Protecting Your Credit

Identity theft is a growing epidemic that can ruin your credit and disrupt your life. But there are several steps you can take everyday to help protect yourself against identity thieves.

Thoroughly examine your credit regularly.

Make sure to verify your credit reports twice a year to ensure all credit accounts that exist in your name are valid. Check all three major credit agencies.*

*While other online credit services offer free reports, many of them require you to purchase credit monitoring services. They also do not have the ability to fix incorrect information.

Request a phone call be made to you before credit is approved.

Adding a statement to your credit file requesting a phone call be made to you before credit is approved may deter some identity thieves from using your credit history to purchase goods. However, this measure will also prevent you from gaining immediate credit without calling first as well.

  • Equifax (1-800-525-6285)
  • Experian (1-888-EXPERIAN)
  • TransUnion (1-800-680-7289)

Shred or secure all personal information.

Most identity thieves can find everything they need to steal your identity by going through your trash. Make sure to shred every personal document before throwing it away. Keep important identifying information (such as bank statements, pay stubs, deposit slips, credit card statements and reports, insurance information, etc.) in a secure lockbox.

Watch your mail.

Anyone can easily access your personal information from the mail. Monitor your mail by sending outgoing letters through the post office or an official mail box instead of your home mail box. Consider purchasing a locked mail box. You can also choose not to receive some pre-approved credit offers by calling 1-888-5OPT-OUT.

Purge your wallet.

Carry only the one credit/debit card you need for day-to-day use in your wallet and leave all others at home in a secure place. This will decrease the amount of purchasing a thief can do on your credit. If you do need to carry all of your cards, make a photocopy of their fronts and backs to keep in your secure lock-box so all your credit information is easily accessible if you need to cancel or revise your accounts.

Never carry your social security card in your wallet - always keep it in a secure location.

"Always Check ID."

Write this on the back of all your credit cards in black marker instead of signing your name on the Authorized Signature strip. Even though all retailers should automatically ask for your ID, it never hurts to remind them.

Only provide personal information online if it is over a secure line.

Unless you are filling out online information from a reputable company over a secure line, do not provide personal information over the Internet. You will know a line is secure when a pop-up window appears that advises you are entering a secure site. Never send credit card information, your social security number or driver's license number in a non-secure email, and immediately delete any emails from people you don't know who may be asking for this information.

Monitor your Social Security and Driver's License numbers.

Having this information makes it much easier for a thief to convince a store clerk not to look at their ID. Don't have this information printed anywhere on your checks or used as an account number or password. Don't provide either number to anyone unless you trust the person/institution you are providing it to.

Watch closely when your credit card is swiped.

Less trustful retail employees use a device called a skimmer that collects your personal information from the magnetic strip. They can then use it to create a fake credit card.

Recovering from Identity Theft.

If you've already been a victim of identity theft, there are several steps you can take to help get your credit back on track. Begin this process as soon as you discover someone is unlawfully using your credit or identity.

  • Cancel all your credit cards and close all bank accounts. Inform institutions that your credit and identity are being used fraudulently and you need to establish new accounts as soon as possible.
  • Contact the three major credit reporting agencies and order copies of your credit reports to see if accounts have been made without your consent. Request a fraud alert and notify them that someone other than you has been using your credit or identity.
  • Request copies of all fraudulently acquired credit accounts for your police file. Many times people know the person using their identity and you may be able to identify them by their signature.
  • Report the incident to your local police department and fill out the proper paperwork to launch an investigation.
  • Document all correspondence and action taken during your investigation. If it is not resolved to your satisfaction, fill out a complaint on the Federal Trade Commission's website www.ftc.gov.
  • Remember to follow-up on your case with the district attorney's office if an arrest is made.

How California is helping.

Being a victim of identity theft is a frightening, isolating and often debilitating experience, but the state of California is taking steps to help minimize the effects of this heinous crime.

  • Identity theft is a felony in California and any resident suspecting they are a victim has a right to initiate a criminal investigation.
  • While it does not prevent credit from being granted, you can place a security alert on your credit report, advising creditors to pay special attention to all credit requests. You may also freeze your credit file at any time and block information pertaining to an ongoing identity theft investigation.
  • As a consumer, you have the right to receive copies of all documents submitted to a credit grantor in your name.
  • California requires that any credit card company notify you if they wish to share your information with marketers and give you the option of refusing.
  • Businesses are not allowed to use your social security number as an account number and supermarkets cannot ask for it on "club card" applications.
  • You may have your name removed from telemarketers' lists (except for non-profits, political and religious organizations).
  • Medical information cannot be used to gain credit.
  • When disposing of files, legitimate businesses are required to completely destroy any records containing identifying information.

OFF-SITE SECURITY LINKS - Security Information Resources


Consumer Awareness

Stay Safe Online

Looks too Good to be True

Be On Guard - Helpful Practices

Malware and a Phishing Scheme

Info on Phishing

Lower your risk of Spyware

FDIC News!

FDIC Insurance

Protect your ID now!

ID Theft Quick Facts!

Fake Checks

FBI - Internet Scams and Warnings

Info on ID Theft

Coast National Bank will never request any personal information such as social security numbers, account numbers, usernames or passwords through email, telephone or fax. Due to the ever-growing threat of electronic fraud, we wanted to take this opportunity to inform you of the threats as they exist, and also that there is no circumstance in which the bank would require you submit you're private information electronically. We pride ourselves on maintaining a highly secure and personal relationship with each of our customers.

Remember, we will never e-mail, telephone or fax you asking for personal information.

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