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When it comes to identity theft, the best offense is a good defense

When it comes to identity theft, the best offense is a good defense

Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, but when somebody engages in identity theft – fraudulently using stolen bits and pieces of your personal information for financial gain – it can also be a sincere pain in the you-know-what.

According to the non-profit Identity Theft Resource Center, 16.7 million Americans were victims of identity fraud in 2017. There were more than 1,200 data breaches reported in 2018 alone, resulting in more than 446 million sensitive records (Social Security numbers, names, addresses, passwords, etc.) falling into the hands of potential criminals.

We are doing our part at Velocity to try and mitigate the damage that identity theft and fraud would otherwise cause our members. The fraud protection page on our website offers information and tools to help you protect yourself:

Our free SecurLOCK app, available for iOS (Apple) and Android devices, can alert you nearly instantly to transactions made on your Velocity cards and gives you the option to turn your cards on or off at will. The page also includes information about “skimmers” – devices that attach to gas pump and ATM card readers which collect identifying information that fraudsters can retrieve and use for theft and other nefarious purposes.

Additionally, our free eAlerts available through our eServices can instantly notify you of transactions on your accounts at any amount level your choose.

Finally, we offer more than a dozen tips for protecting yourself against identity theft. Here are three of our favorites:

  1. Review your credit reports. You are entitled to one free credit report yearly from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, Transunion). If you stagger them, you could check your credit history for incorrect or fraudulent information every four months.
  2. Don’t respond to emails or phone calls requesting personal information. No legitimate company (or credit union) will send you an e-mail asking you to verify or send personal information in reply.
  3. Guard your Social Security number. Lots of companies will ask for it. Many of them don’t need it and aren’t legally entitled to it.

To get more tips on protecting your identity, join Velocity community relations specialist Nico Ramsey for a free “Scones and Scams” event from 8-9am Tuesday, Feb. 26 at our Cedar Park Branch. He’ll offer practical strategies you can use to begin protecting yourself immediately. You can RSVP here. We’ll provide breakfast snacks and lots of great information, and we won’t ask for your Social Security number.