Why you need to enroll in Identity/Fraud Protection services
Is Your Information Secure? How Identity/Fraud Protection Services Can Benefit You
Fraud is on the upswing. A February 2022 report from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported that fraud-related losses of all types increased more than 70% between 2020 and 2021.1 And while some schemes are immediately apparent — that sinking feeling you shouldn't have given money to someone claiming to be your niece — others don't come to light until you're denied a mortgage loan or find out you have a judgment against you. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help protect yourself.
Check your credit report regularly
This is one of the first places fraud might show up, but unless you look, you won't know. When you check your credit report, here is what you should look for:
1. Verify all your personal information is correct:
- Phone number
- Birth date
- Social Security number
- Employment information
2. Scan the accounts to make sure they all belong to you:
- Credit cards
- Mortgage loans
- Auto loans
- Personal loans
- Home equity lines of credit
3. Confirm this information is accurate:
- Status of account (for example, one you've closed that is marked open)
- Credit limits or balances that look off
- Account holder status, including primary account holder and authorized users
4. See if you have any unrecognized inquiries.
- If you've applied for a loan or credit card, that information will legitimately appear.
- If you see company names that you haven't requested to pull your credit, someone could be applying for credit in your name.
5. Look at the public records.
- This can yield another clue that someone is wreaking havoc on your personal finances.
- Make sure there aren't any unrecognized bankruptcies, foreclosures, judgments, liens or civil suits listed.
Your credit score can be used to calculate your automobile and home insurance rates and can potentially be viewed by an employer or landlord.
Go through this exercise with your credit report from all three credit report companies. You can access reports via AnnualCreditReport.com2, which is offering free weekly online reports3 from the three credit bureaus through December 2023.
Report any discrepancies
If the information is wrong (such as a credit card you don't recognize), you'll need to contact both the credit agencies and the company that supplied the misinformation to get it removed. Here are the websites where you can start making your inquiries:
And be sure to report any bank-related fraud immediately.
Follow up to ensure the misinformation is corrected
While credit monitoring agencies are required to fix errors, you should confirm the fix didn't fall through the cracks. By law, the credit agencies must respond to inquiries within 30 days. Here is some information7 that will help you file a dispute.
Use your credit report to improve your financial health
A high credit score is the key to getting better interest rates and terms on financial products, like credit cards and mortgage or auto loans. It's also sometimes used to calculate your automobile and home insurance rates, and it potentially could be viewed by an employer or landlord. That's why you want to scrutinize your credit report and get errors fixed promptly.
By regularly reviewing your credit, you can see where there's room to improve your financial habits, such as:
- Always making all your payments on time.
- Staying under your cards' credit utilization rate.
- Not applying for too many cards, especially store cards or others that don't offer benefits.
Take steps to protect yourself from fraud
Fraud can wreak havoc on your life as criminals use your name to open bank or credit card accounts, apply for loans, and even file taxes. While it can happen to anyone, there are some steps you can take to secure your information. Here are four main ones to start with:
- Use strong passwords for all your accounts. One of the most common ways that thieves compromise your accounts is by figuring out your password. To greatly reduce the chances of this happening, choose a complex password that combines digits, letters and special characters — and change your passwords frequently.
- Don't click on links you don't recognize. It's easy to be caught off guard by these scams, known as “phishing," when you click on a link that takes you to a fake website that's ready to capture any information you share.
- Don't give out personal information over the phone. Even if it appears your bank or the IRS is calling you, don't share your Social Security number, password, or PIN codes over the phone. If anyone asks for personal data and you're not sure, hang up and look up the phone number independently so you are sure you're connecting with the right person. And remember: No reputable financial institution — including Synovus — will ever make an unsolicited call, email or text requesting personal information. If someone does, always double-check by calling us back.
- Shred personal papers before recycling them. Whether it's a bank statement or credit card solicitation, there's enough information there to set up a criminal for success. And collect your mail regularly, or — even better —go paperless with electronic statements that save trees (and maybe your identity).
Consider signing up for credit monitoring
Does remembering to regularly scan your credit report sound exhausting? Another option: Choose a service that will do the credit monitoring for you.
For example, as a Synovus Plus, Synovus Inspire, or Synovus Private Wealth customer, you can enroll in complimentary Credit and Identity Protection services. With this service, Synovus will monitor your credit reports and notify you any time any changes are made. Synovus will also scan the web to make sure your personal information hasn't been compromised by checking websites, blogs, peer-to-peer networks. Synovus also offers full-service identity restoration if you become a victim of identity theft.
Want to know more about how you can achieve peace of mind as a Synovus customer? Get your personal code by talking with your Synovus advisor and then enroll here.
Important disclosure information
This content is general in nature and does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. You are encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific circumstances. We do not make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability for your use of this information.
- “New Data Shows FTC Received 2.8 Million Fraud Reports from Consumers in 2022," FTC, published February 22, 2022, accessed October 31, 2022. Back
- AnnualCreditReport.com, accessed October 31, 2022. Back
- Cathlin Tully, “Free weekly credit reports during COVID extended through December 2023," FTC, published March 16, 2021, accessed October 31, 2022. Back
- "Contact Us," Experian, accessed October 31, 2022. Back
- Equifax.com, accessed October 19, 2022. Back
- TransUnion.com, accessed October 19, 2022. Back
- "Disputing Errors on Your Credit Reports," FTC, published May 2021, accessed October 26, 2022. Back
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