Preventing Identity Theft

Identity theft is a very serious crime because it not only costs the victim money, but it also costs the victim a lot of time and frustration. Additionally, you will have to monitor your personal accounts for some time after the theft occurs to make sure that the thief no longer has access. This also may require that you cancel or change all of your bank and credit accounts.

A very common way that identity thieves con their victims is through email and regular mail (modernly known as “snail mail”). Usually, you will receive an e-mail or letter stating that an unauthorized person has tried to access your account. The e-mail or letter will continue to state that in order to prevent this from happening in the future you will have to confirm your account information. If you received such a notice via regular mail, a phone number will be provided so that you can “confirm you identity.” If the message was sent via e-mail, the e-mail will contain a link for you to follow so that you can confirm your account information.

It is important to know that you should NEVER call that number or follow that link. Doing so will connect you to a thief or transfer you to a malicious website. Basically, your “confirmation” of your personal and account information is you giving all of your personal and account information to the thief. As such, the thief will then use this information to access your accounts or otherwise steal your credit.

These letters or e-mails utilized by identity thieves will allegedly come from big, national banks such as Wachovia and Bank of America, to name a few. Sometimes, you will notice that a bank, with which you do not have an account, will send you an e-mail or letter. This should be the first sign that a scam is being attempted. Be aware of this.

The most important thing to know is that your bank, or any bank for that matter, will NEVER ask you for your personal information through an e-mail, a letter, or through a phone call that was made to you. Granted, if you call your bank then you will have to give some personal information in order to confirm your identity, however, the point is that YOU made the call; you were not called by the bank.

Remember, never call the phone number given in the letter and never click on any links in the e-mail. Do not be a victim of identity theft. If you have any questions about your account, visit your local branch or call the phone number provided in your bill or account statement.