At Mercantil Bank precautions are taken to ensure that your personal information is safeguarded and that we provide you with up-to-date information regarding identity theft and fraud. Our goal is to not only protect you from becoming victim, but to help you identify how you may fall victim to identity theft. While this is our practice, unfortunately, Identity Theft is growing in rapid numbers and new methods are utilized by criminals to obtain information on individuals, both in the physical and electronic realm with intent to defraud.
WHAT IS IDENTITY THEFT?
Identity Theft is the use of personally identifiable information about another person, such as a Social Security Number or Cedula, without the authority to use that information and with the intent to defraud and attain the other person’s assets illegally and for the perpetrator’s personal gain.
Identity Theft is a serious criminal offense. It can result in bogus accounts being opened in your name, including Credit Card accounts, utility accounts or checking accounts. Identity thieves may also write counterfeit checks, order ATM cards or change your address and other contact information. They also commit various other frauds using your name including signing a lease to rent an apartment, making large purchases and ruining your credit and good name.
HOW CAN YOUR INFORMATION BE COMPROMISED?
There are an unlimited number of ways in which your personal information may be compromised, and you may not even know it, including:
- Stealing checks or bank statements from your mailbox or during a home burglary
- Failing to conceal personal identification number (PIN) numbers and passwords so a thief can copy them
- Rummaging through garbage, referred to as “dumpster diving”
- Hacking into system databases at merchants, payment processors, government agencies or even your own computer
- Gathering information from popular social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and others
- Replying to bogus mail from “trustworthy” organizations requesting personal information; when this occurs online via email it is known as “phishing”
- Card skimming, which involves copying a debit or credit card’s magnetic stripe
- As a result of sharing your account user ID and password with family, business associates or others
HOW CAN YOU PROTECT YOUR IDENTITY?
Prevention is the best way to avoid Identity Theft.
Protect Your Computer and Online Activity
- Install Anti-Virus, Anti-Spyware and Firewall software and obtain updates on a regular basis
- Be aware of your online activity, such as date of your last login and messages received from your online account providers
- Don’t answer e-mails that request personal information, and be wary of emails that require you to “click” on a link unknown to you
- Don’t publish identifying information on Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and other public social networking sites
- Don’t access secure sites using Wi-Fi or public computers like those at internet cafes
- Confirm the legitimacy of online merchants and use secure payment agents
If you should need to send Mercantil Bank a message that contains confidential information, use our Online Banking secure message service.
NOTE: A secure site’s URL begins with https:// and/or has a locked padlock symbol on the site.
Protect Your Online Passwords
- Change your password frequently
- Don’t share your user ID or password
- Don’t use simple passwords or “guessable” passwords such as your date of birth or children’s names
- Mix up characters and numbers and upper and lower case letters when creating your passwords.
Establish Fraud Alerts
- Contact the three major credit bureaus Equifax, Experian, Transunion
- Check with your financial institution to learn about what fraud alert services are available
Safeguard Your Personal Information
- If you must share your account number, ensure that you are dealing with a trusted source. It is always best to avoid doing this altogether
- NEVER provide your Social Security, Cedula number or any other personal information over the phone unless you have initiated the contact with the company,
organization or individual you consider trustworthy. If caller states they are from a bank, government agency, or credit card company ask for their number and confirm validity of call
- NEVER share your personal identification number (PIN) or password
Protect Your Documents and Credit/Debit Cards
- Shred documents containing personal information
- Keep important documents in a locked storage box or safe deposit box at the bank
- Be aware when a debit or credit card is out of your sight
- Don’t place checks or outgoing mail in an unlocked mailbox
- Make arrangements for your mail to be held at the post office or removed from your mailbox by an individual of trust if you are going to be out of town
Be Vigilant and Monitor Your Accounts
- Enroll onto online statements and avoid lost or stolen statements in the mail
- Review your account statement carefully and advise of any suspicious activity immediately
- Monitor your credit reports to identify any new accounts or activity that you may not have initiated.You are eligible to obtain a free annual credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com
- Report any phishing attempt to your creditor or bank; if you receive an unsecured e-mail from Mercantil Bank and would like to verify its legitimacy, you may contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Mercantil Bank will not send you an email requesting personal information
For more information on how to Protect Your Identity
If you think you’re a victim of fraud or you’re worried that you might have inadvertently compromised your Mercantil Bank account, it is important that you contact us immediately. The sooner you let us know what has occurred, the faster we can provide assistance.
TAKING CONTROL IF YOU ARE A VICTIM
Immediately contact the three credit bureaus Equifax, Transunion and Experian to place a fraud alert on your credit file. Initial Alerts remain on file for 90 days. Extended Alerts, which require a law enforcement report, remain on file for 7 years.These alerts tell creditors to contact you before they open any accounts in your name.
- File a report with your local police or other law enforcement agency; the sooner they become aware of your identity theft, the more effective they can be in identifying fraudulent activity
- Notify your creditors
- Close accounts that you know have been, or believe have been, compromised or opened fraudulently
- Request credit reports from the three credit bureaus; when you place a fraud alert on your credit file, they must give you a free copy of your report so you can check for unusual activity
- Check mail carefully for any bank, credit card or other account statements for which you did not apply and contact the creditor immediately
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by contacting their Identity Theft hotline
- Complete a Identity Theft Affidavit. This document will help you report to companies that a new account has been opened fraudulently under your name. To obtain a copy of the Identity Theft Affidavit, visit the www.consumer.ftc.gov website.