crime that can wreak havoc with your finances, credit history and reputation, and it can take time, money and patience to resolve. Identity thieves use a variety of ways to get your information. They "dumpster dive" or rummage through your garbage or steal from your mailbox. They may work for, or pretend to work for, legitimate businesses such as medical offices, banks, government agencies, or pharmacies and take advantage of the legitimacy and trustworthiness of those businesses to convince you to reveal personal information over the telephone (pretext calling) or email (phishing).
At Alden State Bank the only reason we would contact you seeking any type of personal or financial information would be if you had applied for a loan or were opening an account with us, or if we were investigating questionable activity involving your account. We will never ask for account numbers, debit card numbers, passwords or personal identification numbers (PINs). If you are contacted by someone claiming to be from Alden State Bank or receive an e-mail purporting to be from the bank and question its legitimacy do not give out any information and contact us immediately at 716-937-3381.
Steps you can take
We recommend the following to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft:
1. Shred financial statements, bank checks, credit card offers, receipts and credit applications before discarding them.
2. Never disclose account numbers, social security numbers, or credit card numbers over the telephone unless you initiated the call and know the person or organization you are dealing with.
3. Monitor account information and billing statements. Know your billing cycles – missing statements could be a sign that someone has filed a change of address notice to divert your statements to another address. Review statements for unauthorized charges or withdrawals.
4. Periodically obtain and review copies of your credit report. Federal law permits consumers to obtain a free report annually from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. To order a free credit report go to www.annualcreditreport.com/www.annualcreditreport.com> or call 1-877-322-8228.
If your identity has been stolen
If you think someone has misused your personal or financial information:
1. Call any one of the three credit reporting bureaus and ask them to put an initial fraud alert on your credit report. You will have to provide proof of your identity. The company you call will share the information with the other two credit bureaus:
- Equifax : 1-800-525-6285
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742
- Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289
2. Order your credit reports. Placing an initial fraud alert entitles you to a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting companies. Review the reports for questionable activity.
3. Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the local police. You can contact the FTC at 1-877-438-4338 or online at www.ftc.gov/complaint/www.ftc.gov/complaint> .
For a step-by-step guide on what to do if your identity has been stolen, visit http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/pdf-0009-taking-charge.pdf.