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10/30/07

Credit Card Safety: What to do if Your “Bank” Calls

A very common technique utilized by an identity thief is to call you pretending to be an employee of your bank. These con artists usually make up a story about the bank losing your information and that he/she needs you to verify your bank account by telling him/her your account number, full name, social security number, and other personal information. The unsuspecting victim complies with the request hoping to solve any problems the bank is having. Unfortunately, that person is about to become another statistic in the growing number of identity theft cases.

Your bank, or any legitimate bank for that matter, will never call you and ask for your personal information. Think about it logically; if they had your phone number and name and knew you were a bank customer, why would they need your personal information? Do not fear hanging up on these criminals!

Many people fear that it really is their bank calling and that if they hang up on their bank, something bad will happen. Listen, nothing is going to happen if you hang up on your bank. It is not like you are going to get a letter the next day telling you your account has been closed due to your telephone rudeness. The point is, do not be fooled by these con artists.

Always remember (absent being inside the bank opening a new account), a bank will never ask you for your personal information! It is that simple. If you truly feel that it is your bank calling and that there really is a problem with your account, get the caller’s name and call station location. That same day (or the next day if the bank is already closed) go down to your local branch and tell the teller the situation. If the teller checks your account and everything is fine, then you know that you just prevented an identity thief from claiming you as his/her next victim.

Always look for subtle signs that an identity thief is trying to steal your identity. For example, a call after regular business hours; a “private number” showing up on your caller id; or the caller not be able to tell you what is wrong with your account are all signs of an identity thief attempting to steal your identity. Like I stated above, you would much rather be safe than sorry in these kinds of situations, therefore, error on the side of caution and never give out your personal information over the phone or through the mail.

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