Identity theft is when an unscrupulous person (criminal) assumes the identity in some form of an innocent victim. Despite the efforts of law enforcement, Identity Theft is becoming more sophisticated and the number of new victims is growing alarmingly. In general, consumers are protected against liability for unauthorized accounts or transactions under federal and state law and by financial industry practices. However, innocent victims of Identity theft sometimes do suffer losses. And if the crime is not detected early people may face months or years cleaning up the damages to their reputation and credit rating, and sometimes they loose out on loans, jobs and other opportunities in the meantime. The evolution of Identity theft includes the spread of fraudulent ''phishing'' e-mails. These are unsolicited e-mails purportedly from a legitimate source, perhaps a bank, utility company, well-known merchants, your Internet service provider or even a trusted government agency such as the FDIC or other regulatory agency attempting to trick you into divulging personal information.
Identity Theft can affect consumers in many ways, but there are also many ways to keep your identity from being ''hijacked'' and to assist you if you been a victim of it:
- Protect your Social Security number (SSN), credit card and debit card numbers, PINs (personal identification numbers), passwords and other personal information.
- Protect your incoming and outgoing mail.
- Keep your financial trash ''clean''. Shred sensitive financial documents instead of discarding them in the trash.
- Keep a close watch on your bank account statements and credit card bills.
- Exercise your new rights under FACTA to review your credit record and report fraudulent activity.
The term ''phishing'' as in fishing for confidential information refers to a scam that encompasses fraudulently obtaining and using an individual's financial information. Phishing is part of identity theft that is the fastest growing crime in the U.S. This is how phishing occurs:
- A consumer receives an e-mail that appears to originate from a financial institution, government agency, or other well-known reputable entity.
- The message describes an urgent reason you must ''verify'' or ''re-submit'' personal or confidential information by clicking on a link embedded in the message.
- The provided link appears to be the Web site of the financial institution, government agency or other well-known reputable entity, but in ''phishing'' scams, the Web site belongs to the person or entity perpetrating the scam.
- Once inside the fraudulent Web site, the consumer may be asked to provide personal information such as Social Security numbers, account numbers, passwords or other information used to identify the consumer, such as the maiden name of the consumer’s mother or the consumer’s place of birth.
- When the consumer provides the information, those perpetrating the fraud can begin to access consumer accounts or assume the person’s identity.
Financial institutions are primary candidates to be used by criminals to perpetrate various ''phishing'' schemes. It is important to note that International Finance Bank will never ask for personal or confidential information in this manner.
If you suspect that an e-mail or Web site associated with International Finance Bank is fraudulent, please report this information to us immediately. If you see that our Web site looks different or unusual, contact us to confirm that you have not landed on a COPYCAT Web site set up by criminals. You can also contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov), a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center.
If you suspect that you have been a victim of identity theft, perhaps because you submitted personal information in response to a suspicious, unsolicited e-mail or you see unauthorized charges on your credit card or account statement, immediately contact us and, if necessary, close existing accounts and open new ones. Also contact the police and request a copy of any police report or case number for later reference. In addition, call the major credit bureaus (Equifax at 800-525-6285, Experian at 888-397-3742 and TransUnion at 800-680-7289) to request that a fraud alert be placed on your credit report.
You may access the FDIC Web site at www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/alerts for additional information and alerts.