How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

Thu, 06 Jun 2013

Did you know that in 2012, the Bureau of Justice reportsThis is a third party link. Please review the third party content guidelines for more details by clicking here. that 7% of households in the United States have experienced one or more types of identity theft? Among these households, 64.1% experienced the misuse or attempted misuse of an existing credit card account in 2010. Identity theft is not taken lightly here at Webster, and we want to inform our customers about how people go about stealing your identity, what you can do to protect yourself, and how we safeguard your information.  


What Type of Information Do Identity Thieves Want?

Identity thieves use look for this type of information to steal your identity:

  • Your name

  • Social Security number

  • Credit card number

  • Any financial account information


How Identity Thieves Steal Your Information

  • Dumpster diving – Yes, this means looking through your trash to find bills and sensitive records with your personal financial information on it.

  • Changing your address and sending your financial information to the identity thief.

  • Installing skimming devices on ATMs & PIN pads. See Kevin’s post here for more information.

  • Stealing – Good old fashioned theft of your wallet, purse, mail including pre-approved credit card offers, tax information, etc.

  • Phishing – sending false emails appearing to be from a legitimate company. You’ve probably gotten these before; they look official with a company logo, telling you that you need to click on a link to do something, like update your order, or enter your financial information. Don’t click – it’s a scam! Banks don’t ask for your financial information via email or the internet, and don’t ever give it out. If it looks suspicious to you, it could be fraudulent. If you have any concerns feel free to call Webster at 1-800-995-9995 or email us at

  • Pre-texting – using false pretenses to get personal information from financial companies, telephone companies and others. See this linkThis is a third party link. Please review the third party content guidelines for more details by clicking here. for more insight.


How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

  •  Never give out your personal information, such as account numbers or social security numbers over the telephone, through the mail, or over the Internet, unless you are the one that initiated the contact.

  • Destroy pre-approved credit card offers before throwing them out. A home shredder is the best thing to use on financial statements, receipts and old cancelled checks that are being discarded.

  • Protect Personal Identification Numbers or PIN’s and other passwords. Avoid using easily available information, such as mother’s maiden name, birth date, the last four digits of a social security number, phone number, etc. This goes for your social media usage too – don’t put too much of this type of info out there for anyone to find.

  • Carry only the minimum amount of identifying information and number of credit cards needed.

  • Pay attention to billing cycles and statements. Inquire of the bank, if a monthly bill is not received. It may mean that the bill has been diverted by an identify thief.

  • Check account statements carefully to ensure all charges, checks, or withdrawals were authorized.

  • Guard mail from theft. Do not leave bill payment envelopes in a mailbox with the flag up. Instead, deposit them in a post office collection box or at the local post office, or switch to online billpay. Promptly remove incoming mail.

  • Order copies of credit reports from each of the three major credit bureaus once a year to ensure that they are accurate.

    • Here are the phone numbers for all three:

      • Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289

      • Equifax: 1-800-525-6285

      • Experian: 1-888-397-3742


What to Do If You’re a Victim of Identity Theft

If you’re a victim of identity theft, make sure to:

  1. File a report with your local police department

  2. Call the Social Security Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271

  3. Contact the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft Hotline at 1-877-ID-THEFT (1-877-438-4338)


Click hereThis is a third party link. Please review the third party content guidelines for more details by clicking here. to go to the FTC’s identity theft guide for more helpful information.  


What We Do to Protect Your Personal Information

When you call us, we have procedures in place to protect your personal information. This may be annoying at times, but we assure you, it’s for your protection. If you think you’ve been a victim, let us know and we will red flag your account. This won’t stop your online banking bill pays or transactions, but will put your account into credit only, so only money can come in, while we stop any from going out. This is also why we only allow authorized signors on your account to authorize an address change.


Click here for more details about identity theft from our website. Please be diligent in protecting your personal information, and we will always do our part to protect your sensitive information as well. If you have any questions about identity theft, please post them in the comments below, or give us a call at 800-325-2424 or talk with us in person at your local banking center.