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Fraud & Identity Theft

Fraud is usually limited to an isolated attempt to steal money from an existing account – such as a charge on a stolen credit card. With Identity Theft, a thief uses stolen personal information, such as a Social Security number or bank account number, to open accounts or initiate several transactions in your name. This may cause financial loss or damaged credit.

In general, Identity Theft is more extensive than fraud. If fraudulent transactions occur on your account, it does not automatically mean your identity was stolen. It may be an isolated incident of theft that can be quickly resolved.

Identity theft and identity fraud are portrayed as high-tech crimes affecting only those people who shop, communicate, or do business online. However, while thieves can obtain personal information via online methods, the majority of identity theft and identity fraud occurs offline. Stealing wallets and purses, intercepting or rerouting mail, and rummaging through garbage are some of the common tactics that thieves use to obtain personal information.

  • Know your billing and statement cycles. Contact the company's customer service department if you stop receiving your regular bill or statement.
  • Review your credit report at least once a year, looking for suspicious or unknown transactions. You can get a free credit report once a year from each of the three major credit bureaus at For a small fee you can obtain a copy at any time directly from:
  • Equifax: 1-800-685-1111 or
  • Experian: 1-888-397-3742 or
  • TransUnion: 1-800-916-8800 or
  • Carry only necessary information with you. Leave your social security card and unused credits cards in a safe place.
  • Replace paper invoices, statements and checks with electronic versions, if offered by your employer, bank, utility provider or merchant.
  • Shred documents containing personal or financial information before discarding. Most fraud and identity theft incidents happen as a result of mail and garbage theft.
  • Consider subscribing to a credit monitoring service.
  • Place outgoing mail in a U.S. Postal Service mailbox to reduce the chance of mail theft.


Smart Tip - ID Theft Recovery

If you think you've been a victim of Identity Theft visit the Federal Trade Commission's website at for a complete ID Theft Recovery toolkit including: letter templates, contact recommendations, links to reporting agencies and guidance on everything from register for a credit freeze to applying for a new Social Security number. You can also stop by any SBT location and ask a banker for ID Theft recover resources.