Citibank and CSUN partnered up to educate students, faculty and staff on the dangers of identity theft during a seminar held in the University Student Union on Tuesday.
Personal Banker Sara A. Yohanna and Business Banking Officer Van Phan presented Identity Theft Solutions which covered ways to recognize and prevent identity theft.
According to the FBI over 500,000 people fall victim to identity theft in the United States each year.
‘Consumers are not aware of it because they don’t take precautionary measures in preventing identity theft,’ said Phan.
Identity theft is when someone gets a hold of a persons identifying information such as name, social security number, mothers maiden name, address or birthday and uses it to pose as that person to open new accounts.
Similar to identity theft is fraud and the two are often confused.’ Fraud is when someone obtains personal information to use an already existing account to commit unauthorized transactions.
Citibank representatives suggested ways to avoid having your information accessible to thieves such as bringing in your mail everyday, locking up passports and social security cards and using a safety deposit box for all important and private documents.’
‘A common way thieves get this information is by sifting through people’s trash,’ said Phan.’ ‘It is called dumpster diving and they literally look through your garbage.’
Outlined were ways to avoid having your personal information taken by doing simple tasks such as shredding any mail that contains birthdates, full names, social security numbers and account numbers.
Citibank reps also suggest consumers look out for suspicious emails, scams, spoofing and phishing since many people are now being targeted online.
‘I got suckered by a fake PayPal email,’ said Matt Eickhoff, USU program coordinator.’ ‘I entered my user name and password before realizing I fell for it, but nothing happened because I contacted PayPal right away.’
Consumers were advised to do routine credit checks at least once a year to ensure there is no fraudulent activity on their profiles.
As indicated in the presentation, secure websites like www.freecreditreport.com or www.annualcreditreport.com provide consumers with free credit reports once a year.
Should you see anything suspicious on your file, don’t panic said Citibank representatives.’ If the activity is caught early enough it shouldn’t take much time to clear it up.’ However, if one doesn’t check their credit report on a regular basis,’ they risk of spending hours or days on claiming back your identity, said Yohanna.
The Identity Theft Resource Center reported in 2003 that late detection of theft can cost the average person more than 600 hours of recovery time and more than $1,400 in out-of-pocket expenses.’
‘We need to be especially careful in hard financial times because people are getting very desperate,’ said Phan.
If you feel you might be a victim of identity theft or fraud you should alert the credit bureaus as soon as possible.