There have been a number of fraudulent emails (referred to as “phishing”) sent to individuals that claim to be from your financial institution or another financial institution requesting personal information (social security numbers, passwords, pin numbers, account numbers etc.) or verification of personal information. In some cases, the emails have stated that the account holder's online banking service has been locked, and further instructs the account holder to click on links to restore service by entering account and personal information. Red flag! Do not provide account or personal information via email.
SCNB account holders should know that the Suffolk County National Bank will not contact you via email to request this type of information on your accounts. Should you receive a fraudulent or suspicious email that appears to be from SCNB, please contact our security officer at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 631-208-2290 or contact your local branch office. Additional information regarding “phishing” and other fraudulent methods of obtaining your personal information is available under Identity Theft.
Click here for more information regarding "phishing."
Identity theft occurs when someone acquires your personal information – Social Security number, bank account number, credit card number, pin number or other personal identifying information – and uses it to commit fraud. They may open bank accounts, establish wireless service, take out loans or obtain and use credit cards in your name and leave the bills unpaid. If arrested, they give your name to the police. If they are released from custody pending an appearance in court and don’t show up, an arrest warrant is issued… in your name.
The statistics are staggering. In 2003, approximately 10 million Americans were victims of ID theft. Nearly half of these victims did not know how their personal information was stolen. But a little “self-defense” can help you avoid becoming a victim.
While stealing your wallet or pocketbook is one way to obtain your personal information, identity thieves have been known to employ other methods such as:
- Stealing your mail including bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit card solicitations, new checks and tax information.
- Going "phishing", by sending what appears to be a legitimate email (for example, from a bank,) requesting account information, passwords, social security numbers, etc. They often employ the use of bank logos, graphics and web links to seemingly legitimate web sites.
- Conducting "pretexting" by contacting you by phone or email, posing as your bank, a legitimate government agency or firm, and providing you with what seems are legitimate reasons to give them your information.
- "Dumpster diving", a term used for rummaging though your trash or the trash of businesses or dumps.
- "Skimming" by scanning your debit or credit card twice while you are making a legitimate purchase to obtain the account numbers and go on spending sprees.
- Completing a "change of address" form to direct your mail to another location. It can be months before you realize that unauthorized transactions have occurred on your accounts because your mail is going to the "new" address.
- Obtaining your credit report by posing as someone who would have a legitimate right to your information, i.e. employer, landlord, etc.
- Conducting "business record theft" by stealing files or bribing employees who have access to your files where you are a customer, employee, patient, student, etc.
- Finding personal information you share on the Internet.
- Listening in to conversations you have in public.
- Finding personal information in your home.
As with any crime, you cannot completely control circumstances that will cause you to be a victim of identity theft. However, there are precautions you can take to minimize your risk.
- Manage your personal information. Place passwords/pin numbers on your accounts, but avoid using easily available information like your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, portions of your social security number, phone number or a series of consecutive numbers. Do not record your social security or pin numbers or your passwords on any cards or on anything in your wallet or purse.
- Check to make sure your employer has security procedures in place when dealing with your employee records...including proper disposal of these records.
- Don’t give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the Internet unless you’ve initiated the contact or have confirmed the identity of the person/company you are dealing with. Identity thieves will pose as representatives of banks, government agencies and legitimate businesses...and will use phony web sites and email addresses that can look legitimate, but aren’t.
- Don’t send sensitive information to sites whose URL begins with "http". Only those with "https" or the lock icon are secure.
- Don’t carry your social security card with you or put your social security number on your driver’s license or your checks. Don’t give out your social security number to anyone unless they have a good reason for needing it. The only places you must use your social security number are on government and financial forms.
- Shred any papers or mail with confidential information such as, credit card offers, insurance documents, doctor’s bills, statements, cancelled checks...even junk mail.
- Take only the debit or credit cards you plan to use with you; cancel those you no longer use.
- Keep your personal information in a secure place in your home. Victims of identity theft often know the person who has committed the crime...such as roommates, landlords, even relatives.
- Don’t open or download files or click on hyperlinks from people you don’t know. Do not respond to emails or telemarketers who claim they will register you on the "Do Not Call" registries.
- Update your virus protection software regularly and use firewall protection on your computer.
- Be aware of when your statements and bills are mailed to you and contact those companies if you do not receive them. Check your statements and bills when you receive them to make sure there is no unauthorized activity.
- Remove credit card numbers from receipts submitted for rebate offers.
- Use a locked mailbox to send and receive mail. If you are unable to receive mail in a locked box, be sure to promptly remove your mail from the box.
- Order and check your credit reports from all three of the credit reporting agencies. You can obtain a free credit report once every 12 months by logging onto www.annualcreditreport.com
- Stay alert to the newest scams. The Identity Theft Resource Center (www.idtheftcenter.org) updates their list of the latest scams on a regular basis and contains prevention tips and other pertinent information.
Despite the best efforts and preventive actions you take, identity theft can still happen. If you do become a victim of identity theft, there are steps you can take to repair the damage and stop further fraud:
- Act quickly. If you catch it early, you can avoid major problems.
- Notify the appropriate businesses (banks, credit card companies, US Postal Service, etc), and document your actions such as phone numbers, names of people you spoke with, dates and times of calls. Follow up on all calls with written correspondence. Keep copies of this correspondence.
- Consider completing the ID Theft Affidavit available on www.consumer.gov/idtheft. Many companies will ask for it and use it to investigate the fraud.
- Close any accounts (i.e. bank, credit card, etc.) that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
- Contact the police and get the police report number. Companies may require this prior to getting their files of your transactions corrected.
- Notify the three credit reporting bureaus:
Equifax www.equifax.com To order your report, call: 800-685-1111. To report fraud, call: 800-525-6285.
Experian www.experian.com To order your report, call: 888-EXPERIAN (397-3742). To report fraud, call: 888-EXPERIAN (397-3742).
TransUnion www.transunion.com To order your report, call: 800-888-4213. To report fraud, call: 800-680-7289.
THe Federal Trade Commission (FTC) maintains a website containing a library of information and resourses to help you avoid common online scams. It discusses how to secure your computer, protect yourself from electronic scams that can lead to identity theft and what to do if you become the victim of identity theft plus a do-it-yourself guide, Taking Charge: What To Do if Your Identity is Stolen.
When dealing with identity theft, the more informed you are, the better you can protect yourself from becoming a victim or minimizing damage to your accounts if you do become a victim. The following websites contain information regarding identity theft that you may find helpful, including hotlines, victim guides, available publications, additional suggestions on how to minimize risk and other pertinent information.