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Identity Theft

Identity theft occurs when your personal information (anything from your Social Security or bank account numbers to your name and address) is stolen and the thief is able to use your information to commit fraud or theft, potentially damaging your credit record and good name in the process. The affect on the lives of victims of identity theft can be devastating. When identities are stolen, victims can spend months or years trying to clean up the horrible mess.

The most common examples of identity theft include credit card fraud, phone or utility fraud, bank fraud, employment-related fraud, government document or benefit fraud and loan fraud.

Identity theft is not strictly an online crime. Some of the most successful thieves employ low-tech methods such as stealing your mail, checking your garbage for receipts and statements or grabbing your purse or wallet.

General Prevention Tips

Follow these tips to help protect yourself from Identity Theft:

  • Carry only necessary information with you. Leave your Social Security card and unused credits cards at home in a safe and secure location.
  • Make photocopies (front and back) of vital information you carry regularly and store them in a secure place, such as a safe deposit box. Then, if your purse or wallet is lost or stolen, you have contact information and account numbers readily available.
  • Do not provide your Social Security number unless absolutely necessary.
  • Never use your Social Security number, telephone or drivers license number on checks.
  • If you are uncomfortable with a phone call that was not initiated by you, hang up or ask for the purpose of the call. Then contact the company using legitimate sources such as contact phone numbers found on the company’s website, your bank statements, and those listed on your ATM, debit or credit card.
  • Never write your ATM and/or credit card PIN on the cards. Choose PINs that are not part of your Social Security number, date of birth, street address, etc.
  • Be aware of anyone attempting to get your PIN by "shoulder surfing" at an ATM or in-store credit/debit card scanner.
  • Promptly retrieve incoming mail and place outgoing mail in a U.S. Postal Service mailbox, instead of your home mailbox, to reduce the chance of mail theft.
  • Replace paper invoices, statements and checks with electronic versions, if offered by your employer, bank, utility provider or merchant.
  • Open all bills and bank statements when received and review for possible fraudulent charges or activity
  • Know your billing and statement cycles. Contact the company’s customer service department if you stop receiving your regular bill or statement. Someone may have filed a false change-of-address form to divert your information to his/her address.
  • Invest in a cross-cut document shredder and use it to destroy old statements, bills, receipts and pre-approved credit card offers before discarding them. Many fraud and identity theft incidents happen as a result of mail and garbage theft.
  • Review your credit report at least once a year, looking for suspicious or unknown transactions. You can get a free credit report once a year from each of the three major credit bureaus at www.annualcreditreport.com.

    You can obtain a copy at any time directly from:

Reporting Identity Theft

National Penn will never ask you to confirm your account number, PIN, password or any other personal information via email, text or phone call. If you are concerned that you have received fraudulent email, disclosed confidential information or have questions about online security, please contact the National Penn’s Customer Service at 1.800.822.3321.

Contact the fraud department of any of the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit file. The fraud alert requests creditors to contact you before opening any new accounts or making any changes to your existing accounts.

Next, close the accounts that you know or believe have been tampered with, and file a police report – be sure to retain a copy for your records. Also, contact all your banks, credit card issuers and other creditors on your own to help protect your rights.

If you suspect your Social Security number has been compromised, call the Social Security Administration hotline at 877-438-4338 or www.ssa.gov.

Finally, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft which maintains a database of identity theft cases used by law enforcement for investigations, and can advise you on your next steps. The FTC may also be reached at 877.382.4357.

Additional Resources

Here are some phone numbers and links to help you learn more about how to protect yourself from identity theft and what to do if it happens to you.

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