By: First Community Bank
One of life’s mostbrimportant numbers is your FICO score. Ranging from 300 to 850—the higher thebrbetter—it tells creditors how good you are at paying your bills and it’s thebrfirst thing they’ll check when you apply for a credit card, a job, a loan orbreven insurance. Sadly, your FICO number could be in jeopardy in today’s highlybrconnected, digital world as criminals find more opportunities to commit identitybrtheft and credit fraud. Develop good habits to protect yourself and know whatbrto do if you’re a victim.
Protect Your Credit and PersonalbrInformation
- Keep a record of all PINS,brpasswords, account numbers, credit cards and contact information in a safebrplace. This is particularly helpful if you need to call and report stolen creditbrcards, or checkbook, etc.
- A stolen or lost wallet or purse canbrbe a goldmine for thieves by providing access to your personal information usedbrfor identity theft. Carry only the credit cards you regularly use; never carrybryour Social Security card, voter’s registration card, etc.
- Some credit cards give you thebroption of requiring an ID when they are used; take advantage of this safeguardbrwhenever available.
- Carefully check your credit card andbrbank statements for irregularities and shred them instead of just tossing thembrin the trash.
- Don’t share secure information overbrthe phone. Your bank, the IRS, etc. won’t contact you to ask for this type ofbrinformation.
- Always be careful aboutbrlinks and attachments found in emails, texts, or pop-up ads, especially frombrsenders you don’t know.
- Monitor your credit on a regularbrbasis. By law, you are allowed one free report annually from each of the threebrcredit reporting companies—Equifax,brExperian and TransUnion—so make a schedule and request one everybrfour months on a rotating basis. (Go to www.AnnualCreditReport.com,brthe government authorized source for free credit reports.)
If You’re a Victim
- If your wallet or purse has beenbrlost or stolen, contact your bank and credit card issuers, the DMV regardingbryour license, your auto and health insurance companies and any other agenciesbras needed. Also alert local law enforcement and file a report.
- Thieves can also steal and use yourbr credit card number without physically taking your card. If you see a suspiciousbr charge on your statement, immediately contact your credit card company andbr if possible, the business where the transaction took place.
- If you discover a fraudulentbr account was opened in your name, contact the creditor immediately tobr notify them and discuss the steps you’ll need to take to resolve thebr issue. Ask questions, including what charges, if any, you might be liablebr for and get it in writing.
- Contact the three credit monitoringbr companies and discuss other available actions, such as freezing yourbr credit. Continue reviewing your credit reports, to be sure it was anbr isolated incident.
- If it is a recurring problem, youbr may well be a victim of identity theft. If so, file a report with yourbr local police department, contact the credit monitoring companies and visitbr the Federal Trade Commission site, www.IdentityTheft.gov, tobr help you develop a recovery plan.
- Keep all notes and correspondencebr related to the fraud incident in case they are needed in the future.
Learn more about First Community Bank at fcbot.com.
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