Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information (Social Security number, account number, etc.) without your permission to commit fraud, theft or other crimes.
Nationwide Bank® understands that identify theft can have a serious impact on the good name and credit record of a victim. Sometimes it can take years to clean up the results of such a crime and restore an individual's personal and financial life. That's why we go to great lengths to make sure your financial information is secure and provide you with protection from identify theft. We maintain physical, electronic and procedural safeguards that comply with federal standards to guard your identity.
Preventing identity theft online
Protecting yourself from identity theft requires vigilance, caution and common sense. Here are some important steps you can take to minimize your exposure:
- If you receive an email asking for personal information, don't click on any links in the email. Type the company name in a web browser, go to their website and contact them through customer service instead to verify the request.
- Install firewall, antivirus and encryption software on your computer; use strong passwords and keep them private.
- Lock up laptops and other devices that have personal information stored on them.
- Wipe computers and devices clean of all information before you dispose of them or sell them.
- Read the privacy policies of any company or organization you do business with to learn how they protect their customers’ personal information and whether they share it with third parties.
Preventing identity theft offline
Protecting your identity offline is equally important. To keep your identity secure:
- Go paperless as a way to eliminate the need for shredding while increasing security. It's also environmentally friendly.
- Do not leave statements or other documents with your personal information where others can see them.
- Don't carry extra credit cards, your Social Security card, birth certificate or passport.
- Keep a list of all your credit cards, loans, account numbers and expiration dates in a safe place so you can notify creditors in case of theft or loss.
- Never give a credit card number or loan account information over the phone unless you initiated the call.
- When entering your PIN at an ATM, shield the keyboard from the view of others.
- Be aware of who is listening when you give personal information over the phone, no matter the location.
- Don't have check orders mailed to your home unless you have a secure mailbox.
You should also monitor your financial records on a regular basis and request free copies of your credit bureau reports annually from the three national credit-reporting agencies:
Signs that you may be a victim
The majority of identity theft victims don't know until they're contacted by a financial institution about suspicious activity. Others discover the crime after finding fraudulent charges on an account. Most victims have no idea how the criminal obtained their information and do not know the offender personally.
The sooner you discover that you've been the victim of identity theft, the lesser the financial and emotional impact. Be aware of warning signs that someone may have stolen your personal information and is using your identity, so that you can put a stop to the damage quickly. Here are a few clues to look for.
- A notice from the IRS about duplicate tax returns
- Unfamiliar accounts on your credit report
- Unauthorized transactions/withdrawals from your back account
- Receipt of bills for services and/or products you haven’t purchased
- Collection calls concerning debts you know nothing about
- Notification from a company or organization saying your personal information was exposed in a data breach
- Sudden lack of bills or other mail in your mailbox
- Declined credit cards and refused checks when making purchases at stores
Steps to resolving identity theft
If you suspect that your identity may have been stolen, please take the following steps:
- Report the crime to your local police and sheriff departments. A copy of the police report can help you clear up your credit records later on. You may need to provide copies to the creditors.
- Notify the bank or provider of any of the impacted accounts.
- Notify your local post office if you suspect an identity thief has filed a change of address or has used the mail to commit credit or bank fraud. Find out where fraudulent credit cards were sent by contacting the card issuer, and notify the local postmaster for that address to forward all mail in your name to your own address.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and file a complaint via their toll-free hotline 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338) or online at ftc.gov/idtheft.
With respect to any of your Nationwide Bank accounts or transactions, please contact us immediately with any concerns you would like to report.