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Identity Theft Prevention

Learn how to protect yourself

Identity theft occurs when someone uses personal information such as your name, Social Security number, credit card number or other identifying information without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes.


What Is It?

Identity theft occurs when someone uses personal information such as your name, Social Security Number, credit card number or other identifying information without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes. It can take vicitims of identity theft years to undo the damage done to their finances and credit histories.


Red Flags

If you are a victim of identity theft, often the first tip-off may be receiving statement for accounts you didn’t open, denial of credit or calls from collections agencies on delinquent accounts.

Red flags that your information may have been compromised include:

  • Home or auto burglary
  • Stolen wallets or purses
  • Stolen mail
  • Providing information to someone pretending to be from a legitimate company who turns out to be a fraudster
  • A "change of address" form set up in your name to divert your mail to another location
  • Credit and debit card numbers stolen by a "skimming" device at an ATM or at a store register


What to Do If You Are a Victim of Identity Theft

Contact Columbia Bank Immediately
If you suspect identity theft, we can freeze your account and block transactions. The sooner we have a record of the incident, the better. When you contact us, we will involve our Security Department on your behalf.

Set Up a Folder or Log and Keep Detailed Records
Include a log of every action you take, copies of all correspondence and/or forms you receive or send, names and contact information or everyone you contact as well as all information surrounding the contact—date, time of day and resulting action or activity. This process can be overwhelming and the more organized you are from the beginning, the easier and less confusing it will be. Keep track of the financial loss to you. Keep all supporting documents.

Report Identity Theft to the Authorities
Identity theft is a serious crime. Report it to your local police department. File a police report and obtain a case number. Be persistent about getting a case number because it can be of tremendous help to you in correcting your credit rating. ID theft is a felony and charges may be filed against the thief in the county where you live.

Contact All Creditors
Do this by phone and in writing (save copies of the letters) to be sure they are properly informed. This includes: the power company, phone company, garbage collection, cable or satellite television provider, Internet provider, landlord, mortgage company, credit card issuer, etc. Contact anyone you pay a bill to or obtain a service from. Wherever possible ask to speak to the company's fraud department. They may advise you to close your account(s) and open a new one(s). Be sure to ask your bank what their procedures are for re-establishing account relationships in cases where automatic payment was being used.

Contact the Three Major Credit Reporting Agencies
Contact the fraud department at each agency to report the identity theft. Ask for a "Fraud Alert Victim Impact" statement to be placed in your credit file asking that creditors call you before opening any new accounts. (Each agency will need the police report/case number to activate the fraud alert.) Request that a copy of your credit report be sent to you.

Contact Social Security
The Social Security Administration’s fraud hotline is 1-800-269-0271.

Contact the State Office of the Department of Motor Vehicles
Contact the DMV to see if another license was issued in your name. If so, request a new license and fill out the DMV's complaint form to begin the fraud investigation process.

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