Identity theft is a serious crime that costs American consumers billions of dollars each year. It occurs when someone uses your personal information, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.
Although you can't entirely control whether you will become a victim of identity theft, there are precautions you can take to minimize the risk. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation's consumer protection agency, encourages consumers to Deter, Detect and Defend to help prevent identity theft.
Skilled identity thieves use a variety of methods to steal personal information, including:
- Dumpster Diving. They rummage through trash looking for bills or other documents with your personal information on it.
- Skimming. They steal credit/debit card numbers by processing your card with concealed devices.
- Phishing. They pretend to be financial institutions or companies and make calls, send spam or initiate pop-up messages that prompt you to reveal your personal information.
- Changing Your Address. They divert your billing statements to another location by completing a "change of address" form.
- "Old-Fashioned" Stealing. They steal wallets and purses; mail, including bank and credit card statements; pre-approved credit offers; and new checks or tax information. They steal personnel records from their employers, or bribe employees who have access.
Identity theft can cost you time and money. When personal information is compromised, your credit can be destroyed and the recovery process can take years. Deter identity thieves by safeguarding your information.
- Shred financial documents and paperwork with personal information before you discard them.
- Protect your Social Security number. Don't carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write your Social Security number on a check. Give it out only if absolutely necessary in a secure manner, or ask to use another identifier.
- Don't give out personal information on the phone, online or through the mail unless you know who you are dealing with.
- When accessing or sharing personal information online or through a mobile device, first ensure that the network connection is secure.
- Never click on links sent in unsolicited emails. Instead, confirm the web address on your own, then type it directly into your browser window. Use up-to-date firewalls, anti-spyware, and anti-virus software to protect your personal computer or laptop. Visit www.onguardonline.gov for more information.
- Don't use an obvious password like your birth date, your mother's maiden name, or the last four digits of your Social Security number.
- Keep your personal information in a secure place at home, especially if you have roommates, employ outside help, or are having work done in your house.
- Detect suspicious activity by routinely monitoring your financial accounts and billing statements.
- Be alert to signs that require immediate attention:
- Bills that do not arrive as expected
- Unexpected credit cards or account statements
- Denials of credit for no apparent reason
- Calls or letters about purchases you did not make
- Inspect your credit report.
- Credit reports contain information about you, including what accounts you have and your bill paying history. The law requires the major nationwide consumer reporting companies - Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion -to give you a free copy of your credit report each year if you ask for it.
- Visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1.877.322.8228, a service created by these three companies, to order your free credit reports each year.
- You also can write:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
Defend against identity theft as soon as you suspect it.
- Place a "Fraud Alert" on your credit reports, and review the reports carefully. The alert tells creditors to follow certain procedures before they open new accounts in your name or make changes to your existing accounts. The three nationwide consumer reporting companies have toll-free numbers for placing an initial 90-day fraud alert; a call to one company is sufficient:
Experian: 1.888.EXPERIAN (397.3742)
- Placing a fraud alert entitles you to free copies of your credit reports. Look for inquiries from companies you haven't contacted, accounts you didn't open, and debits on your accounts that you can't explain.
- Close accounts. Close any accounts that have been tampered with or established fraudulently.
- Call the security or fraud departments of each company where an account was opened or changed without your okay. Follow up in writing, with copies of supporting documents.
- Use the ID Theft Affidavit at www.ftc.gov/idtheft to support your written statement.
- Ask for verification that the disputed account has been closed and the fraudulent debits discharged.
- Keep copies of documents and records of your conversations about the theft.
- File a police report. File a report with law enforcement officials to help you with creditors who may want proof of the crime.
- Report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission. Your report helps law enforcement officials across the country in their investigations.
By Phone: 1.877.ID.THEFT (438.4338) or TTY, 1.866.653.4261
By Mail: Identity Theft Clearinghouse
Federal Trade Commission
Washington, DC 20580
ATM/Debit Card Security
Safeguarding your credit and debit cards
Using credit and debit cards is a convenient way to pay in person, over the phone, by mail, or online. To keep the power of your credit and debit cards from falling into the wrong hands, here are some simple steps you can take to ensure your information stays secure.
- Treat your cards and your PIN like your house keys. Never let them out of your sight, not even for a moment.
- Choose a PIN that isn't obvious to others, and don't write it on or near your card.
- When keying in your PIN, be sure no one is watching.
- Do not discard ATM or credit card receipts in a public place.
- Do not use a credit or debit card for identification, and never write a card account number on a check.
- Keep good records, and review account statements promptly and thoroughly.
- Guard your account numbers.
- If you see a questionable transaction on a statement, immediately notify the card issuer.
- Never give your credit card numbers to unsolicited callers. If you're uncertain, ask for more information by mail.
- Before disposing of card receipts or statements, destroy areas where account numbers are visible. It's best to shred all documents with personal information before disposing of them.
- Keep information about all your card accounts in a secure place, so you can act quickly if one is lost or stolen.
- Get a copy of your credit report once a year from each of the three national credit bureaus and check carefully for discrepancies.
- Firewalls and other software can protect your computer from viruses and other menaces, but be on guard against questionable websites and email scams designed to trick you into disclosing sensitive financial or personal information.
- Turn off your computer when you're not using it, even if you have antivirus and firewall software.
- Be aware that banks and other legitimate businesses never email customers asking for passwords or updated information.
- Never click on a link in a suspicious email. Instead, confirm the web address on your own, then type it directly into your browser window.
- Before making an Internet purchase, make sure the merchant is reputable by locating an image of an "unbroken key" or "closed lock" security icon in the corner of your browser window.
- Change passwords and PINs periodically.
If your card is ever lost or stolen, or if you suspect card fraud…
- If your card was stolen or you believe you are the victim of card fraud, immediately call the police as well as the card issuer.
- Remember, your date of birth and Social Security number are not stored on your credit card. So, if your Social Security card or other personal information is lost or stolen, call the police and the Social Security Administration.
- Contact the three national credit bureaus immediately. They can place a "Fraud Alert" in your file, which lets banks and merchants know there's a problem.
- Check your card and bank statements diligently until the problem is completely resolved.
- Request copies of your credit report from all three national credit bureaus and check them thoroughly. (If you have already requested free copies of your credit reports during the same calendar year, there may be a charge.)
To contact the credit bureaus:
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
P.O. Box 949
Austin, TX 75013-0949
Allen, TX 75013-0949
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
Automated Teller Machine (ATM) Safety Precautions
- Be sure to close the entry door completely upon entering and exiting. Do not permit any unknown persons to enter after regular banking hours.
- Always use a well lit ATM.
- At a drive-up facility, make sure all the car doors are locked and that your windows are closed with the exception of the driver's window.
- Place withdrawn cash securely upon your person before exiting the ATM. Count your cash after you are in the safety of your car, home or other secure area.
- Protect the secrecy of your personal identification number (PIN). Do not write your PIN where it can be discovered. Never lend your ATM card to someone or tell them your PIN.
- Be alert and aware of your surroundings. Look out for suspicious activity near the ATM. If you are concerned with the security in the ATM facility, please contact the bank's security department at 860.435.9801. Please call the police if emergency assistance is needed.
- For your safety, the activity of the ATM facility may be recorded by a surveillance camera or cameras.
Enjoy added security online with MasterCard® SecureCode™ and Verified™ by Visa®
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To choose your own SecureCode™, follow the simple steps, or log on directly at www.mastercard.com/securecode.
Enroll Now in Verified™ by Visa®, and follow the simple steps.
Seven Steps for Safe Computing
With Internet access, the world is at your fingertips. Make purchases, stream movies, reserve a hotel room, download music, check your account balance or access your workplace all from a remote location of your choice.
The flip-side is that the Internet — and the anonymity it affords — can give online scammers, hackers, and identity thieves access to your computer and the personal information it holds.
With awareness as your safety net, you can reduce the risk of an Internet mishap. Being on guard while online helps you protect your computer, your information and even yourself. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation's consumer protection agency, encourages consumers to adopt these seven security practices.
- Protect your personal information. It's valuable.
- Know who you're dealing with.
- Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, as well as a firewall, and update them regularly.
- Be sure to set up your operating system and web browser software properly, and update them regularly.
- Protect your passwords.
- Back up important files.
- Learn who to contact if something goes wrong online.
OnGuardOnline.gov provides more practical tips to help you secure your computer, protect your personal information and defend against Internet fraud.
Reporting Lost or Stolen Bank Cards and Checks
Your security is important to us. Please reach out to us if your cards or checks are lost or stolen, or to report suspicious activity.
During business hours: 860.596.2444
After business hours: 800.264.5578
Check or Checkbook
Or visit your local branch.
VISA® Credit Card
Consumer VISA® Card: 800.558.3424
Business VISA® Card: 866.552.8855
Salisbury Bank will never request you send personal information via email. If you encounter a suspicious email or website that says it's from Salisbury Bank, do not respond to it.
Forward suspicious emails and websites:
Only suspicious emails and websites should be sent to this email address.
For service requests and all other inquiries:
Use our secure Contact Us link.
Or call 860.435.9801