What You Need to Know About Identity Theft

Posted on July 28, 2022

A young man reading about identity theft.

More and more Americans are falling victim to identity theft every year. Here’s how opening a Partners Financial FCU premium checking account can help keep you safe.

Identity Theft: What You Need to Know

The risk of falling victim to identity theft has never been higher. As people become more reliant on the internet for essential services like banking and healthcare, criminals are taking advantage of increased opportunities to steal account numbers, access credit, and even defraud people of their savings, benefits, or stimulus payments.

Let’s take a look at what identity theft is, how it happens, what the consequences are, and how Partners Financial FCU’s premium checking account services can help protect you.

What Is Identity Theft?

Identity theft involves someone obtaining your personal or financial data and using it illegally for their personal gain. Identity theft crimes have skyrocketed as people have come to rely more heavily on the internet for personal services like banking, paying bills, and managing their healthcare.

How Common Is Identity Theft?

A report by the AARP found that almost 42 million Americans were victims of traditional identity theft in 2021, costing consumers a total of $52 billion in total losses.

This included a 79% increase in cases where victims’ information was stolen from third parties without their knowledge, such as through computer hacks. Fraud involving existing credit cards rose 69%, costing consumers an estimated $9.3 billion.

Cases are only reported where the fraud has been discovered, so the real number of victims is likely far higher.

How Does Identity Theft Happen?

Identity theft and identity fraud happen when criminals obtain personal information that can be used to carry out financial transactions without your permission. Examples of this type of information include:

  • Your name, age, and address
  • Your social security number
  • Your credit card number
  • Bank account, investment, and taxation details.

Common ways to steal your identity include:

  • “Phishing” scams, where you are tricked into revealing sensitive information through deceptive emails or phone calls
  • Intercepting your private messages, emails, or even paper mail
  • Overhearing or watching you enter account numbers or PINs in public
  • Computer viruses or malware installed on your computer
  • Hacking computer systems belonging to banks, insurers, merchants, or governments

The AARP study found, however, that identity fraud scams including phishing and other types where the victim is deceived into revealing information fell by almost a third in 2021. Yet still, it continues to account for almost $28 billion in losses.

Instead, criminals are using increasingly advanced techniques to evade detection and steal consumers’ information without their knowledge. For example, the AARP study found that identity fraud involving existing checking, savings, insurance, or other accounts totaled $7.8 billion in 2021—an increase of 73% from 2020.

This highlights the importance of partnering with reputable banks and credit unions that take identity theft seriously by offering robust tools to monitor and combat it.

Partners Financial FCU, for example, offers members with premium checking accounts:

  • Monitoring of credit scores at all three major bureaus, includes alerts for new credit inquiries or lines of credit opened in your name.
  • Monitoring of online networks and the “dark web” to determine if your information is being shared illegally.

Identity Theft Consequences/Cost

Identity theft can result in significant financial losses to consumers, although reputable banks will offer free stop payments and other anti-fraud services. Still, the AARP study found the direct average per-victim loss to identity fraud rose by $201 in 2021 to $1,551.

That could be a devastating blow to your finances. But this doesn’t even account for the indirect costs of identity theft, including:

  • Damage to your credit score
  • Loss of interest or capital for investments
  • Additional fees, such as overdraft charges
  • Time spent resolving fraud issues
  • Physical, mental, and emotional stress

For example, victims spent an average of nine hours resolving identity theft issues in 2021. And, where criminals open a fake account in someone else’s name, it can take an average of 16 hours to dispute fake charges.

Consequences can be even more severe if criminals use your information to:

  • Set up recurring debits on your accounts
  • Open credit cards
  • Take out loans or lines of credit
  • Tap your retirement accounts, investments, or benefits
  • Rent an apartment or file a false tax return in your name

Partners Financial FCU understands the burden identity theft can place on you and your family. The credit union offers premium checking account holders:

  • Identity theft recovery services for account holders and their dependents
  • Identity theft insurance offering up to $25,000 to cover related expenses

Identity Theft Protection

Research shows that criminals are targeting online banking and financial accounts using sophisticated techniques to steal identities without the victims’ knowledge. What can you do to protect yourself?

In addition to active credit and information monitoring plus identity theft recovery and insurance, look for banks and credit unions that take security seriously. Find out:

  • Who is responsible for unauthorized payments on your account?
  • Who pays for emergency stop orders or overdraft fees?
  • How much will it cost to replace compromised credit and debit cards?

Partners Financial FCU places our members’ security first. Premium checking account holders qualify for:

  • Free stop orders for both checks and automatic clearing house transactions
  • Free replacement debit cards
  • Overdraft protection service

Choose Premium Checking for Safe Banking

At Partners Financial FCU, our premium checking account is designed to make financial security both easy and affordable. We help members plan for and recover from the effects of identity theft.

Our premium checking account also offers:

  • Consumer loan discounts
  • Mobile phone coverage
  • Free checks

Click below more to learn about the extraordinary benefits our premium checking accounts offer our members.

Premium Checking

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