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Preventing and Responding to Identity Theft

Identity theft, or identity fraud, is a crime that can have substantial financial and emotional consequences. Take precautions with personal information. If you become a victim, act immediately to minimize the damage.

Is identity theft just a problem for people who submit information online?

You can be a victim of identity theft even if you never use a computer. Malicious people may be able to obtain personal information (such as credit card numbers, phone numbers, account numbers, and addresses) by stealing your wallet, overhearing a phone conversation, rummaging through your trash (a practice known as dumpster diving), or picking up a receipt at a restaurant that has your account number on it. If a thief has enough information, he or she may be able to impersonate you to purchase items, open new accounts, or apply for loans.

The Internet has made it easier for thieves to obtain personal and financial data. Most companies and other institutions store information about their clients in databases; if a thief can access that database, he or she can obtain information about many people at once rather than focus on one person at a time. The Internet has also made it easier for thieves to sell or trade the information, making it more difficult for law enforcement to identify and apprehend the criminals.

How are victims of online identity theft chosen?

Identity theft is usually a crime of opportunity, so you may be victimized simply because your information is available. Thieves may target customers of certain companies for a variety of reasons; for example, a company database is easily accessible, the demographics of the customers are appealing, or there is a market for specific information. If your information is stored in a database that is compromised, you may become a victim of identity theft.

Are there ways to avoid being a victim?

Unfortunately, there is no way to guarantee that you will not be a victim of online identity theft. However, there are ways to minimize your risk:

  • Do business with reputable companies – Before providing any personal or financial information, make sure that you are interacting with a reputable, established company.  Some attackers may try to trick you by creating malicious web sites that appear to be legitimate, so you should verify the legitimacy before supplying any information.
  • Take advantage of security features – Passwords and other security features add layers of protection if used appropriately.
  • Check privacy policies – Take precautions when providing information, and make sure to check published privacy policies to see how a company will use or distribute your information. Many companies allow customers to request that their information not be shared with other companies; you should be able to locate the details in your account literature or by contacting the company directly.
  • Be careful what information you publicize – Attackers may be able to piece together information from a variety of sources. Avoid posting personal data in public forums.
  • Use and maintain anti-virus software and a firewall – Protect yourself against viruses and Trojan horses that may steal or modify the data on your own computer and leave you vulnerable by using anti-virus software and a firewall.  Make sure to keep your virus definitions up to date.
  • Be aware of your account activity – Pay attention to your statements, and check your credit report yearly. You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report from each of the main credit reporting companies once every twelve months.

How do you know if your identity has been stolen?

Companies have different policies for notifying customers when they discover that someone has accessed a customer database. However, you should be aware of changes in your normal account activity. The following are examples of changes that could indicate that someone has accessed your information:

  • unusual or unexplainable charges on your bills
  • phone calls or bills for accounts, products, or services that you do not have
  • failure to receive regular bills or mail
  • new, strange accounts appearing on your credit report
  • unexpected denial of your credit card

What can you do if you suspect or know that your identity has been stolen?

Recovering from identity theft can be a long, stressful, and potentially costly process. Many credit card companies have adopted policies that try to minimize the amount of money you are liable for, but the implications can extend beyond your existing accounts. To minimize the extent of the damage, take action as soon as possible:

  • Start by visiting IdentityTheft.gov – This is a trusted, one-stop resource to help you report and recover from identity theft. Information provided here includes checklists, sample letters, and links to other resources.
  • Possible next steps in the process – You may need to contact credit reporting agencies or companies where you have accounts, file police or other official reports, and consider other information that may have been compromised.

Other sites that offer information and guidance for recovering from identity theft are:

Federal Trade Commission 

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov

United States Department of Justice 

https://www.usdoj.gov/criminal/fraud/websites/idtheft.html

Social Security Administration 

https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10064.pdf


 

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MOBILE CHECK DEPOSIT NOW AVAILABLE

BankWest of Kansas now offers Mobile Check Deposit as a free service on our mobile app.  The BankWest of Kansas mobile app can be downloaded from Google Play (for Android devices), the Apple Store (for iOS devices), or Amazon Appstore for Android (for Android devices).  The app is free to download, and Mobile Check Deposit can be used by individuals at no charge.  The mobile app can also be used to pay bills, transfer funds between accounts, and view balances and transactions.  Our mobile app also has Spanish language support available.  To enable this mode, change the language settings of your device to Spanish.

To deposit a check with our mobile app, you must include the following as an indorsement:

1) indorse the check on the back with your signature

2) include under your indorsement, "For mobile deposit only at BankWest of Kansas" and your account number to which the check is being deposited.

If you have any questions about how to use the mobile app or how to complete a Mobile Check Deposit transaction, please let us know at (785) 899-2342.

 

 

FinanceWorks - Budgeting, Expense Tracking, and Financial Goal Setting

Log in to your BankWest of Kansas internet banking account to access FinanceWorks, a free program that is included with your internet banking services.  FinanceWorks enables you to create a budget, label and track your expenses, and set and check progress on financial goals.  Click the image below for more information about FinanceWorks at BankWest of Kansas.

BankWest of Kansas Goodland Colby St. Francis - FinanceWorks - Budgeting, Tracking, and Financial Goal Setting

 

 

 

We are proud to be a locally owned and operated bank serving Western Kansas and Eastern Colorado for over 100 years. Our commitment is to provide personalized customer service with the latest banking products, services, and technology available. Our loan expertise covers agriculture, residential real estate, business, and consumer lending. We welcome you to look around our website and to come visit us at our bank.

BANKWEST OF KANSAS will NEVER initiate email or internet requests requiring customers to respond with personal information. Any requests for personal information received through email, web sites, or pop-up windows should be considered fraudulent and reported to us immediately. If you receive an email asking for your account information (ID, password, card number, etc.), DO NOT respond! If you have already given out your bank account information, report the theft of this information to the bank as quickly as possible by calling (785) 899-2342.

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