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With the recent large scale data breaches and the rise of identity theft and fraudulent credit/debit card usage, it is very important for you to proactively monitor your card accounts and credit reports.
Credit and Debit Cards
To help prevent losses due to unauthorized charges on your credit and debit cards, take advantage of fraud alert services if they are offered by your financial institution. If you don’t currently use online banking, now is a great time to register. With online banking, you can check your accounts as often as you want to monitor improper usage of spot fraudulent charges. You should be checking these accounts at least once a week. The more frequently you check, the quicker you can spot fraudulent charges.
Make sure your contact information is up to date so you can be notified quickly if there are any issues with your account. You can check your information in the online banking portal.
If you find that one of your SECU accounts has been compromised, please contact us immediately at 800-879-7328 and we will work with you to resolve the problem.
It is also important to check your credit report regularly to spot any unauthorized accounts that have been opened in your name. You are entitled to one free report from the main three credit reporting agencies each year.
If you suspect your information has been compromised, you can place a fraud alert or temporary freeze on your credit. Fraud alerts last 90 days, but can easily be extended. With a fraud alert, financial institutions will need to go through extra steps to approve credit or a loan in your name.
A temporary freeze means that no credit can be issued in your name. Credit reporting agencies can charge for this service. If you want to apply for a loan or credit card, you would need to contact each agency to lift the freeze.
Sign up for fraud alerts and set up a temporary freeze on your credit with the three agencies.
To request a free copy of all three of your reports, visit www.annualcreditreport.com.
Suggestions for Victims of Credit Fraud
If you believe you are a victim of credit fraud, here are some of the steps you can take to protect yourself:
- Inform creditors. If you find an account you did not open, contact the creditor and inform them that the account is fraudulent.
- Document everything. Make notes of everyone you speak with and the date of the conversation. Write down names, department names, phone extensions and any follow-up items.
- Understand the process. Each creditor may have a different process for handling a fraud claim. Make sure you understand exactly what is expected from you to successfully complete the investigation. At the conclusion of an investigation, ask the creditor for documentation stating you are not responsible for the debt.
- Follow up. Make sure everything a creditor/credit reporting agency has requested is received. It is always a good idea to place a follow-up call or send letters with delivery confirmation.
- Review future reports regularly. Obtain another report several months after you believe everything is cleared up. If a new fraudulent account is discovered, you know how to handle it. If your credit report is back to normal, you can feel confident that all issues were resolved as you expected. It would be a good idea to check your credit report again in six months and a year later.
- Don’t throw away files. Keep all notes and correspondence in an accessible file in case they are needed in the future.