theft occurs when someone unlawfully obtains your personal information
with the intent to commit fraud. Information such as name, date
of birth, social security number, mother's maiden name, etc.,
can help a thief impersonate another individual. Once this person
has access to this information, he/she can commit different
kinds of fraud, including accessing bank accounts, obtaining
loans, making purchases, etc.
9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year.* You
can help protect yourself from becoming the next victim.
theft has become the number one reason for consumer complaints,
according to the Federal Trade Commission - costing the average
consumer $1,000 to clear his or her name.
Principal Trust Company, we want to help you secure your financial
future. We work hard to safeguard your personal information. It's
also important that you learn how you can protect yourself from
becoming a victim of this crime.
businesses of The Principal® continually enhance how we protect
your confidentiality. Some examples of what we do include:
call centers have procedures in place to help validate the
identity of callers.
ensuring that no Social Security numbers are contained in
correspondence, unless legally required.
conduct regular training with our employees on how to detect
follow strict standards that limit access to data and regularly
test our security technology.
you suspect you're a victim of identity theft
the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by phone at 1-877-IDTHEFT.
The FTC handles complaints from victims of identity theft and
can help you by referring you to credit bureau and law enforcement
additional things you should consider doing:
the three major consumer-reporting companies to request a
Fraud Alert be placed on your credit file. A fraud alert requires
creditors to verify your identity before opening any new accounts
in your name or changing any existing accounts. You will only
need to contact one consumer reporting company to do this
– that company will notify the others.
should also request a copy of your credit report when placing
the fraud alert on your credit file. Consumer reporting companies
are required to provide a free credit report to victims of
identity theft. Request one from each company to see if any
accounts have been opened without your consent. If there are
accounts fraudulently opened, notify the consumer reporting
company and the business where the account was opened. Once
your dispute is resolved, the consumer reporting company will
send you a new copy of your credit report for your review
to ensure your file has been corrected. The victim assistance
phone numbers and websites for the three consumer reporting
companies are as follows:
Contact your local police department and ask to file a report.
This can help convince creditors that someone else opened
an account in your name.
other creditors by phone to let them know of the possibility
of fraudulent activity on your accounts and follow-up with
a written letter. Closely monitor all of your accounts. Any
discrepancies should immediately be reported.
any accounts that may have been tampered with and reopen them
with new account numbers and passwords.
If you experience fraud or suspect a breach of
our fraud hotline at 1.800.642.3788 or report
unethical or fraudulent activity online.
your "Identity IQ"
addition to the steps we take at Principal Trust to prevent identity
theft, your actions are critical in protecting yourself. When
you know how identity thieves operate, you can make it less likely
you'll become their next victim. Many believe identity theft can
only happen to those individuals who shop, communicate or do business
online. However, experts say your mailbox and garbage are the
easiest ways criminals can access your personal information. In
fact, checking on your financial status online may mean you can
discover a potential fraud situation earlier.
improve your "Identity IQ," ask yourself the questions
below. If you answer yes to any of them, the suggested actions
on the right can help to reduce your risks.
that put you at risk for identity theft
ways to minimize your risk
your driver's license number your Social Security number?
your driver's license number to a random number.
you carry your Social Security card in your purse or wallet?
Store your Social Security card in a safe place.
you have your Social Security number or driver's license
number printed on your personal checks?
new checks that do not include this information.
you give out personal information over the telephone such
as your Social Security number or date of birth?
give out personal information unless you initiated the call
to make sure you're giving it to a legitimate person and
only as needed.
you provide your Social Security number whenever asked,
without asking questions as to how that information will
giving out your Social Security number the next time, make
sure you know how it will be used and how it will be protected.
it been more than a year since you've ordered a copy of
your credit report?
a report at least once a year to check that others aren't
applying for credit under your name.
you set out your trash the night before pickup?
until morning to set out your trash. Dumpster divers can
find a wealth of personal information in your trash while
no one's looking. Shred any personal documents before throwing
you throw away credit card offers or other financial solicitations?
the information or tear it up before throwing it away.
you place outgoing mail in an unsecured mailbox?
a secure, official Postal Service collection box instead
to prevent thieves from using your mail to steal your identity.
you planning to be out of town or away from home for several
you are going to be out of town or away from your home for
any reason, have your mail held at the post office until
you casually glance at bank statements, credit card statements
or other financial documents?
sure you carefully review them each time to detect any unusual
activity. Also, pay attention to when you should receive
statements in the mail. If you don't receive them on time,
it could be a sign a thief has redirected your mail to another
you carry a military ID in your wallet at all times?
Carry your military ID only when absolutely necessary.
you planning to upgrade your computer?
Be sure to use software that will overwrite any information
on your hard drive before you throw or give it away. Your
personal information may still be accessible if you simply
you use the Internet or make on-line purchases?
give out your password to anyone. Make sure you're dealing
with reputable sites and use fraud protection tools your
credit card company provides, such as passwords or purchase
you have children?
your children to check with you before giving out personal
information on the phone or the Internet. Encourage
them to look for privacy policies on the web sites they
visit that ask for information about them. Many sites for
children require approval from a parent before gathering
information, but many still do not.
you use easily available information such as your mother's
maiden name, date of birth, or the last four digits of your
Social Security number for passwords?
unique passwords that are easy for you to remember, but
would be difficult for others to guess.
your account numbers, PINs, and passwords
share your PINs, usernames or passwords with anyone. Be cautious
of e-mails or individuals who ask for this information. The
Principal will never ask for your personal password via e-mail
from writing account numbers or PINs down. If you do need
to write these down, put them in a safe and secure place and
do not carry them in your wallet.
one secure records storage place in your home to keep all
of your financial records. This could be in a drawer or a
file cabinet. It is better if you can lock this storage place.
Keep all of the following items in this storage place:
account statements and new and cancelled checks.
photocopy of the front and back of all of your credit
cards and ATM/debit cards. This will be helpful if you
ever need to contact the issuers about a problem with
the card or if one is lost or stolen.
the keypad with your hand or body while entering your PIN
at an ATM.
wait for all ATM and credit card receipts. Do not leave them
at the ATM or store counter. Avoid any ATM that appears to
have any additional hardware affixed to it.
all passwords regularly using a mix of numbers and characters.
Your password is more secure and harder for criminals to guess
if you include a special character (like an asterisk or an
exclamation point). Memorize passwords and write them down
only in a secure place.
lost or stolen checks, cards, deposit tickets or statements
immediately to your financial institution.
Purchase checks from your bank’s suggested vendor instead
of an unfamiliar vendor that may not be as reliable.
and balance your account statements on a regular basis. Watch
for any transactions showing unfamiliar payees and amounts
you do not recognize. The more often you review your statements,
the simpler it will be to detect fraudulent activity on your
account. If you have Internet access to any of your accounts,
including your accounts with Principal Trust, review the activity
in these accounts on a regular basis.
not write the full account number in correspondence to or
on checks written for payment on an account to a creditor.
For example, it is best to write only the last four to eight
digits of a credit card account number on the check. Rather
than writing a check, it is better to use a bank's online
bill pay features and/or an automatic ACH capability to further
minimize correspondence by mail.
Always report any unknown activity or unauthorized transactions
on your accounts to your financial institution immediately.
a secure location, keep a list of all of your account numbers
and telephone numbers to call if your cards are lost or stolen.
photocopies of vital information you carry on a regular basis
and store them in a secure place.
do business with companies you know and trust.
yourself to the National Do Not Call Registry to limit telemarketing
calls you receive.
your credit report
Trust recommends that you check your credit rating regularly with
each of the three major credit bureaus. Consider ordering a credit
report from one of the three nationwide consumer-reporting companies
every four months. By rotating from one agency to the next, you
can have year-round monitoring. If you have joint credit with
your spouse, you can alternate between you and your spouse and
between the three consumer-reporting companies and check your
credit bureau report every other month.
amendment to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires
each of the nationwide consumer-reporting companies to provide
you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once
every 12 months, from www.annualcreditreport.com.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation's consumer protection
agency, has prepared a brochure, Your
Access to Free Credit Reports, explaining your rights and
how to order a free annual credit report. Additional information,
including your credit score, will cost extra but the credit report
itself is free.
credit report contains information on where you live, how you
pay your bills, and whether you've been sued, arrested, or filed
for bankruptcy. Nationwide consumer reporting companies sell the
information in your report to creditors, insurers, employers,
and other businesses that use it to evaluate your credit.
credit report is available for a small fee from:
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
P.O. Box 949
Allen, TX 75013-0949
P.O. Box 1000
Chester, PA 19022
not use the same password on other websites that you use for
more sensitive, secure sites, such as your online banking.
If other sites are not secure, your password could be compromised.
PINs and passwords that are not a duplicate of other personal
information (i.e. social security numbers, birth date, etc.)
a password that is easy for you to remember, but that is difficult
for others to guess. Do not use information about yourself
that others can easily find out.
at least 6 characters and it is a good idea to vary the types
of characters in your passwords, if possible. Using combinations
of capital letters, numbers and symbols makes passwords much
more difficult to figure out.
more information about identity theft, see the following websites:
Trade Commission and Better Business Bureau - 2007