Ask Our Experts: What To Do If Identity Theft Happens To You



Webinar - Ask Our Experts: What To Do If Identity Theft Happens to You

This transcript has been taken from a live webinar and edited for clarity and readability. 



Christina (Host):

Thank you so much for joining us today for Ask our Experts: Identity Theft - What To Do If It Happens To You. Today, we will be talking to Charles. Charles is Copper State Credit Union’s Risk and Compliance manager, as well as our compliance officer. He has several impressive certifications, including CUCE – Credit Union Compliance Expert, NCCO – National Certified Compliance Officer, and a BSACS – Bank Secrecy Act Compliance Specialist. He has so much experience in the industry – Charles has been with Copper State CU for about two years now, with just about 25 years of experience in the financial industry altogether. You are certainly the person I want to be getting financial advice from, especially with such a serious topic as identity theft.
But to start us off, how about some fun things about you, Charles - you are a big sports fan, specifically live sporting events, right? And you were a football coach for 20 years?

Charles (Risk and Compliance Manager):

Yes, I coached youth football for 20 years and really enjoyed it. And yes - I can't wait to get out to Cardinals Stadium and root on our Cardinals as well. And go Suns! Thank you Christina for that wonderful introduction and I’m excited to be here to talk about this important topic.


What is Identity Theft? 



Charles (Risk and Compliance Manager):
Identity theft is when someone steals your personal information and uses it without your permission. And there are several different types of identity theft and they can all affect a person differently.


What are the different types of identity theft?


Charles (Risk and Compliance Manager):
They can include account takeover, usually done with an individual's online accounts, their debit cards, or their credit cards. Driver's license theft, mail theft, online shopping, social security number theft, senior or child identification thefts, medical identity theft, etc. I'd say that those are probably the most common forms of identity theft that we're seeing in these times. It’s forever evolving, too.


Can you give us an example of identity theft?

Charles J. (Risk and Compliance Manager):
A common one is tax fraud. Let's say Jane gets her social security number purchased on the dark web for just a few dollars. The perpetrator then visits, verifies that she has not filed her recent tax return, and then files a tax return pretending to be Jane. Then a month later, Jane files her taxes, anticipating a return, only to find out that her taxes have already been filed and her refund has already been disbursed. Terrible scenario, right? It's important to note that the more information the perpetrator has, the more success they have. So, there's a good possibility that the perpetrator had more than just Jane's social security number. It's likely they had her date of birth as well as her place of employment, and maybe even her residential information.

Once a perpetrator has one piece of information, it's easier for them to get more. They use one piece of stolen info to make them seem more legitimate, then try to get more, and do more damage.

Because of today's technology and the internet, our personal information is more at risk than ever before and can become available to criminals in a variety of ways, as they're constantly looking for consumers who are uninformed or who have let their guards down. So we need to always stay vigilant.




How does ID theft happen?


Charles J. (Risk and Compliance Manager):
There's a number of ways. It could be due to physical theft. For example, stealing our credit cards or our mail. Or placing skimmers into the gas pumps' card readers, stealing our wallets, our checkbooks. People will get solicitations in the mail and then fill out the information and then submit back and it’s a total scam.


Other ways they actually steal our information is by phishing and malware - for example, we open up an email and click on an attachment or link and make ourselves vulnerable. Particularly, be careful when we access our emails through our phones.


Tell me about data breaches. Does that have anything to do with identity theft?


Charles J. (Risk and Compliance Manager):
Absolutely. Let's say for example, you accessed an online website and you made numerous purchases with that particular company. And then someone actually breaches the security of that particular company. At that point, your information could be exposed and then sold, or someone could actually pretend to be you and do a lot of damage to your credit history. And unfortunately, that's something you don't have any control over. That was the company's security issue that ended up putting you at risk. 


What are ID thieves doing with that personal information once they have it? 


Charles J. (Risk and Compliance Manager):

There’s usually some monetary benefit. Typically they pretend to be you and try to make money at your expense. They apply for loans, buy things with your money and have no intention of paying it back, they’ll deposit fake checks and withdraw the cash. This can wreak havoc on your credit because it looks like you are the one doing all of this damage, when really it’s the person who stole your identity.




Has my identity been stolen if I see an unfamiliar charge on my credit card?


Charles J. (Risk and Compliance Manager):
There's always that possibility. So, once you identify the transaction and determine that it’s unauthorized, you should immediately begin searching for other suspicious activity on all of your accounts. Then take the necessary precautions to protect yourself. Don't just assume that it was a one-time deal and stop worrying about it after you close that particular credit card.

Some steps you can take include:

-Monitor your credit report
-Keep an eye on your credit score
-Watch all your bank accounts and credit cards carefully
-Set up fraud alerts (usually a text or email sent to you)
Change your passwords often
-Use strong passwords and don't recycle them. If you repeat a password on 5 sites, and just one of them gets hacked or breached, then your information is compromised on every site you use that password on. If someone that's attempting fraudulent activity on you gets a hold of one password, they will go to all of your other accounts to see if that password is successful and access any other websites, to get more valuable information.
Don't share sensitive information with others
Don't leave a paper trail (shred sensitive documents) and never leave the ATM receipt, credit card, or gas receipt in that location. Always retrieve it. Make sure you destroy it [or store it securely.]


Christina (Host): 
That makes a lot of sense! One of the fraud schemes that was brought to my attention recently... We just posted an article about it called card cracking. But basically someone who has a bank account, a credit union account, and they have a debit card. Someone will solicit them over social media or text and say, "Hey, I can make you an easy $3,000," or whatever the amount is. And then what happens is, if that person hands out their bank account information, the fraudster will try to deposit fake checks into the account. And then take the cash out of the ATM. Makes a whole big mess. And it's illegal to be party to that! So that's a really big one, especially targeting college students and senior citizens. It's a big money scam right now.


Charles J. (Risk and Compliance Manager):
Criminals come up with new and inventive ideas all the time. So, the one thing that we can consistently do is just remain vigilant and being careful who we share our information with.

Check out our article on debit card fraud awareness.



What Should You Do If Identity Theft Happens To You?



We do have an identity theft protection checklist (downloadable pdf) that you can take with you so that you don’t feel pressured to remember it all right now!


Charles J. (Risk and Compliance Manager):
If you've already been compromised, there are some things you should do immediately:

-Call all the affected banks and companies where you know the fraud occurred
-Request your free credit report and look for anything unusual
-Place a fraud alert with all three credit bureaus
-Report the identity theft to the FTC, the Federal Trade Commission
-In some locations, you'll want to contact your local police department.
-Arizonans should report to the Arizona Fraud Squad and the attorney general’s office. 

Unfortunately, we can take all the necessary precautions and still fall prey to identity theft. However, we can greatly reduce our chances of being a victim of identity theft or simply minimize the damages. 

Helpful tips to help keep yourself protected:

-Never give out your personal information over the phone
-Verify the legitimacy of online businesses before making any purchases
-Be extremely careful when sharing your private information. Ask how your information is being protected and why they're actually requiring this information. Legitimate businesses will respond to that. They'll appreciate you asking those questions.
-Protect yourself on mobile devices, by using apps rather than a mobile browser on your phone. The mobile app is verified directly with that particular institution or company. Using a browser there’s room for error, redirecting, and potential fraud.

Thank you everyone! We hope this information was helpful and please make sure you check out our free Identity Theft Protection Checklist for even more information.



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This article is intended to be a general resource only and is not intended to be nor does it constitute legal advice. Any recommendations are based on opinion only. Rates, terms and conditions are subject to change and may vary based on creditworthiness, qualifications, and collateral conditions. All loans subject to approval.