The cyber criminals are at it again…. This week we learned of a new scam which begins with a phone call from someone pretending to be from the Social Security office.
The scammer explains that they are going to receive an increase in their benefits; however, they need to verify some information first. They ask for their bank, account number, social security number, mother’s maiden name, etc. With this information, the scammers go online to open an online banking account and bill pay service using their information. We are thankful that our customers have seen no losses as a result of this scam to date.
Unfortunately, a social security number is a key piece of information that these criminals need to commit other identity theft.
Legitimate businesses, governmental agencies and Bank Forward will never call you and ask for your personal information. If you get a call from anyone requesting your personal information, do not give them any information and hang up. If you would like to contact the business or agency, use a number that you look up independently.
If the stolen information includes your financial accounts, contact your financial institution IMMEDIATELY. Avoid passwords that use your mother's maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your Social Security number (SSN) or your phone number, or a series of consecutive numbers.
If the stolen information includes your Social Security number, call the toll-free fraud number of any one of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies and place an initial fraud alert on your credit reports. This alert can help stop someone from opening new credit accounts in your name.
- Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com
- Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com
An initial fraud alert stays on your credit report for 90 days. When you place this alert on your credit report with one nationwide consumer reporting company, you'll get information about ordering one free credit report from each of the companies. It's prudent to wait about a month after your information was stolen before you order your report. That's because suspicious activity may not show up right away. Once you get your reports, review them for suspicious activity, like inquiries from companies you didn't contact, accounts you didn't open, and debts on your accounts that you can't explain. Check that information — like your SSN, address(es), name or initials, and employers — is correct.
If the stolen information includes your driver's license or other government-issued identification, contact the agencies that issued the documents and follow their procedures to cancel a document and get a replacement. Ask the agency to "flag" your file to keep anyone else from getting a license or another identification document in your name.
Once you've taken these precautions, watch for signs that your information is being misused. For example, you may not get certain bills or other mail on time. Follow up with creditors if your bills don't arrive on time. A missing bill could mean an identity thief has taken over your account and changed your billing address to cover his tracks. Other signs include:
Continue to read your financial account statements promptly and carefully, and to monitor your credit reports every few months in the first year of the theft, and once a year thereafter. For more information on getting your credit reports free once a year or buying additional reports, read Your Access to Free Credit Reports at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre34.shtm.
If your information has been misused, file a report about your identity theft with the police, and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.consumer.gov/idtheft.
As always, please contact us if you have any questions or concerns.