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How To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

Identity theft is the misappropriation of another person’s identity for criminal purposes and can include the misappropriation of another’s name, social security number, date of birth, driver’s license, unique biometric data such as fingerprints, or unique electronic identification numbers such as an access code or personal identification number (PIN).

For information on how to guard against identity theft and electronic scams, visit the FDIC and Federal Trade Commission websites.

Additional information regarding fraud is available through the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau:

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What should I do if I suspect misuse of my personal information?

Take action immediately and keep a record of all conversations and correspondence when you take the following steps:

  • Contact your financial institutions and credit card issuers immediately. Access to your accounts can be protected; stop payments may be issued on missing checks; personal identification numbers (PINs) and online banking passwords can be changed; and a new account can be opened, with new checks if appropriate. ATM and debit cards can also be deactivated.
  • Contact major check verification companies. Call Telecheck, Equifax or International Check Services to request they notify retailers using their databases not to accept these stolen checks, or ask your bank to notify the check verification service with which it does business.
  • File a police report. Obtain a police report from your local police department with the date, time, location, and police officer taking the report. This report will be helpful when clarifying to creditors that you are a victim of identity theft.
  • Request a copy of your credit report. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. Written communication will be required to resolve errors on credit billing statements, including charges that you have not made. Send your letter by certified mail, and request a return receipt to document what the credit bureau received and when. Request a “fraud alert” for your file and a victim’s statement asking creditors to call you before opening new accounts or changing your existing ones. In a few months, order new copies of your report to verify your corrections and changes. Learn more about managing your credit.
  • Check your mailbox. If a thief has stolen your mail they may have obtained credit cards, bank or credit card statements, pre-screened credit offers, or tax information. Make sure no one has requested an unauthorized address change, title change, PIN change or ordered new cards or checks to be sent to another address. If you suspect anyone has stolen your mail, contact your local post office and police department immediately.
  • Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Consumer Response Center to report identity theft.
  • Contact the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) if you suspect your name or social security number is being used by a thief to get a driver’s license. Consider asking the RMV to replace your social security number with a special driver’s license number.
  • Contact the Social Security Administration (SSA). Allegations that a social security number has been stolen or misused should be reported to the SSA Fraud Hotline.
  • Contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS). The USPIS is one of the federal law enforcement agencies investigating cases of identity theft. Call your local post office to locate the USPIS district office nearest you or visit their website.
  • Contact your State Attorney General’s office. Many states and local governments have passed laws related to identity theft; Massachusetts has such laws. View a list of State Attorney General Offices .

If you have any further questions or concerns regarding the protection of your financial identity, please contact us or visit any of our offices.