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Fraud Protection

How To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

By following these tips and suggestions, you can better safeguard your personal information:

  • Keep a close eye on your personal accounts. Check bank statements, email accounts, anything that contains personal information. If there’s an unfamiliar charge or something that looks suspicious, take care of it immediately. Order copies of your credit report once a year to ensure they are accurate. You can call each of the three national credit-reporting agencies because each may contain different aspects of your credit history, or you can contact the Annual Credit Report Service for one free credit report each year.If you have been denied credit in the past 60 days, the credit-reporting agency that sent the report to your prospective creditor must provide you with a copy of the report for free. However, it will not be sent automatically so you have to request a copy from the credit-reporting agency. 


1-877-322-8228 or equifax.com


1-800-685-1111 or equifax.com


1-888-397-3742 or experian.com


1-800-916-8800 or transunion.com

  • Don’t open emails from unknown senders. If you don’t recognize the email address or subject line do NOT open the email. This is a perfect way for hackers to send spyware to access your accounts. It’s a good idea to keep your email organized to prevent confusion and also delete suspected spam, without opening, immediately.
  • Only download software from sites you trust. Don’t blindly search for a program and download it. Do research on websites if you’re unsure of them. Usually you can find someone who has used it before. When downloading, keep an eye on the file size. Many times, if a file is unusually big, it means there’s something else contained within the file. Beware of Spoofing by double-checking the web address! Known as phishing, some thieves try to re-create websites that look almost identical to sites you may use regularly, such as your bank.
  • Look for the padlock when purchasing things online. When buying online, look for qualifications that say that the site is a secure site. Bank sites are most often secure; if you find that yours is not, change banks. When purchasing items online look for the secure closed padlock sign in the lower right hand corner of your browser. This is a sure sign that the site is safe. Never provide personal or credit card information over the phone, unless you initiated the call. Crooks are known to call with news that you've won a prize and all they need is your credit card number for verification. Don't fall for it. Remember the old saying, "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."
  • Tear up or shred documents that contain personal information. These may include pre-approved credit offers, receipts and other personal information that link your name to account numbers. Don't leave your ATM or credit card receipt in public trash cans. Crooks (a.k.a. dumpster divers) are known to go through trash to get account numbers and other items that will give them just enough information to get credit in your name.
  • Pay attention to your bill cycles and your process for paying them. If your credit card or other bills are more than two weeks late, you should do three things: First, contact the Postal Service to see if someone has forwarded your mail to another address. Second, contact your bank to ask if the statement or card has been mailed. Third, contact the businesses that send you bills.When you pay bills, don't put them in your mailbox with the red flag up. That's a flashing neon light telling crooks to grab your information. Use a locked mailbox or the post office.
  • Don't carry personal information with you if at all possible. Don't carry your Social Security card, passport or birth certificate unless you need it that day. Take all but one or two credit cards out of your wallet, and keep a list at home of your account information and customer service telephone numbers. That way, if your wallet is lost or stolen, you'll only have to notify a few of your creditors and the information will be handy.
  • Don’t use the same password and change it often. There are way too many people that use the same password for each online account. This is one of the biggest mistakes that people make. For example, let’s say that you sign up for a new account on a shopping website. Unfortunately you get some spyware from that website. Now the hacker that has your login and can use the same info to log into your bank account. If it’s difficult to remember so many passwords, come up with a formula specific to you that allow you to generate a password on each site. Don't write your personal identification number (PIN) on your ATM or debit card. Don't write your social security number or credit card account number on a check. Cover your hand when you are entering your PIN number at an ATM.
  •  Install trusted security software on your computer. It is a good idea to install an anti-virus and anti-spyware on your computer. This will help catch the websites that are not secure, as well as protect your computer and information if there is a virus. It is also very helpful for a family computer, as kids are more likely to click on something suspicious.
  • Report suspicious activity immediately. Take the necessary steps to investigate unusual behavior, and if identity theft is confirmed, take the right steps to effectively deal with it.

Bottom line, use your best judgement when it comes to your online activity, and if something doesn't seem right, report it immediately. To learn more about the measures we take to safeguard your accounts at Northwest Georgia Bank, please contact us

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