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Your Bank > Education and Advice > CNB University

Tips to Protect Your Identity

Identity Theft continues to be one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States. In 2014, there were 12.7 Million victims of identity fraud in the U.S., according to Javelin Strategy and Research. Canandaigua National Bank & Trust recommends following these tips to help keep your information – and your money – safe.

  • Don’t share your secrets.
    Your Social Security number is one of your most important personal identifiers. If identity thieves obtain your Social Security number, they can access your bank account, file false tax returns, and wreak havoc on your credit report. Here are some steps you can take to help safeguard your number:
    • Never carry your card with you. You should never carry your Social Security Card with you unless it’s absolutely necessary. The same goes for other forms of identification that may display your Social Security Number (e.g., Medicare card)
    • Do not give out your number over the phone or via email/internet. Oftentimes, identity thieves will pose as legitimate government organizations or financial institutions and contact you to request personal information, including your Social Security number. Avoid giving out your Social Security number to anyone over the phone or via email/internet unless you initiate the contact with an organization or institution you trust.
    • Be careful about sharing your number. Just because someone asks you for your Social Security number doesn’t mean you have to share it. Always ask why it is needed, how it will be used, and what the consequences will be if you refuse to provide it.
  • Create long and complex passwords.
    Use a combination of letters and numbers for your passwords and change them periodically. Do not reveal sensitive or personal information on social networking sites, especially your Social Security number.
  • Shred sensitive papers.
    Shred receipts, banks statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away especially any medical or financial document which has your Social Security number on them.
  • Keep an eye out for missing mail.
    Fraudsters look for monthly bank or credit card statements or other mail containing your financial information or mail which man contain your Social Security Number. Consider enrolling in online banking to reduce the likelihood of paper statements being stolen. Also, don’t mail bills from your own mailbox with the flag up.
  • Use online banking to protect yourself.
    Monitor your financial accounts regularly for fraudulent transactions. Sign up for text or email alerts from your bank for certain types of transactions, such as online purchases or transactions of more than $500.
  • Monitor your credit report.
    Order a free copy of your credit report every four months from one of the three credit reporting agencies at annualcreditreport.com.
  • Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately.

If you think someone has misused your Social Security number, contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) immediately to report the problem. The SSA can review your earnings record with you to make sure their records are correct. You can also visit the SSA website at www.ssa.gov to check your earnings record online.

Unfortunately, the SSA cannot directly resolve any identity theft problems created by the misuse of your Social Security number. If you discover that someone is illegally using your number, be sure to contact the appropriate law-enforcement agency. In addition, consider filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and submitting IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, with the Internal Revenue Service. Visit www.ftc.gov and www.irs.gov for more information.

For more security information and alerts please visit CNB's Security Center.

Source: Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc.