Identity Theft Prevention
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft occurs when someone steals your checks, Social Security Number or other personal information, without your knowledge, to commit fraud or theft. Identity theft is the fastest growing white collar crime in the world. It could affect you or someone you know at any time and it could take months to discover you've become a victim.
Ways identity thieves may use your personal information:
- Opening new credit card accounts, using your name, date of birth and Social Security Number. When they use the card and don't pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report.
- Calling your credit card issuer and while pretending to be you, changing the mailing address on your credit card account. Then your imposter runs up charges on your account. Because your bills are being sent to the new address, you may not immediately realize there is a problem.
- Establishing cellular phone service with your personal information.
- Opening a bank account in your name and writing bad checks on that account.
Advantis considers identity theft a serious threat and continually updates security procedures to protect your information. Prevention is the only way to stop identity theft and total security is only possible with your help.
Ways to Prevent Identity Theft
- Obtain a credit report from all three credit reporting agencies at least once a year and crosscheck all accounts. Close accounts you don't use.
- In a secure place, make a list of all accounts and credit cards you have, their numbers and the phone number to call and cancel if lost or stolen.
If possible, deposit outgoing mail in post office collection boxes or at your local post office.
- Don't leave incoming mail overnight in your mailbox. If you are going on vacation, call the U.S. Postal Service to hold your mail.
- Examine new checks to make sure none were stolen during shipment and store them in a safe and secure location.
- Minimize the identification information and the number of cards you carry to only what you need. If your I.D. or credit cards are lost or stolen, notify the creditors by phone immediately and call the credit bureaus to ask that a "fraud alert" be placed in your file.
- Tear or shred your credit/debit card receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, credit offers, expired charge cards, bank checks and statements that you are discarding. Fully destroy preapproved credit lines/credit cards.
- Don't give personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the internet unless you have initiated the contact or know who you are dealing with.
- Put passwords on your credit card, credit union, bank and phone accounts. At Advantis you can add a password of your choice to your account. Just call Member Services at 503-785-2528.
- Only give out your social security number when absolutely necessary. Ask to use other types of identifiers when possible.
- Don't carry your Social Security Number, Social Security Card, Passport or Birth Certificate. Leave them in a secure place to avoid loss or theft.
- Do not leave gas credit cards (or anything else you wouldn't want stolen) in your car.
- Keep your computer turned off when not in use; a cable or DSL internet connection allows easier access to your computer.
- Pay attention to your billing cycles. Follow up with creditors if bills do not arrive on time.
- Before you reveal any personal information, find out how it will be used and whether it will be shared with others. Ask to keep your personal information confidential.
- Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine. Do both sides of each license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel. Keep the photocopies in a safe place.
Triggers That May Signal An Alert
- Multiple high dollar amount transactions taking place in a short period of time.
- Transactions with merchants who are considered high risk or suspicious.
- A transaction that takes place in a country where a large amount of fraud is occurring.
- Multiple failed attempts to enter the correct PIN.
- A pattern of spending that is completely different than what you have exhibited in the past.
Tips For Check Ordering
- The next time you order checks have only your initials (instead of first name) and last name put on them. If someone takes your checkbook, they will not know if you sign your checks with just your initials or your first name, but your bank will know how you sign your checks.
- When you are writing checks be careful what you put in the "For" line. DO NOT put credit card account numbers and if you need a reference, just put the last four numbers. This will prevent anyone who might be handling your check from having access to it.
- Put your work phone # on your checks instead of your home phone. If you have a P.O. Box, use that instead of your home address. If you do not have a P.O. Box, use your work address. Never have your SS# printed on your checks. You can add it if it is necessary.
- Pick up new checks from the Credit Union or have delivered to a post office box.
- Report lost or stolen checks immediately and properly store cancelled checks.
Advantis Protects Your Personal Information
Your privacy is our number one concern. All documents discarded at Advantis (whether personal in nature or not) are placed into locked containers daily and are shredded weekly. Materials are shredded on-site in the presence of Advantis employees to guarantee your information is destroyed.
To protect your privacy at home, purchase a personal shredder (you can choose between cross shred or strip shred) and destroy documents containing personal information such as name, address, social security number or account numbers.
What To Do If You Are A Victim of Identity Theft
Contact Advantis and any other financial institutions you use and your creditors to protect your accounts and close them if necessary. You may want to report stolen checks to the following agencies:
- National Check Fraud Service: 1-843-571-2143
- SCAN: 1-800-262-7771
- TeleCheck: 1-800-710-9898 or 503-927-0188
- CrossCheck: 1-707-685-0551
- Equifax Check Systems: 1-800-437-5120
- International Check Services: 1-800-526-5380
- ChexSystems: 1-800-428-9623
- CheckRite: 1-800-766-2748
- Privacy Council: 1-202-829-3660
Report all identity theft to the fraud division of each major credit bureau:
Consumer Fraud Division
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374
Fraud Victim Assistance
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834
National Consumer Assistance
P.O. Box 1017
Allen, TX 75013
- Report the theft to the police or sheriff in your local area. Ask the police to file a report and give you a copy. You may need this report to help correct your credit report.
- Report stolen mail to your local postal inspector: 503-279-2060.
- Report your incident to the Social Security Fraud Hotline: 800-269-0271.
- File a complaint with the FTC by contacting the FTC's Identity Theft Hotline by telephone toll free at 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338) or by mail at Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20580.
These websites contain more information and helpful brochures about preventing identity theft and what to do if you are a victim. You'll find step-by-step directions on how to report identity theft at www.ftc.gov.