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How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

Identity theft occurs when a person's identity is stolen for the purpose of opening credit accounts, stealing money from existing accounts, applying for loans, or committing crimes.  Here are a few guidelines that will make it more difficult for fraud artists to target you:

  • Don't put your Social Security number, driver's license number or other unnecessary information on your checks.
  • Don't disclose information to strangers on the Internet, by telephone, or through the mail.
  • Shred or destroy credit card offers and other documents that contain personal information.
  • Examine statements for unauthorized charges.

Avoid E-Mail Fraud and "Phishing"
What's phishing?  Phishing is a form of fraud that uses authentic-looking e-mail to convince people to send their credit card numbers, bank account information, Social Security numbers, passwords, and other confidential and private information to an unknown person.  In the e-mail, the perpetrator uses various means to convince customers that they are receiving a legitimate message from someone whom the customer may already be doing business with, such as a bank.  Techniques such as a false "from" address or the use of seemingly legitimate bank logos, Web links, and graphics may be employed to mislead the customer.  Here are few tips that will make it more difficult for fraud artists to target you:

  • Never send confidential or financial information in an e-mail message. Peabody State Bank will never request confidential information through e-mail. 
  • Don't click Web links in suspicious e-mails.
  • Never enter confidential or financial information in an online form that you accessed from a Web link in a suspicious e-mail.
  • Don't trust that a message is from whom it appears to be from. The "From" address in an e-mail message is easily forged.
  • Contact the Bank that the message appears to be from if you receive an e-mail asking for private or confidential information.

What to Do if You've Become a Victim of Identity Theft
Identity thieves can cause a lot of damage in a short amount of time.  The most important thing you can do if someone steals your identity is to act quickly.  

1. Report the theft to the three major credit reporting agencies:
Equifax

  • Order a credit report: 1-800-685-1111
  • Report fraud: 1-800-525-6285

Experian

  • Order a credit report: 1-888-397-3742
  • Report fraud: 1-888-397-3742

TransUnion

  • Order a credit report: 1-800-916-8800
  • Report fraud: 1-800-680-7289

2.  Notify Peabody State Bank and ask us to flag your account and contact you regarding any unusual activity.

3.  Notify the issuers of the credit cards you carry.  If unauthorized charges appear on your legitimate credit cards, your address has been changed, or unauthorized cards have been issued in your name file a complaint with the credit card issuer.

4.  File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, www.ftc.gov

5.  Contact your local police department to file a criminal report. 

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