How Does it Occur?
Identity thieves may use a variety of low- and high-tech
methods to gain access to your personally identifying information.
- They get information from businesses by stealing
records or hacking into the organization's computers.
- They rummage through your trash, the trash of
businesses, or dumps in a practice known as "dumpster diving."
- They steal credit and debit card account numbers
as your card is processed by using a special information storage
device in a practice known as "skimming."
- They steal wallets and purses containing identification
and credit and bank cards.
- They steal mail, including bank and credit card
statements, pre-approved credit offers, new
checks, or tax information.
- They complete a "change of address form"
to divert mail to another location.
- They steal personal information from your home.
- They scam information from you, often through
email, by posing as a legitimate business person or government
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Ways to Prevent Identity Theft
Although no one is completely immune, you can take
action to avoid having your identity stolen. The following are a
few suggestions on how to best protect your name and your good credit:
- Carefully guard your personal information and
be selective with whom you share it. Personal information
includes such things as your name, address, phone number, driver's
license number, social security number, credit card numbers, birth
date, and mother's maiden name.
- Carry as few credit cards and forms of ID as possible.
Typically, there's no reason to carry your social security card
in your wallet.
- Keep a list or photocopies of all information
you carry in your wallet or purse. Store this information in a
- Shred documents that contain your personal information
and account numbers before you throw them away. This includes
unsolicited credit card applications.
- Don't print your driver's license or social security
number on your checks.
- Examine your credit report from each of the three
major credit-reporting agencies at least once a year.
- Never give out personal information on the phone,
through the mail or over the Internet unless you've initiated
the contact or are sure you know who you're dealing with.
- Secure personal information in your home, especially
if you have roommates, employ outside help or are having service
work done in your home.
- Deposit outgoing mail in post office collection
boxes or at your local post office, rather than in an unsecured
mailbox. Promptly remove mail from your mailbox. If you're planning
to be away from home and can't pick up your mail, call the U.S.
Postal Service at 1-800-275-8777 to request a vacation hold. The
Postal Service will hold your mail at your local post office until
you can pick it up or are home to receive it.
- Place passwords on your credit card, credit union
and phone accounts. Avoid using easily available information like
your mother's maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits
of your SSN or your phone number, or a series of consecutive numbers.
When opening new accounts, you may find that many businesses still
have a line on their applications for your mother's maiden name.
Use a password instead.
- Pay attention to your billing cycles. 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.
- Be wary of promotional scams. Identity thieves
may use phony offers to get you to give them your personal information.
- When ordering new checks, pick them up at the
Credit Union, rather than having them sent to your home mailbox.
ID Theft Protection and Remediation Services
Northwest Resource believes in providing the resources you need to protect your financial future. So, we are pleased to offer identity fraud protection and remediation services for as little as $4.95 per month. The IDSafeChoice service includes the following protection and recovery services:
- Fully-Managed Identity Recovery - Dedicated certified Recovery Advocate will work on your behalf to restore your identity.
- Member Education - Dedicated website updated with the latest identity theft news, scams legal and regulatory updates, and prevention tips.
- Monthly Identity Theft Newsletter - A monthly newsletter with the latest news on identity theft and the latest scams
- Credential Vault - Securely store information for up to 50 credentials such as credit cards, checking accounts, savings accounts, personal loan information, passport, retirement accounts, and more!
- Lost Document Replacement - Guard against the unexpected loss of your critical information or documents commonly carried in your purse or wallet.
- Expense Reimbursement - Receive reimbursement on out of pocket expenses incurred by recovering your identity.
- Internet Surveillance - Proactive tool used to identify thieves trading your personal information in high risk areas of the internet, including black market and social networking sites.
Packages including credit report monitoring are also available. To learn more and enroll in the identity fraud protection and remedy service, please click here.
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What to do if You Are a Victim of
If you suspect that your personal information has
been used to commit fraud or theft, take the following steps right
- Contact the fraud departments of each of
the three major credit bureaus below and tell them you have been
a victim of identity theft. Ask them to place a “fraud alert”
in your file, as well as a “victim statement.”
- Equifax – 1-800-525-6285
- Experian – 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)
- TransUnion – 1-800-680-7289
- Contact Northwest Resource, any other financial
institutions you use, and your creditors to protect your accounts
and close them if necessary. You may want to report stolen checks
to the following agencies:
- National Scan Check Fraud Service: 1-843-571-2143
- SCAN: 800-710-262-7771
- TeleCheck: 800-710-9898
- CrossCheck: 707-685-0551
- Equifax Check Systems: 800-437-5120
- International Check Services: 800-526-5380
- ChexSystems: 800-428-9623
- CheckRite: 800-766-2748
- Privacy Council: 202-829-3660
- File a report with your local police or
the police in the community where the identity theft took place.
Keep a copy of the report because you may need it to validate
your claims to creditors.
- File a complaint with the FTC online at the FTC identity theft site or by calling 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4388).
- Report stolen mail to your local postal inspector
- Report your incident to the Social Security Fraud
Hotline at 800-269-0271.
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