FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 19, 2011
For More Information, contact:
Joy Patterson (334) 242-7491
Alabama Attorney General
Suzanne Webb (334) 242-7351
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AG WARNS AGAINST CALLS SEEKING FINANCIAL DATA
FROM CITIZENS IN ETOWAH AND CHEROKEE COUNTIES
(MONTGOMERY) -Attorney General Luther Strange warned that citizens in
Etowah and Cherokee county are apparently being targeted by fraudulent messages
seeking private banking information. It was reported that citizens in both counties
received recorded messages that claimed their bank card accounts had been blocked,
and prompting them to enter their account numbers. Some calls were received at
midnight or later.
“Phone calls, emails, or other messages asking for account information should
send up a red flag anytime the consumer did not initiate the contact,” said Attorney
General Strange. “Other warning signs are that these calls were made after hours and
through a recorded message. Responsible and legitimate financial institutions would
not conduct business in this manner, but more likely would send a letter or make a
phone call in person to alert the consumer. In no event should the customer be asked for
their personal account information, and they should not give it. If there is an actual
problem with customer accounts, consumers should respond directly and
independently to the financial institution.”
The Attorney General recommends that consumers take the following steps to
protect themselves from identity theft:
Do not give out your social security, credit or bank card numbers to anyone you
do not know and trust. Give this information only to reputable and known
companies with whom you are conducting business, and only when you have
initiated the contact.
Dispose carefully of financial information such as charge receipts and bills. Shred
or otherwise thoroughly destroy these materials when you are discarding them.
Maintain a close watch on billing statements and check your credit record.
Consumers may obtain copies of their credit reports by visiting the website
www.annualcreditreport.com. The three major credit reporting companies can be
reached at the following numbers and websites: Equifax 1-800- 685-1111 or
www.equifax.com, TransUnion 1-800-916-8800 or www.transunion.com, and
Experian at 1-888-EXPERIA (397-3742) or www.experian.com/consumer.
501 Washington Avenue Montgomery, AL 36104 (334) 242-7300
www.ago.alabama.gov Page 2 of 2
Notify the fraud departments of the three major credit bureaus if you find
evidence of identity theft. Ask them to flag your file with a fraud alert. Review
your credit reports periodically to verify that corrections have been made to your
record and to check whether new fraud has occurred. The toll-free number for the fraud
department of Equifax is 1-800- 525-6285 and for TransUnion is 1-800-680-7289. For
Experian, call the same number as above, 1-888-EXPERIA (397-3742).
Contact the creditors with whom accounts have been fraudulently opened or
tampered with. Call and tell someone in the fraud or security department, and
follow up with written notification. Work with them to resolve errors in billing.
Close the accounts, and have secure passwords on new accounts. Do not use
passwords that are easily identified with you or that the identity thief might be able
to discern. Avoid your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, phone number, and
other predictable passwords. Do not use the same password on various accounts.
Report it to the proper authorities. If someone has stolen your mail to get
information to steal your identity, notify your federal postal inspector, and you may
file a report with the police. Keep a copy of these reports for your records.
Notify the Social Security Administration if your social security number has been
compromised. Check to make sure the record of your reported earnings is accurate.
The Social Security Administration may be contacted toll-free at 1-800-772-1213.
Information is available through the administration’s web page at www.ssa.gov.
File a report with the Federal Trade Commission, which keeps a clearinghouse of
identity theft information and has an identity theft hotline. You may receive
information and contribute to a full record of information that helps combat the
problem nationwide. The Federal Trade Commission’s identity theft hotline is 1-877-
IDTHEFT (438-4338). The FTC web page regarding this issue is
Call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Office. This Office can assist you
in working with creditors and reporting agencies if you have trouble resolving the
errors. Consumers may call toll-free to 1-800-392-5658 or access the Attorney General’s
web page at www.ago.alabama.gov.