Advice & Resources
You are the best person to protect your personal information because you control the information you release. Some easy ways to protect yourself are to keep anything with your personal or account information in a safe place, provide your information only to trusted sources and reduce the amount of mail you receive with personal information.
For more information on preventing fraud visit our Identity Theft Coach or our Security Education Center. The following information provides additional steps and resources for protecting your personal identity.
Use this Table of Contents to find your answers:
- Online Fraud
- Check Scams
- Reviewing Your Credit Report
- Opting Out of Pre-Approved Credit Offers
- If You Fall Victim to Identity Theft
Palmetto Citizens will never contact you to solicit personal or private information through e-mail or the telephone. Any person or electronic media requesting your personal information, and claiming to be from Palmetto Citizens is fraudulent. If you receive such a solicitation, please contact us immediately at 803-732-5000.
Thousands of forged emails are sent out all over the world every day – it is a technique called "phishing." They ask you to supply, confirm or update personal information by clicking on a link provided in the email. The link will connect you to a web page or login that appears to belong to the company mentioned in the email. This is referred to as a "spoofed" site. Often the site looks just like the company's site -- but it's not. The spoof may be a pop up window or an embedded image over the actual site.
Protect yourself and do not respond to the email or click on the link provided. The goal of the criminals is to get you to enter your personal data so they can steal your identity. If you provide the information they requested, you may find that your identity has be stolen within a matter a minutes.
Palmetto Citizens will never ask you to verify or update your account information by email or online (except when logging into PC NetExpress).
Verified by Visa is the easy new way to enjoy added security for all your online Visa card purchases. We are pleased to offer you this great service at no additional charge.
For more information on fake check scams and how to protect yourself, please click here.
How to avoid a counterfeit check scam:
- Throw away any offer that asks you to pay for a prize or a gift. If it's free or a gift, you shouldn't have to pay for it.
- Resist the urge to enter foreign lotteries. It's illegal to play a foreign lottery through the mail or the telephone, and most foreign lottery solicitations are phony.
- Know who you're dealing with, and never wire money to strangers.
- If you're selling something, don't accept a check for more than the selling price, no matter how tempting the offer or convincing the story. If the buyer refuses to send the correct amount, return the check and don't send the merchandise.
- If you accept payment by check, ask for a check drawn on a local financial institution, or one with a local office. That way, you can make a personal visit to make sure the check is valid. If that's not possible, call the bank where the check was purchased, and ask if it is valid. Get the bank's phone number from directory assistance or online, not from the check or from the person who gave you the check.
- If the buyer insists that you wire back funds, end the transaction immediately. Legitimate buyers don't pressure you to wire money. In addition, you have little recourse if there's a problem with a wire transaction.
- Resist any pressure to "act now." If the buyer's offer is good now, it should be good after the check clears.
It is important that you understand the information on your credit report, regardless of your financial situation. This information directly impacts your ability to obtain a credit card, buy a car or home, rent an apartment or even get a job. Two of the best reasons for reviewing your credit report are to make sure it is accurate and to protect you from fraud or identity theft.
You can get a free credit report from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) every 12 months. Some consumers elect to get a report from one of the three credit bureaus every four months, providing a staggered look at their credit status.
The official web site, www.annualcreditreport.com, is the ONLY authorized online source for you to get a free credit report under federal law. Some other sites claim to offer "free" reports but may charge you for another product if you accept the "free" report. You may also receive your free credit report by calling 1-877-322-8228.
You can remove your name from any list compiled by a credit reporting agency that can be resold and used for pre-approved credit offers. This action is referred to as "opting out." To opt out, visit www.optoutprescreen.com or call the toll-free number: (888) 5OPTOUT or (888) 567-8688. This website and phone number can be used to remove your name from all three agencies. You may also visit each agency's website for their opting out instructions.
Consumers should buy a cross-cut shredder and use it often! Someone can steal your identity and rack up thousands of dollars against you just by going through your trash. The Federal Trade Commission suggests shredding the following documents:
- Expired Credit Cards
- Checks and Account Statements
- Copies of Credit Applications
- Credit Offers You Receive in the Mail
- Physician Statements
- Insurance Forms
- Charge Receipts
Free Document Shredding - Learn more about future dates for these special no-cost events. In 2012, we helped nearly 3,000 consumers shred 73.5 tons of personal information.
If someone has stolen your identity, the Federal Trade Commission recommends that you take the following three actions immediately:
- Contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus. Tell them to flag your file with a fraud alert including a statement that creditors should get your permission before opening any new accounts in your name. Also, ask for copies of your credit reports. Credit bureaus must give you a free copy of your report if it is inaccurate because of fraud. Review your reports carefully to make sure no additional fraudulent accounts have been opened in your name or unauthorized changes made to your existing accounts. In a few months, order new copies of your reports to verify your corrections and changes, and to make sure no new fraudulent activity has occurred.
Credit Bureau Contacts: Credit Bureau Report Fraud Order Credit Report Website Equifax (800) 525-6285 (800) 685-1111 www.equifax.com Experian (888) EXPERIAN (397-3742) (888) EXPERIAN (397-3742) www.experian.com TransUnion (800) 680-7289 (800) 916-8800 www.tuc.com
- Contact the creditors for any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. Ask to speak with someone in the security or fraud department, and follow up in writing. Following up with a letter is one of the procedures spelled out in the Fair Credit Billing Act for resolving errors on credit billing statements, including charges that you have not made.
- File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place. Keep a copy in case your creditors need proof of the crime.