There are few crimes as devastating as Identity Theft. The effect on your time, money, and reputation can be severe, leaving you with years worth of headaches. Members Credit Union wants to make sure you are protected! The following tools can help you deter, detect, and defend your personal information.
Safeguard Your Information
Shred financial documents and paperwork with personal information before you discard them. Protect your Social Security number. Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write your Social Security number on a check. Give it out only if absolutely necessary or ask to use another identifier. Don’t give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless you know who you are dealing with. Never click on links sent in unsolicited emails; instead, type in a web address you know. Use firewalls, anti-spyware, and anti-virus software to protect your home computer; keep them up-to-date. Visit OnGuardOnline.gov and http://Consumer.ftc.gov for more information. Don’t use an obvious password like your birth date, your mother’s maiden name, or the last four digits of your Social Security number. Keep your personal information in a secure place at home, especially if you have roommates, employ outside help, or are having work done in your house.
Free Credit Reports
All residents of North Carolina are able to order a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus. You can order your free report over the internet, by phone or by mail. Only order your report from one of the three credit reporting agencies at a time so that you can receive three free reports per year. Your free credit reports will not provide your credit score.
Ordering by Internet: Log on to www.annualcreditreport.com
Ordering by Phone: Call 877-322-8228
Fraud Alerts and Extended Fraud Alerts
Fraud alerts prevent identity theft by placing an alert on a credit report to indicate that financial institutions should contact the member before opening accounts or processing loan requests. This allows the member to confirm that they are in fact requesting the account/loan.
Fraud Alert – Used if you think your personal information has been compromised, but no one has opened accounts or taken out loans in your name. Stays on your credit report for at least one year.
Extended Fraud Alert – Members can only place extended fraud alerts on their credit reports after someone has opened accounts in their name and their identity has been stolen. A police report must be filed before placement of an extended fraud alert. The extended fraud alert lasts for seven years.
Though the law requires creditors to respond to fraud alerts, there is no penalty if they do not.
North Carolina allows a member to place a freeze on their credit report. A security freeze prohibits the consumer reporting agencies from releasing the consumer’s credit report or any information from it without the express authorization of the consumer. The security freeze is designed to prevent credit, loans, and services from being approved in your name without your consent. Keep in mind, a security freeze may delay, interfere with, or prohibit the timely approval of any subsequent request or application you make regarding new loans, credit, mortgage, insurance, rental housing, employment, investment, license, cellular phone, utilities, digital signature, Internet credit card transactions, or other services, including an extension of credit at point of sale.
Monitoring Your Accounts for Irregularities
- Check all of your bank/credit union account statements and credit card statements monthly to make sure you have authorized all activity.
- Check your annual earnings statement from the social security administration, and make sure it matches the money you have earned for the year.
- Check your 401K account periodically to make sure no one has cashed out or rolled over any of your balance.
- Check any notices from the IRS which indicate that you have not paid taxes on certain earnings. This would indicate that someone is working under your social security number.
- Check your credit report for any new loans taken out in your name or new credit card accounts you did not open.