According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), identity theft is the fastest-growing crime in America. The FTC estimates that as many as 9 million people will have their identity stolen each year. Identity theft occurs when a thief uses another person's personal identifying information (Ex. social security number, account number, etc.) with the intent of conducting fraud. This can result in unauthorized charges, bank fraud, government documentation fraud, lease/rental agreements, employment, medical services, and even criminal conduct. The damage can be alarming, including damage to your credit history, personal reputation, and financial duress, and in more rare instances, a criminal record.
Thieves can steal your identity in different ways. Account Take Over is when thieves obtain your personal information, and in many cases, change the official mailing address at the bank or with your existing creditor. Once this has been accomplished, the thief has access to the account for a period of time in which they can access funds, make cash advances, purchases, and even order or create fraudulent checks. Credit Take Over occurs when a thief obtains an individual's personal information and uses this information to apply for new credit. This can involve opening a loan or credit card account using the personal identifying information.
Thieves use various techniques to acquire your personal information:
Stealing is the most common source of acquiring information. Thieves may steal your credit or debit card, mail, wallet/purse, or personal information they find in your home. They may simply use information they acquire by looking over your shoulder (shoulder surfing) or by gathering information from various sources online.
Dumpster Diving occurs when someone sorts through the trash of your home or business looking for documents, bills, credit card pre-approvals, or other paperwork that might contain personal identifying information.
Social Engineering occurs when a thief engages others, with or without their knowledge, to obtain information or to gain access to individuals’ account information or personal identifying information. The thief may abuse access privileges at their work, manipulate someone else to obtain information for their benefit, or they may resort to conning or trickery to get someone to release information. Techniques can vary from simple pretext calling to more elaborate forms including diversion theft, phishing, interactive voice response, baiting (Ex. malware), virus hoaxes, or cracking websites.
Card Skimming occurs when someone uses a small electronic device to swipe and store your credit card number. The card information is then replicated or produced on another card for use.
Phishing is an attempt by thieves to acquire information by pretending to be a financial institution, government agency (Ex. IRS), law enforcement official, or credit card company. Thieves use sophisticated telephone calls, emails, and pop-up messages in a clever attempt to trick you into giving up or verifying information. In some instances you may even think you are making a legitimate purchase or upgrade online, when in fact, the thief is actually using advanced trickery to record your keystrokes in an attempt to acquire your credit card number.
Education and awareness are your best tools of defense. However, there are recommendations that may prevent you from being targeted:
Pinnacle Bank will never request account information, verification or confirmation from you via email.
Pinnacle Bank continues to identify and monitor the latest forms of fraud and scams. If you have questions, if you believe you have compromised your personal identifying information or if you believe you have been a victim of identity theft; contact an Identity Theft Advocate at Pinnacle Bank!