Identity Theft Detection, Prevention & Resolution
There are things that you can do to try to prevent identity theft and fraud, and there are red flags that may indicate there is a problem. Below you will find information about what to look for, what you can do to try to prevent it and what to do should you become a victim.
Your identity can be stolen in a variety of ways:
- Loss or theft of your wallet, purse, or credit card
- Mail theft
- Skimming information from the magnetic strip on credit or debit cards
- "Dumpster diving" through the trash
- "Shoulder surfing" -- looking over your shoulder when you are entering a PIN or password
- Scam phone calls where a stranger asks for personal or financial information
- Phishing and spyware
- Computer hacking
How Does Identity Theft Work?
Using one or more of the methods identified above, the fraudster obtains key pieces of personal information (e.g. Social Security number, driver's license number, home address, etc.) that is then used to open new bank accounts in your name, apply for mortgages, apply for credit, etc.
What Should You be Looking for?
- Unauthorized charges that appear on your checking account or credit card statement
- Accounts appearing on your credit report that you did not open
- Calls from collection agencies asking why you have not paid a bill
- Calls from financial institutions regarding accounts you did not open
- Missing bills or credit card statements that don't arrive when they are supposed to
- Unauthorized transfers or withdrawals on your bank statements
What Can You do to Try to Prevent Identity Theft?
There are several preventative steps you can take to reduce your risk of identity theft:
- Do not carry your Social Security card in your wallet.
- Do not have your Social Security number or driver's license number printed on your checks.
- Avoid giving out your Social Security number unless it is absolutely necessary.
- Beware of giving information to anyone over the telephone or the Internet unless you initiate the call.
- Shred any documents with account numbers or other personal data you are throwing out and any pre-approved credit offers, preferably with a micro-cut shredder.
- Watch for regular monthly bills that aren't delivered. Stolen mail is one way to obtain sensitive information.
- Do not leave mail for pickup at an unlocked mailbox.
- Check your credit report at least once a year to identify accounts that may have been opened in your name without your knowledge. You can get a copy of your credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com every twelve months. Members of Fifth Third Identity AlertSM and Fifth Third Identity Alert PremiumSM can access full credit report information each month from all three major credit bureaus.
- Monitor your online financial accounts frequently and check your credit card statements as soon as they arrive to ensure you made all of the charges listed.
- Never write your full credit card number on a check. Instead, write "ends in" and the last 4 digits of the credit card number.
- Sign your new debit and credit cards promptly.
- Do not keep PIN numbers attached to credit, debit or ATM cards.
- Keep your Social Security card, passport, birth certificate and other important cards and documents in a locked location.
- Protect your computer with a firewall and other security related software, and keep this software up-to-date.
- When disposing of an old computer, be sure to wipe or destroy the hard drive first, using special software designed for this purpose.
- If you are a member of a military service unit who is on active duty, consider placing an active duty alert on your credit report. The active duty alert can prevent pre-screened offers of credit and insurance being sent while you are away on active duty.
- Consider purchasing an identity theft protection service such as Fifth Third Identity AlertSM or Fifth Third Identity Alert PremiumSM to add another layer of protection for your accounts and your personal information.
What Should You do if You Become a Victim of Identity Theft?
- If you have a Fifth Third Enhanced or Fifth Third Established checking account or are an Fifth Third ID Alert member, work with a Resolution Specialist to resolve your identity theft related issues. To contact a Resolution Specialist, call 1-866-797-8451.
- Contact the financial institution(s) or the companies where the information about you has been used and let them know you are a victim of identity theft.
- Contact the credit reporting agencies to report the identity theft and request they place a fraud alert on your account. You only need to contact one. The first agency you contact will contact the other two. The credit reporting agencies are:
- www.equifax.com - 1-800-525-6285
- www.experian.com - 1-888-397-3742
- www.transunion.com - 1-800-680-7289
- Contact the police department to report the crime. Be sure to request a copy of the report.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission at www.consumer.gov/idtheft to make a report and review their helpful hints for dealing with identity theft.
- Keep good records of who you talk to, summaries of conversations and documentary evidence of the crime.