Phoenix (December 13, 2017) – Experts say the holidays could make gift-givers more susceptible to identity theft. FirstBank, the nation’s third largest privately held bank with numerous banking locations in Arizona, explains that while fraud is a year-round problem, the holidays offer an especially opportune time for thieves as purchasing multiple gifts, whether it’s online or in the store, increases exposure to our financial information.
Media who are interested in interviewing a local FirstBank representative on how to avoid identity theft this holiday season should contact Sierra Oshrin: 480-868-9423.
Here are four ways to prevent it from happening to you:
- Check accounts regularly for unusual activity.
Many banks, including FirstBank, allow you to sign up for security alerts that will notify you when your personal information changes or if suspicious activity is detected. Check with your financial institution and enroll if it’s offered.
- Change passwords often.
Also make sure to use different usernames and password combinations for each online account. The strength of your password is based on its complexity, length, and uniqueness. If additional authentication methods are offered, such as image verification, security questions, or access confirmation on a separate device, ensure you complete them for all accounts.
- Beware of phishing scams.
No credible company or government agency will contact you asking for personal information via e-mail or over the phone. With phishing scams, fraudsters usually pose as a company representative and/or use authentic-looking websites or emails with malicious links to gather your personal information. Do not provide any sensitive information, ask to take down their name and number, and report to your bank.
- Be a little less social on social channels.
The biggest target for identity thieves are people between the ages of 20-39. That same age group also happens to be the most active on social media. Identity thieves use these channels to find out personal information like family names, where you went to school, your birth-date, and more. Check your privacy settings and don’t list any sensitive information.
FirstBank suggests that victims of identity theft should obtain and review a copy of their credit report. They should also consider placing a freeze on their credit or placing a credit bureau fraud alert. A freeze won’t allow the victim, or the fraudster, to open up any new accounts while it is in place. The alert warns prospective lenders to take extra steps to verify the account-holders identity.
To place a security freeze or issue an alert, contact each credit bureau independently; Equifax: (800) 685-1111 or click here.Experian: (888) 397-3742 or click here. TransUnion: (888) 909-8872 or click here.
FirstBank operates more than 115 locations in Colorado, Arizona and California. FirstBank is the largest locally owned banking organization in Colorado, serving more than 750,000 customers. Since 2000, FirstBank has contributed more than $57 million and thousands of volunteer hours to charitable organizations. FirstBank is unique in that a majority of its stock is owned by management and employees. For more information, go to efirstbank.com.