Keep your financial details safe and secure
to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft.
What do you do if you think you’ve been targeted by identity theft?
If you think you’ve been a victim of identity theft, please call the number on the back of your Card immediately.
What is identity theft?
Identity theft occurs when someone obtains personal information without your consent. This can include your name, address, date of birth, driver’s license number, Credit or Charge Card number, telephone number or other Account numbers. Identity thieves can use this information to open credit accounts, Credit or Charge Card accounts, telephone service accounts, and make major purchases in your name, as well as allowing them to take over existing accounts or to open new accounts. This can damage your credit rating and lead to denials of credit and job offers.
Preventing identity theft
To help you stay protected, here are some easy ways to defend against identity theft.
Secure your personal information
Consider keeping your sensitive personal information such as bank, mortgage, credit or charge card statements, passwords, and other documents, in a safe location accessible only to you. Immediately sign the back of any Credit or Charge Card statements and new Cards.
Never let anyone else use your Cards and don’t share passwords or your PIN with anyone else. Remove personal information from all devices before disposing of them.
Frequently monitor your Account activity online
Accessing your Account online is a great way to stay up-to-date on recent charges. We offer Card Members Account Alerts, including regular balance updates by email or SMS. Click here to enrol. Use the American Express Mobile App to manage your Account, check your balance and view your transactions on the go.
Shred documents containing personal information
Shred any potentially sensitive papers before discarding them to prevent dumpster diving. Be sure to destroy any old or expired bank cards by cutting them up.
Obtain a credit report every 6-12 months
Review your credit report from each of the major credit bureaus once every 6-12 months. Check for any inaccurate information, or any transactions that you were not aware of or didn’t authorise.
When reviewing all of your credit reports, make sure you:
Ask how your personal information will be used when it is requested over the phone
Identity thieves may pose as a representative of a legitimate organisation and may contact you to “verify” your information. If you’re in doubt about the authenticity of the person, contact the company by phone and talk to a representative.
Carry only the information you need
Only take with you the cards you need, and avoid carrying your birth certificate or passport, unless you need them.
Have New Zealand Post hold your mail if you’re going to be gone for more than a few days
Identity thieves have been known to obtain personal information by collecting an individual’s mail. Promptly remove your incoming mail from your mailbox and place outgoing mail in post office collection boxes. Install a locking mailbox if mail theft is a problem in your neighbourhood.
Use unique passwords and PINs
Avoid using identical passwords for different accounts. Don’t use easily available information such as mother’s maiden name, date of birth, or the last four digits of your Driver’s License Number. Use passwords on your banking and brokerage accounts, and update all of your passwords regularly.
Report any missing Cards
Let us know immediately if you’ve lost your Card. We’ll immediately cancel the Card to prevent fraudulent transactions.
Don’t take risks when shopping online
Only use secure web pages when shopping. A web page is secure if there is a locked padlock in the lower right-hand corner of your browser, or if the address starts with ‘https’, where the ‘s’ stands for secure.
What you can do if you’ve been a victim of identity theft
It’s important to take action right away if you think you may have been a victim of identity theft.
Here’s what you can do.
Contact the police
Identity theft is a serious crime, and the police will need to investigate. You will also want to obtain a copy of the police report, the police report number, and the name of the investigator. Banks, credit card companies, and other agencies may require this information as proof of a crime.
When filing a police report, provide as much documentation as you can to prove you’ve been a victim of identity theft. Documentation including collection letters and credit reports can help the police create a thorough report.
If the identity theft occurred while you were away from home, you may also need to file a police report in the jurisdiction where the theft actually occurred.
Get a copy of the police report to submit to your creditors and others that may require proof of a crime.
Contact the credit bureaus
Notify the credit bureaus that you believe you’ve been a victim of identity theft, and request that your file be flagged with a “Fraud Alert.”
Request copies of your credit report from each bureau to review. If any information contained within your report is inaccurate, you may dispute it and request that it be changed.
Request your credit report again a few months later. This will help confirm that the requested changes have been made, and let you know if your report has been changed without your knowledge. This may also identify additional occurrences of identity theft.
Close suspect accounts
Immediately contact your Account providers and close any accounts you know or suspect involve identity fraud. Don’t forget this includes utility providers as well as banks.
Credit accounts and ATM cards
Report the incident to all institutions with which you hold credit card and ATM cards. Ask the financial institution or agency to send you a fraud dispute form to complete. When reopening new accounts, be sure to use new PINs to reduce the risk of future identity theft.
If your financial institution is not assisting you with the issues related to your identity theft, you may contact the agency with jurisdiction over your financial institution.
Keep in mind that each creditor may have its own process for handling a case of identity theft. Therefore, be sure to specifically ask each creditor what its process is, what is expected of you, and what you can expect from them.
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