Identity Theft: Do You Know How to Deal with It?
Last week while driving to work, the morning talk show on the radio was discussing identity theft. One of the hosts had had her credit card number compromised and was discussing this on the air. They requested calls on the subject and were barraged by more calls than they could take. This shows how prevalent the problem is—and this is for just one city.
As educators for our membership, dealing with ID theft should be a top-of-the-list subject for 2005. Factual, concise information directly from their credit union—the source they trust the most—would be extremely valuable for our members. I intend to add this to my education plan for the year and hopefully others will as well.
A great place to start is the CUNA website. Click on http://buy.cuna.org/detail.php?sku=24209 to view CUNA’s two-page brochure entitled “ID Theft: How to Prevent It and How to Get Over It.” Designed with the member in mind, this brochure is packed with useful advice that discusses spoofing, spamming, and phishing, how to prevent identity theft, and how to recover from identity theft. The brochures are available for purchase at the website or call 1-800-356-8010, extension 4157.
Identity theft results when criminals obtain key identifying information, such as your Social Security Number or credit-card account numbers, and rack up big bills, open new accounts, or even apply for loans in your name. If you fall victim, it could take years, and thousands of dollars, to re-establish your good credit.
There are some simple things that can be done to avoid identity theft:
· Avoid using your Social Security number as an identifier, such as on your driver’s license
· Check your credit report at least once a year for unauthorized spending
· Immediately report any suspicious credit card activity
· Shred any documents that contain personal identifying information, including pre-approved credit-card offers you receive in the mail
· Regularly visit the Identity Theft Resource Center at www.idtheftcenter.org for the latest information
As the radio show came to a close, I was glad to hear the host praise her credit union for handling her situation quickly and professionally. Members really do appreciate good information and knowing how to deal with a potentially bad situation, such as identity theft—which is one of the most rapidly increasing crimes in the country. Getting your members up to speed on ID theft is easy to do and is an added value that can make a huge impact in their lives.
Renee Dickson is product marketing manager for Wings Federal Credit Union in Apple Valley, Minnesota, and also chair of the CUNA Marketing Council. Contact her at 952-997-8171 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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