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What Is Identity Theft?

Minimize your risk of Identity Theft

What Is Identity Theft?

Identity theft occurs when someone acquires a piece of your personal information and uses it to commit a crime. Offenses involving identity theft are on the rise. These are the crimes most frequently reported to the Federal Trade Commission today. Fraudsters commit these crimes in person, by telephone, on the Internet, or through the mail.
As technology continues to evolve, criminals are developing new ways to exploit or defraud organizations and consumers. This includes attempting to access bank and brokerage accounts online and steal credit information or identities.
Union Bank is diligent in its efforts to protect customers' information. As part of our ongoing commitment to safeguard your privacy, we continuously review and strengthen our security program, processes, and procedures.

Some examples include:
  • Requiring identification and authentication for information requests, account maintenance, and transactions conducted in person and over the phone
  • Discontinuing check verifications for third parties when account information could be compromised
  • Using ultraviolet verification equipment in our offices to detect counterfeit identification, checks, and currency
  • Posting strategic warnings online to alert our customers to recent incidents involving email and online fraud schemes
  • Actively managing a vigorous Identity Theft Prevention program to identify and respond to potential red flags of identity theft
  • Partnering with other institutions in the financial services industry to adopt best practices for fraud prevention

Steps You Can Take to Protect Yourself

Take the important steps to secure your personal information

Steps You Can Take to Protect Yourself

You are a valuable partner in identity theft prevention. We encourage you to take every precaution on your own to help secure the privacy and safety of your identity and information. Here are some important guidelines for you to follow.

Protect Your Computer and Use the Internet Wisely

  • Bank online using a computer that you know is secure and is protected with security software.
  • Ensure that your computer has security software, including a firewall; spam filter; and anti-virus, anti-malware, and anti-spyware protection. This will safeguard your computer from viruses and malware that can log your keystrokes or steal your data. Make sure the security software is up to date.
  • Be wary of WiFi hot spots at cafes, libraries, and airports that require you to enter personal or account information.
  • Never reveal personal information on Web forums, such as Facebook, MySpace™, Twitter, or blog sites. Change your privacy settings to conceal personal information, such as your date of birth.
  • Shop on secure Web sites displaying the padlock icon or green address bar that indicates the Web site is secure.
  • Create strong passwords of eight or more alpha and numeric characters for online financial accounts, and change them regularly. Avoid using the same password for all of your accounts.
  • Monitor your bank and credit card accounts frequently for unusual or unauthorized activity. Most banks and credit card issuers offer services that alert you when your accounts reach certain transaction and balance thresholds, which can help you monitor your accounts.

Be On the Alert for Fraudulent Email

  • Watch out for "phishing" emails -- fraudulent emails that may look like legitimate messages. See an example of a fraudulent email. Forward emails that request your private information to our online banking customer service department at
  • Never fill in any information in an email that contains input fields. If you have sent any personal information by email or pop-up window, call us immediately at 1-800-238-4486.
  • Be wary of emails that appear to be from friends and include a generic subject line, such as: "You really need to see these pictures." Fraudsters can steal users' address books and send malware email to every addressee.
  • Note: Union Bank will not contact you via email to ask for or to validate any personal information.
  • Be wary of offers that seem too good to be true.
  • In advance fee schemes, fraudsters ask you to pay money to someone in anticipation of receiving, in return, something of greater value, such as a car, loan, contract, investment, or gift. However, you receive little or nothing.
  • Other scams entice people to sign up to be "mystery shoppers" or with offers of employment. Victims receive fraudulent checks for thousands of dollars, with instructions to cash the checks and wire the funds to another bank. The check bounces after the money is wired, leaving the victim responsible for paying the bank back.

Use U.S. Mail Carefully

  • Pay attention to billing cycles. Call the company if you do not receive an expected bill in a timely manner. An identity thief may have diverted your bill.
  • Remove mail from your mailbox promptly.
  • Place outgoing mail in post office collection boxes only. Even better, consider using Online Banking with Bill Pay to send payments. By making payments online, you can help prevent mail fraud while saving time and postage costs.
  • Shred documents containing personal information, including pre-approved credit offers, old bank statements, canceled checks, and ATM receipts. Union Bank offers online statements for checking, savings, and money market accounts. For more information, visit

Safeguard Your Cards and Accounts

  • Report any lost or stolen cards immediately.
  • Check your credit report at least once a year to be sure it's accurate and up to date. If your report shows new accounts you didn't open, numerous inquiries from creditors, or negative items, take action immediately.
  • Go paperless. Electronic statements and invoices minimize the number of hard copy documents that bear your personal information and could get into the wrong hands.
  • Memorize your PINs and change them regularly. Don't carry them in your purse or wallet.
  • Sign up for account activity alerts. Online Banking alerts, which we send you by email or text message, will help you monitor your account activity. To learn more about Online Banking alerts, visit

Protect Your Social Security Number

  • Don't print your Social Security number or driver's license number on your checks.
  • Keep your Social Security card in a safe place, instead of carrying it in your wallet.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

  • Pay attention to anyone who may be listening when you make purchases by phone or give your Social Security number for identification.
  • Never give out personal information, such as your Social Security number, account numbers, or PIN, in emails or during phone calls unless you personally initiated the contact. Thieves can hack into your list of email contacts and pose as trusted contacts to get information.
  • Store Social Security cards, unused credit cards, checks, and personal documents in a safe place, rather than in your wallet.

Steps to Take If You Suspect Identity Theft

Report Identity Theft
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