Identity theft occurs when your personal or financial information is used without your permission to commit fraud. Identity theft can lead to financial loss, damaged credit, and cost you time as you try to restore your credit. The time it takes to fix the issue can be anywhere from a few hours to several months or even years. Patterson State Bank wants to help you better understand identity theft, detect it, and protect yourself from becoming a victim.

Types of Identity Theft

There are many types of identity theft, but some of the most common are:

  1. Financial identity theft is the most common form and occurs when your identity is used by another person without permission to access your bank accounts, obtain credit, or purchase goods and services.
  2. Online identity theft occurs when your digital personal information is stolen through means like phishing, malicious software, pharming, and visiting unsecure websites.
  3. Medical identity theft occurs when your personal information is used for medical purposes such as doctor visits, prescription and medical device purchases, and insurance claims.
  4. Tax identity theft is when your personal information, including your Social Security number, is used to falsely file state or federal tax returns to obtain a refund.
  5. Synthetic identity theft is when someone creates an entirely new identity by using a combination of stolen and fake data.

How To Spot Identity Theft

Spotting identity theft isn’t always easy, but here are a few things you can do to detect it.

  • Track your bills and know when they’re due. If you stop receiving a recurring bill, it could be a sign that someone has changed your billing address.
  • Review your bills and bank accounts for any withdrawals or charges you didn’t make.

At Patterson State Bank, we make it easy with Card Controls, available in the PSB app. Here, you can enable/disable a debit card for use, restrict card usage to specific types of merchants and/or transaction types, set transaction limits and more. You can even receive notifications on your smartphone or smart watch! 

  • Monitor your credit reports. Unfamiliar accounts in your name or a change in your score could signal identity theft.
    Patterson State Bank is making monitoring your credit easier with SavvyMoney®, a new tool on the Patterson State Bank mobile app. View your credit score, full credit report, receive important credit monitoring alerts, and special credit offers. No more giving out your email address and other personal information to other companies just to get a free credit report. Simply click within our mobile app and your current credit report is always available to you. Plus, you can have access to all of this without impacting your credit score.

Tips for Preventing Identity Theft

Taking steps to protect your personal information can help keep you from becoming a victim of identity theft. Here are a few ways to help keep your information safe:

  1. Store documents with personal information in a safe place and shred them when they are no longer needed.
  2. Ask questions before giving out personal information like your Social Security number and bank account number to ensure the credibility of the person requesting it. Legitimate organizations that do need this information will not call, email or text to ask for it.
  3. Protect yourself online and on your mobile device by using strong passwords, multi-factor authentication when possible, and using safe online practices.

Conclusion

Identity theft can disrupt your life in many ways, so it is important to know what to look for in order to better detect it, and practice prevention measures to avoid becoming a victim. If you think you’re a victim of identity theft, you can report it at www.identitytheft.gov.

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