Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information to commit fraud or other crimes. Thieves often use the information they steal to get credit cards or other types of credit.
There are several ways you can thwart identity theft and protect your credit report:
- Only share personal information with reputable sources. Be wary of any organization or person that initiates contact with you. When someone calls you, the safest thing to do disconnect and call the company back at a verified number.
- When shopping on-line, make sure your information is being transmitted on a secure site. Look for a closed lock on the status bar and web address that starts with https.
- Don’t leave your mail and trash vulnerable. Shred all documents that have an account number or your Social Security number on them.
- Review your credit card and checking account statements each month to ensure that all transactions are accurate. If you get strange bills in the mail for accounts that you have not opened, don’t just throw them away – contact the company and report it.
- Check your credit report periodically to make sure all of the accounts and balances are yours.
If you become the victim of identity theft, being proactive can minimize its impact on you. If a credit card or checking account has been used or opened illegally, contact your creditor or financial institution immediately. They should close accounts that are not yours and change the account numbers and passwords for accounts that are yours. Monitor all future statements carefully for evidence of new fraud. You may also want to report the identity theft to the police. Be sure to request a copy of the police report – a credit bureau or creditor may require you to provide one to investigate and remove fraudulent information. Check your credit report and dispute any fraudulent items. Remember, you can also place a fraud alert on your report.
Computer Security Tips
- Keep your computer operating system up to date to ensure the highest level of protection.
- Install a personal firewall on your computer.
- Install, run, and keep anti-virus software updated.
- Turn your computer off completely when you are finished using it – don’t leave it in sleep mode.
- Conduct online banking activities on secure computers only. Public computers (computers at internet cafes, copy centers, etc.) should be used with caution, due to shared use and possible tampering. Online banking activities and viewing or downloading documents (statements, etc.) should only be conducted on a computer you know to be safe and secure.
Email Security Tips
- Be wary of suspicious emails. Never open attachments, click on links, or respond to emails from suspicious or unknown senders.
- If you receive a suspicious email that you think is a phish email, do not respond or provide any information. Call Bethpage immediately. Learn more about reporting suspicious email and websites.
- If you respond to a phish email with personal information, contact Bethpage’s Fraud Prevention Hotline at 1-866-867-5568.
Mobile Security Tips
When you use a mobile device (cellular phone, iPhone, iPod touch, Android, BlackBerry, or other device) for browser or text-based account access, keep these tips in mind:
- Use the keypad lock or phone lock function on your mobile device when it is not in use. These functions password-protect your device so that nobody else can use it or view your information. Also be sure to store your device in a secure location.
- Frequently delete text messages from your financial institution, especially before loaning out, discarding, or selling your mobile device.
- Never disclose via text message any personal information (account numbers, passwords, or any combination of sensitive information like your social security number or birth date that could be used in ID theft).
- Text Banking users, if you lose your mobile device or change your mobile phone number, remove the old number from your mobile banking profile or call member service at 800-628-7070.
- Mobile banking applications are programs you can download to your mobile device. Applications or “apps” that let you monitor your finances and conduct certain transactions are increasing in popularity.
- To ensure the safety of your personal and account information, download mobile apps from reputable sources only.
- For your security, sign off when you finish using an app rather than just closing it.
Online Security Tips
- Avoid downloading programs from unknown sources.
- Do not use your Social Security number as a username or password. Change your usernames and passwords regularly and use combinations of letters, numbers, and "special characters" such as “pound” (#) and “at” (@) signs. Do not use your online banking password as a password for other online accounts.
- If your current username or password is your Social Security number, change it following these directions:
- Sign in to an Online Banking session
- Click on the Account Services tab
- Under My Profile, select Change Username or Change Password
- Protect your online passwords. Don’t write them down or share them with anyone.
- Protect your answers to security questions. Select questions and provide answers that are easy for you to remember, but hard for anyone else to guess. Do not write down your security questions or answers or share them with anyone. If you have selected security questions on other websites, avoid using the same questions to protect your online account. You should never be asked to provide answers to your security questions via email.
- Use secure websites for transactions and shopping. Shop with merchants you know and trust. Make sure internet purchases are secured with encryption to protect your account information. Look for “secure transaction” symbols like a lock symbol in the lower right-hand corner of your web browser window, or “https://…” in the address bar of the website. The “s” indicates "secured" and means the web page uses encryption.
- Always log off from any website after making a purchase with your credit or debit card. If you cannot log off, shut down your browser to prevent unauthorized access to your account information.
- Close your browser when you’re not using the internet.
Please note: since contact information can periodically change, confirm addresses before sending a letter containing personal information.
PO Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
(800) 685-1111 (to order credit report)
(888) 766-0008 (to report fraud)
PO Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022
(800) 888-4213 (to order credit report)
(800) 680-7289 (to report fraud)
- National Tenant Network
PO Box 1664
Lake Oswego, OR 97035
- Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20580