With your debit or credit card information potentially compromised, you’re probably anxious about the possibility of identity theft. This form of crime has been growing quickly, and it is a real threat. That doesn’t mean we should panic. It simply means we should add some precautions into our routines just like fastening your seatbelt or locking your front door. Here are a few things that will help:
Monitor Your Financial Accounts
You should monitor your accounts and statements regularly. Use online banking to see what activity there has been on your accounts. If you need help getting onto TruChoice’s online banking, just call or stop in and we’ll help. We also have TruAlerts available online that will send you an e-mail when your balance reaches a certain level or when checks clear.
Review Your Credit Report
Any new lines of credit, financial accounts, or loans opened in your name will appear on your credit report. Checking the accuracy of your credit report regularly will help you catch identity theft early which will help you control the damage.
Financial institutions, employers, insurance companies and landlords make decisions about you based on your credit report. It’s a good idea to know what they’re looking at. As a TruChoice member, a Financial Services Representative will review your credit report with you annually at no cost. You can call us at (207) 772-0808 to make the request.
Also, the law allows you to receive a free copy of your credit report once each year, so you can review it yourself a second time. To receive a copy of your report, requests should be sent to the three major credit reporting agencies, also known as credit bureaus. Each credit bureau may have different information. Therefore it is important to obtain your credit report from each of the credit bureaus.
Report Suspected Fraud Promptly
If you see any unusual activity on an account, you should contact the financial institution immediately. Use the phone numbers and addresses listed in the 'If Something Happens' section to report errors or suspected fraud on your credit report to the credit bureaus.
Consider Freezing Your Credit Report
Maine law allows you to place a security freeze on your credit report. When a freeze is in place, a lender will be told that it cannot see your credit file because you have a freeze on it. Identity thieves can be prevented from opening accounts in your name if you have placed a security freeze on your credit file.
Your credit report, though frozen, can still be viewed by you, current creditors, and those pesky junk mail marketers. To place a security freeze on your credit file you must send a request, in writing, to the three major credit reporting agencies by certified mail.
If you are a victim of identity theft and have reported the crime to law enforcement, the customary fee for the security freeze will be waived. The credit reporting agency will place the freeze within 5 business days after receiving your request. Within 10 days of the freeze, you will receive a confirmation that your credit report has been blocked and you will be provided with a personal identification number. You can remove or temporarily suspend the freeze by contacting the credit reporting agencies. You will need to supply proper identification including the password that was provided to you by the credit reporting agencies. The freeze will be lifted within 3 business days of receiving your request.
If Something Happens
- Notify the police. Complete an Identity Theft Affidavit
- Notify the financial institution and request the account be closed. Send a copy of the police report and Identity Theft Affidavit
- Place a fraud alert with the credit bureaus
- Freeze your credit report
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at:
Federal Trade Commission
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington DC 20580
- Keep records of everything involved in your efforts to clear up
fraud, including copies of written correspondence and records of telephone calls.