More financial losses may occur from identity theft than from any other property crime. This was true in 2012, when according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 7% of all the people 16 years old or older living in the United States suffered losses of more than $24 billion, $10 billion more than from any other property loss. In case you read past those numbers too quickly, 24 BILLION DOLLARS disappeared because of identity theft in 2012. Wow.
No wonder that the United States and other governments are joining with technology companies to solve this problem. And, no wonder that Peoples Bank has devoted substantial resources to informing customers and its communities about how to protect themselves.
The Federal Trade Commission has created a wonderful new resource to help consumers repair identity theft with a new site, named appropriately IdentityTheft.gov that provides a simple, easy to follow process of repair:
Each step includes suggestions of what to say and who to say it to. For example, within Step 1 is the suggestion to call the company where you know the fraud occurred and ask to speak to the fraud department, asking them to close or freeze the account(s). Such specifics are very helpful, and good to know.
We also like that each step has a “print checklist” option with the things to say and do along the way. There is a related action to take if you received a data breach notice and the text is also clear for disabled people using their web reader. The site is available in English and Spanish languages.
What if no one stole your identity but you want to learn more about how identify theft happens and who gets involved? Great question. FTC’s Identity Theft Consumer Information web page has links so you can learn about:
- What to do when you receive a notice of a “data breach”?
- How can you stay current with ways and means to protect your identity?
- What free resources are available to help educate you and your children or other family members?
- What information is available that is specific to law enforcement, lawyers or businesses.
And, by the way, the federal government is not the only compassionate organization with resources to help repair and avoid identity theft. Peoples Bank has a team of security and banking professionals continuously trained to protect your financial interests. The bank makes much of the information learned from its training program publicly available. Please do not hesitate to talk to your banker to make sure you have necessary precautions in place. Below is a brief list of some of the bank’s online resources:
- Identity Theft Protection web page
- Peoples Bank Online Banking Security Tools
- Peoples Bank Online Security blog posts (all in one place)
Be assured that Peoples Bank is diligent, and constantly monitors for suspicious activity. We will notify you immediately of any such types of activity.
Thank you, in advance, for taking the basic precaution of having good, unique passwords for your financial accounts, and not taping them to your computer keyboard! By working together, we can shave billions off the identity theft statistics. But more important, we protect each other from financial fraud.