Identity Theft

Do you know how to protect your transactions from consumer fraud and identity theft?

The term identity theft doesn’t really describe bank fraud. Here’s a real case of identity theft. Jay and Helen have debit cards that link to a joint account. Jay’s reviewing his debit card transactions when he notices an out–of-state charge for gas. It was on his card, not Helen’s. Even though it was 1:00 am in the morning, Jay notified his bank. His card is immediately canceled and a new one was sent out to him.

In this case, Jay and Helen will not be responsible for the amount of fraudulent charges charged to their account. Banks have different policies and it’s up to you to find out what type of fraud protection your bank offers. There are federal guidelines that apply if your debit/credit card number is stolen. If your debit card is stolen and used without the PIN you have 60 business days to report the fraud. However, you are paying for the fraud because it’s coming directly out of your checking account until you report it and it gets fixed.

If your personal PIN and card are stolen, you have 2 business days to report the problem and your liability is limited to $50 of unauthorized charges. After two days, your responsibility could rise to $500. Best practice: Notify the bank of any fraud the moment you discover it.

As a good practice, do not give out personal information over the telephone such as your:

  • Social security number
  • Drivers license number
  • Credit card information
  • Debit card information (never give out your PIN number)

In person:

  • When filling out applications with personal information, make sure there is not a piece of paper under the application that might capture an indention.
  • Never say your social security number out loud. Simply write it down and hand it to the person who needs it. Take the paper back and take it with you and shred it or tear it into tiny pieces.
  • Never fax your personal information.
  • When online, make sure that you are on a secure site before you fill out personal information.