Is Someone Out There Pretending to be You?
The Federal Trade Commission estimates that as many as nine million Americans have their identities stolen each year. Here are some proactive steps you might take to help protect your personal information.
- NEVER give your Social Security number, account numbers, credit or debit card numbers, or any other personal information to any organization that calls or emails you, unless you initiated the contact. Many telephone and e-mail scams are very cleverly designed to make you think you’re giving this information to a reputable company, government agency, or even your own bank. And remember, Millbury Savings Bank will never e-mail or telephone you to ask for this information.
- Review all bank and credit card statements against your receipts as soon as you receive them, and report any unauthorized transactions. If you act quickly, not only will you protect your right to dispute these transactions, you also may protect yourself from future fraud.
- When you don’t need those bank and credit card statements anymore, be sure you shred them—along with receipts, insurance statements, and credit offers you receive in the mail.
- To stop mailed credit card offers, call 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688). (Note: They will ask for your Social Security number.)
- Periodically review your credit reports from each of the three credit reporting agencies, and be on the lookout for accounts that you don’t recognize. Obtain a credit report from each agency once per year, free of charge, by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228.
- Request a “security freeze,” which prevents these agencies from releasing your credit report to third parties without your consent. Bear in mind, however, that this freeze can interfere with the timely approval of any requests you make for new loans, credit cards or other credit unless you take steps to lift the freeze. For Massachusetts residents, the fee is just $5, which will be waived if you or a spouse can prove you were a victim of identity theft. Request a security freeze by sending a written request to each of the three agencies directly.
For more detailed information on deterring, detecting, and defending against identity theft, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a Web site and publications available for just this purpose. Log on to www.consumer.gov/idtheft or call them at 1-877-ID-THEFT.