Identity Theft Resources In PA
Identity theft and fraud have become a huge problem for millions of Americans, including the members of our community right here in Northern and Central PA. We created this guide to help you protect your identity, take action if you suspect fraud, and learn how to monitor your credit report on an ongoing basis. If you have questions, give us a call or visit your nearest JVB office. We are always happy to help!
How To Check If Someone Is Using Your Identity
Many victims of identity theft don’t discover it until a lot of damage has been done. At that point, it can be very costly and time-consuming to repair your accounts and credit score. That’s why early detection of identity theft is so important. Monitor your finances and credit history to screen for signs of identity theft.
- Review credit card and bank account statements. With the rise of e-statements and online account access, you may not be in the habit of sitting down with your monthly statement to reconcile your account(s). However, irregular activity on any of your accounts, such as a purchase you didn’t make, is an early sign of identity theft. The sooner you report it, the better. You can review your statements electronically or on paper; just make it a regular habit.
- Use all the resources available to monitor your account. Most financial institutions provide apps where you can easily login to see what’s happening on your account. Most allow you to login with your fingerprint or facial recognition if available. They also provide transaction alerts, low balance alerts, and other reminders that will keep you in touch with your account. These reminders can be text message alerts or emails. You will always feel in control of your financial activity when you install and use these protective services.
- Take advantage of your free credit reports. Under Federal Law, you can receive a free annual copy of your credit report from the three major companies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Order your reports today, or at the twelve-month mark from when you last ordered them. Many experts recommend that you pull your three different credit reports at different times of the year. For instance, a schedule of January--Equifax, May—Experian, and September—TransUnion, will allow you to stay on top of your credit report with better frequency without exceeding the once-per-year rule that the credit reporting agencies follow. If you see any unauthorized credit inquiries or other suspicious activity, notify the appropriate banks or companies at once.
- Keep an eye on what’s coming (and not) in the mail. If you start receiving correspondence or statements regarding credit accounts you never opened, or you suddenly stop receiving mail for legitimate accounts, you may be a victim of identity theft. Set up a free Informed Delivery account from the US Post Office to monitor your incoming mail and ensure nothing is lost or stolen.
- Take action after a data breach. If you receive notice that your information may have been compromised in a data breach, be on extra alert for a while. Consider changing your online account logins and even your debit card number. Monitor your finances even more closely than usual and follow up with anything that seems concerning.
- If you are a recipient of Social Security Benefits. Be sure to establish your own personal account at www.ssa.gov. This will allow you to see your benefits and be aware of any changes that someone may have made. Recent fraud on the recipients of social security benefits has arisen when unknown individuals have changed the address records of social security recipients and later were able to reroute social security benefits to a different financial institution. Protect yourself by establishing your account and logging in at least once monthly to monitor your account.
What To Do If Your Identity Is Stolen
Discovering identity theft is very scary, but take comfort in knowing you’re not alone. Your next step is to contact all the people who are here to help, including your financial institution(s), credit card companies, and the three major credit reporting bureaus.
- Place a fraud alert online with the three major bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. This lets lenders know you’ve been the victim of theft and they should verify your identity before extending credit in your name.
- You can also request a credit freeze, which prevents any new accounts from being opened in your name. Credit freezes can be lifted once the threat has passed and you are ready to apply for credit accounts again.
- Review your credit report. If there are any open accounts or credit inquiries you don’t recognize, contact those banks or companies immediately to report the fraud.
- File a report at your local police station. This makes the crime “official” and gives you a police report to provide to lenders when you need to dispute fraudulent charges and/or accounts.
- File an identity theft complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
- Read the complete list of resources/forms provided by the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General.
How To Protect Your Identity
Many of the steps we covered under “how to check if someone is using your identity” are also applicable as proactive action for protecting your identity. The important thing to remember is that identity theft protection should be an ongoing habit, not a one-time step. Here are some additional suggestions:
- Sign up for a Credit Monitoring service. There are plenty of options out there, with different features and price points. At JVB, we offer idLOCK Secure ID Checking accounts, which include identity theft resolution and access to credit file and identity monitoring at no additional charge (registration and activation required for credit file and identity monitoring), along with many other security features.
- Create strong, unique passwords for each of your logins. Most people have at least a few sensitive online accounts, such as online banking or utility bills. Protect your personal and financial information from identity theft by creating different passwords. If it seems like too much to remember, use a password manager. Make each password a diverse mix of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols.
- Don’t share sensitive information over a public wifi network. While free Wi-Fi at restaurants, hotels, and libraries is a great benefit, you shouldn’t use it to log in to your financial institution or credit card companies, shop online, or anything else that involves inputting sensitive personal and financial information.
- Enable two-factor authentication. Many websites now offer or even require a two-factor login, which means that you choose a way to verify your identity beyond your password, such as entering a code that was texted to you. This protects you from cybercriminals accessing your accounts simply because they stole your password.
How To Stay Educated
At JVB, we’ve been serving the people and businesses of the Juniata Valley for more than 150 years. Check out our Java with JVB event calendar - We offer workshops on a variety of financial topics, including identity theft, throughout the year. JVB also recommends the following resources for your continued education on identity theft protection:
JVB Is Your Local Partner For Secure Banking
At JVB, the security of our customers is one of our primary concerns. We offer a variety of products and services for your security and convenience, including educational sessions at JAVA with JVB, idLOCK Secure ID checking, our JVB VISA® Debit Card with fraud protection from the SecurLOCK Communicate system, the JVB Mobile App with Touch ID, and comprehensive online banking.
For more than 150 years, JVB has been meeting the financial and security needs of our customers in Centre County, Huntingdon County, Juniata County, McKean County, Mifflin County, Perry County, and Potter County. To learn more about JVB, contact us or visit a location near you in State College, Blairs Mills, McAlisterville, Mifflintown, Port Royal, Richfield, Port Allegany, Lillibridge, Burnham, Reedsville, Lewistown, Millerstown, Coudersport, and Liverpool.