Identity Theft

Tips to Prevent Identity Theft

Protect yourself against identity theft or fraud

  • Avoid emailing personal and financial information; before submitting financial information through a website, look for the "lock" icon on the browser's status bar; this icon signals that your information is secure during transmission
  • Review credit card and bank account statements as soon as you receive them to determine whether there are any unauthorized charges; if your statement is late by more than 3-4 days, call your credit card company or bank to confirm your billing address and account balances
  • Report suspicious activity to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC): forward suspicious email(s) or spam to: spam@uce.gov
  • If you believe you have been scammed, file your complaint at: http://www.ftc.gov/ – then visit the FTC's Identity Theft website or call the FTC at 877-438-4338 to learn how to minimize your risk of damage from identity theft
  • Never provide account information to unsolicited telephone calls; if someone should ask for personal account information, pleasantly thank the caller and contact the company using a telephone number or email address you know to be genuine
    • FirstMerit will not ask for personal identification numbers (PINs) over the phone
  • Use strong passwords: passwords should have a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters
  • Change your passwords routinely, as a compromised password is an open invitation to fraud, identity theft, or both
  • Don't open links in emails; hackers frequently try to get information from individuals by sending emails asking for verification of account information; these deceptive emails may say that your bank account has been closed due to fraudulent activity or that it needs to be verified; if you ever receive an email of this nature, do not open the attached files, and do not provide any personal information
    • FirstMerit will never solicit your personal or account information through email
  • Avoid account and password reuse: For example, fraudulent individuals will use compromised Yahoo accounts against the top fifty banks in America hoping that the account and password is reused to access a financial e-commerce application
  • Examine browser security settings; make sure the security settings in your browser (Internet Explorer (IE), for example) are set to provide an appropriate level of protection; use the Help feature of your Internet browser program to familiarize yourself with the security features available for your particular browser – follow the below steps to check your browser's level of protection:
  1.  
    1. Click on Tools on the menu bar
    2. Then click on Internet Options on the pull-down menu
    3. Click on Security

Voice Phishing

There has been an increase in identity theft fraud being conducted over the telephone, by voicemail, and through text messaging. This technique, known as vishing or "voice Phishshing" uses voice response telephone systems to deceive consumers into revealing personal data.

How It Works:

  • An automated system or live user on the phone may report an urgent problem with one of your accounts that requires you to validate your personal information, such as account numbers, credit card details, PINs, Social Security Numbers, etc.
  • Additionally, people may receive a text message, voice mail, or email "alert" urging them to respond to a security concern by dialing a given number (which is not the actual financial institution's number) and verifying their account details

What You Should Do:

  • If you receive an urgent phone call or message referencing an account you hold and are asked to provide or confirm any personal information, do not answer the questions
  • End the call immediately and contact your bank directly using a telephone number from a statement, the back of a debit/credit card, or from a telephone book