Identity theft is a fast growing problem in the United States, and in 2012, it became the number one consumer complaint to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, with up to 12.6 million victims of some form of identity fraud that year.
As a precaution to protect yourself from identity theft and fraud, here are some general reminders and best practices to follow:
- Do not give out personal information over the phone or internet unless you know it is a legitimate request.
- Never give out your passwords or PIN code to anyone.
- Be sure to review account statements and activity often to ensure no fraudulent charges have occurred.
- Shred any documents that contain confidential information before they are thrown away.
If you believe your Commercial Bank account or cards have been subject to fraud, please contact us immediately at 314-434-4141.
If your wallet is lost or stolen, you must act quickly to protect yourself from identity theft or financial loss. The best way to do this is to plan ahead: make a list of all the contents before you lose it. This should include your credit and debit card numbers, insurance cards, identification, etc. It’s also helpful to have any phone numbers for the company handy as well. Keep the list in a safe place to be able to access quickly in case you need it. And be sure to never carry your social security card in your wallet.
In the event you do lose your wallet, contact all of the companies right away to cancel and reissue your cards. If your Commercial Bank Debit Card is lost or stolen, please call us right away at 314-434-4141.
Free Credit Report
Under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act), the three major credit reporting agencies must provide consumers with a free copy of their own credit report on an annual basis. Consumers should take advantage of this free offer to review each account on their credit report for potential fraud or mistakes. To order your free credit report, visit www.annualcreditreport.com
Consumers who believe they are a victim of fraud or identity theft, or have reason to believe that they may become a victim, can place a fraud alert on their credit report. This alert signals potential creditors to take extra precautions and contact the consumer before granting credit. Placing an alert on your file at one credit reporting bureau requires them to contact the remaining two bureaus to report the fraud alert as well.
To find out more information about fraud alerts, please visit the website(s) of the three major credit reporting agencies to the left.
While mobile devices are great for conducting financial transactions and shopping on the go, they can also pose a heightened risk of fraud. At Commercial Bank, we take all possible steps to ensure Mobile Banking is safe and secure by not storing any personal financial data on the phone itself. It is also protected with the same firewalls and security methods as Online Banking, including additional login steps for your safety. With this in mind, we have some simple tips to ensure your mobile banking is as safe as possible:
- Be sure to keep your device’s operating system up to date.
- Use a password protection feature and screen lock to ensure only you can access the device.
- Use caution as to what apps you download and what websites you visit.
- Don’t respond to suspicious texts or emails, even if it claims to be from your bank or credit card company.
- Keep the phone’s make and serial number handy in case it’s stolen, and consider using a remote, memory-wiping program to delete your data if this occurs.
In a world that relies more and more on computers and the internet, it is important to remember to keep your personal and financial information safe and secure online. In addition to the standard tips of keeping your anti-virus software up to date, using a firewall on your computer, and securing your wireless network, there are other things you can do to stay safe online.
Ensure that you do not open emails from unknown senders. If the email appears to be suspicious, do not open it or the attachments. Refer to our section on “Phishing & False Websites” for more information. Ensure that you are on a secure website when entering any personal information – the browser should begin with https:// – the “s” means the web connection is more secure than a normal one. Do not use the same password for all of your logins across the internet (i.e. same password for email and online banking). Also, do not use passwords or security questions that are easy to guess. With increasing information about personal lives on the internet and social media, it is becoming easier for thieves to crack passwords using information that the victim has accidentally put on the web.
If you suspect you might have entered your personal information on a fraudulent email or website, be proactive in the situation. Place a fraud alert on your credit report using the Helpful Links for the credit bureaus to the left. Monitor or even close any financial accounts that may be compromised or hacked, and change any passwords to affected email or other logins right away. For additional information and more steps you can take, use the links provided at the left.
Phishing Emails & False Websites
Con artists will often spam large numbers of consumers with the name of a reputable financial institution as the sender. However, you should not open nor reply to these emails, which can often look very legitimate and nearly identical to what a real email from the company would look like. It will often direct the recipient to click on a website to verify personal information or even respond to the email with the information.
Emails that are received in this manner are almost always phony. The website link may look legitimate, but it is likely a fake website that will collect personal information for use in identity theft. You should report the email to the Federal Trade Commission by forwarding it to email@example.com and also potentially notify the company from which the email claimed to have originated.
Commercial Bank will never blindly text or email you for your personal information.
If you receive a text or email claiming to be from Commercial Bank asking for your personal information, please contact our Customer Service at 314-434-4141 to report it.
Lottery & Inheritance Solicitations
Recent scams have evolved into postal mail and email solicitations to recipients for foreign lottery winnings or inheritance from ‘long lost relatives.’ The scam will usually involve a congratulatory letter sent to an individual explaining they have won a foreign lottery or that a distant relative recently passed away and gifted them a large sum of money. The fraudster will typically send the recipient a large check to be deposited, followed by a request to wire a portion of the proceeds back for taxes or fees.
Requests such as these are almost always a scam. The recipient who wires money away to the scammer will come to find out the check was counterfeit and will not be paid. Once the recipient has wired the money, it cannot be retrieved.
If you receive one of these letters, do not respond. You should file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/
Cashier’s Check Scams
With the rapid rise of online market places to sell things from person-to-person, there has been an increase in cashier’s check scams. Typically, this sort of scam involves a buyer offering to send you (the seller) a cashier’s check for more than your asking price, and they will typically want the transaction to be completed very quickly. When the check is deposited, it may clear your account temporarily, making it appear legitimate, but it could eventually bounce, leaving you without your money or the goods you sold.
Never accept a check for an amount greater than your asking price. If possible, ask for a check drawn on a local bank so that you can verify in person whether the check is valid and funds available for payment. If this is not possible, look up the bank’s main telephone number and call to see if you can confirm if the check is legitimate. If you have doubts about a check, ask a Teller or Personal Banker what your options are to protect yourself from financial loss.