General Tips to Help Protect Yourself from Identity Theft:
Be proactive — it’s one of the best ways to fight identity theft. Here are some simple yet effective steps you can take to help reduce your chance of becoming a victim:
Protect personal information.
- Shred all unwanted personal and financial documents (mail, receipts, pay stubs, credit card offers) before throwing them out or recycling them.
- Secure your Social Security Number, account numbers, passwords and other personal information. Do not keep them on you, and don’t give out personal information over the phone, Internet, or by mail/email unless you are sure of whom you are dealing with, why the information is needed and how it will be used. Be especially wary of unsolicited requests to confirm, verify or correct personal information at the risk that your account will be closed or suspended if you fail to do so.
- Memorize your PINs (Personal Identification Numbers) and passwords; don’t share them or write them down for others to find. Be careful when creating them; avoid using birth dates, part of your Social Security Number, address, children's or spouse's names or even consecutive numbers.
- Find a safe place to store personal information, used and unused checks, credit cards and bank records in your home.
- When away from home, carry only the identification, check and credit cards you need, and make sure they are all signed.
- Avoid leaving mail in your mailbox overnight on weekends. If you plan to be away, have a trusted friend, relative, or neighbor retrieve your mail, or ask the post office to hold it until your return by calling 1-800-275-8777 and requesting a vacation hold.
- Guard your personal information at work by keeping personal identifying information, credit information, bills or receipts out of your office. Avoid disposing of these documents in your office trash.
Monitor your financial information.
- Review your credit reports carefully. Order your free credit report each year from the three major credit bureaus, or call 1-877-322-8228. You can also write: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
- Contact credit issuers about any unexplained accounts, incorrect balances and typos.
- Always keep careful records of banking and other accounts.
- Immediately contact credit issuers if you stop receiving expected bills or statements.
- Review your monthly account statements thoroughly as soon as you receive them and investigate any suspicious charges or activity.
- Report lost or stolen cards or checks immediately; review new cards or checks to make sure none have been stolen in transit.
Use precautions online.
- Choose Internet passwords that cannot be guessed easily and that use a combination of letters, numbers and special characters, such as an asterisk (*) or a pound sign (#). Change your user names and passwords regularly.
- Install anti-virus, anti-spyware, and a personal firewall on your home computer and keep them updated.
- Remember that fraudsters may intercept personal information shared over unsecured Internet connections.
Learn more ways to stay safe on the Internet.
The Security and Privacy information contained on the Virginia Commerce Bank public Web site is intended to provide general information only and does not attempt to give you advice that relates to your specific circumstances. You should consult an appropriate professional for specific advice tailored to your situation.