Identity theft is a serious crime. It occurs when someone uses your name, social security number, credit or debit card, bank account numbers or any other personal information without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes. The damage caused by identity theft is very serious, including victims being denied loans and refused job opportunities.
Anyone can become a victim of identity theft. There are many different methods an identity thief can use to get access to your personal information. Listed below are a few of them:
They may steal your purse or wallet.
They may steal your mail, including bank and credit card statements, credit card offers, new checks and tax information.
They may complete a "change of address" form to divert your mail to another location.
They may get your credit reports by abusing their employer's authorized access to them, or by posing as a landlord, employee, or someone else who may have a legal right to access your report.
They may rummage through your trash, the trash of businesses, or public trash dumps in a practice known as "dumpster diving."
They may obtain the information from businesses by stealing records or information while they're on the job.
They may use a computer to hack the information through a business's computer database.
There are also more technologically advanced methods that thieves have developed to obtain your personal information. Some of these include:
Skimming - when your credit or debit card numbers are captured through an information storage device attached fraudulently to an ATM machine or point of sale swipe pad.
Phishing - when you are contacted by phone or email from someone posing as a representative from a legitimate company claiming to have a problem with your account and asking you for your help in confirming your personal information.
Cell Phone Pictures - when someone uses their cell/video phone to film you using your debit or credit card so that they can obtain your name, card number and PIN.
E-mailing account information: Never email account information such as your account number or PIN. Email is not a secure form of communication.
Making purchases online: Prior to making purchases online, be sure that the site has built-in security features to protect your account information. All reputable merchant sites use encryption technology to protect your private data from being read by others as you conduct an online transaction. Look for signs of security such as a padlock in the status bar at the bottom of the browser window, a web address that begins with https://, or the words Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). These signs indicate that only you and the merchant can view your payment information.
Using a public computer: When using a public computer to shop online, always remember to log off and completely close the browser session. All it takes for someone to view your information is to simply click the “back” button.
Protect your information: Implement antispyware, antivirus protection and antivirus software updates on your computer as soon as they are available. Only use a computer that has a firewall in place.
Sign up for MasterCard Secure Code and Verified by Visa: These are free services that further protect you during online purchases. They allow you to choose a password that will be asked of you when making an online purchase. When you shop at participating merchants, the password is required before the card is accepted as payment.
Contact your bank: Signature Bank recommends you contact us at 419-841-7773 any time you plan to travel outside your normal spending area. Notifying us in advance allows us to note your travel route and destination to avoid denying transactions in the event you are traveling in areas of the country or abroad that are considered high-fraud areas.
Carry at least two cards at all times: We recommend that you carry at least two cards with you at all times. This is important in the event that your card is not accepted by a certain merchant, or if it is blocked, stolen or misplaced.
Keep some cash on hand at all times: Carry enough cash for a day’s safety net in the event that you have problems with your card.
Daily Spending Limits: Check with Signature Bank to determine if your card is subject to any daily spending or cash withdrawal restrictions. Also keep in mind that hotels will hold funds on your debit card, thus making less money available to you.
International Transaction Fees: Your Signature Bank VISA and/or MasterCard can be used internationally. There is a fee that is charged by VISA and MasterCard on every international transaction. Please refer to your card or account disclosure for specifics.
Customer Service Contacts: Keep your Visa/MasterCard account number and the lost/stolen customer service contact telephone number in a safe place (separate from your wallet or handbag).
Review Statements: It is recommended that you review your statements when you return. Go through them carefully and contact Signature Bank immediately if you detect any suspicious or incorrect charges.
Verify all transactions on your card account often: Report unauthorized transactions to the bank immediately.
How Signature Bank will monitor card activity: We review transactions and may call you if we detect an unusual spending pattern or suspicious transaction. In addition, if transactions look fraudulent we may block the card from use until we confirm the activity with you.
Fraud Monitoring System: Signature Bank has a 24-hour fraud monitoring system working on our behalf to monitor transactions on your account. You may receive a call from them during or after business hours to verify transactions only, they should not ask for any personal information. If they leave a message regarding transactions on your card, please be sure to call them back (debit card at 800-327-8622 or credit card at 866-374-6975) or contact Signature Bank (Monday – Friday from 8:30 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.) at 419-841-7773 to verify the validity of the transactions. Your card may be temporarily blocked until the transactions can be verified.
Your contact information: Be sure Signature Bank has up-to-date telephone numbers and emails in our system to contact you.
Watch your surroundings: If the machine is poorly lit or in a hidden area, consider using another machine.
Guard your PIN: Be alert for suspicious activity. Always guard your PIN and transaction amount, and immediately cancel your transaction and leave if you see something suspicious. Guard your personal space when using an ATM or any other PIN-based terminal. Cell phones contain cameras and video capabilities that thieves may use by getting to you when you are using an ATM.
Keep your card ready: Avoid counting cash or rummaging through personal items while standing at the ATM.
Be safe at the drive-through ATM: When using a drive-through ATM, lock car doors and close windows.
Take your receipt: Always take your receipt. It contains personal information that could be helpful to thieves.
Be aware of suspicious items on the ATM: Watch for additional card skimming devices and/or cameras that may have been added to the machines. If you believe a machine has been tampered with, DO NOT use the machine. Instead, contact the phone number displayed on the machine to report the issue.