ID Theft

Hot Topics

Holiday Shopping Safety Tips

The Holidays are approaching and it’s time to go shopping for those special gifts. Below are some tips to help protect your personal information and shop wisely.

Online Shopping

  • Shop Trusted Names.  Stick with sites like, or other familiar retailers.
    Beware of misspellings or domain names using “.net” instead of “.com” as that is one of the most common ways scammers trick consumers.
  • Don’t Share Too Much.  An extremely important online shopping safety tip is keeping your personal information protected. No store needs your social security number or your birthday. In the hands of the wrong person, combined with your debit or credit card number, serious damage can be done. Always give up the least amount of personal information possible.
  • Check Billing Statements.  Check statements for credit and debit cards as well as checking accounts regularly. If you see any charges you don’t recognize, address the matter immediately. Don’t pay credit card bills until you know all your charges are accurate.
  • Use Strong Passwords.  With so many online accounts—banking, credit cards, email—it’s common practice to recycle simple passwords that can be easily recalled.  Change online passwords several times a year.  Use different passwords for each online account

Click here for some other helpful shopping tips.


Charity Fraud Awareness

Make sure your money goes to the worthy causes you seek to support, not to fraudsters.  Here are a few tips to avoid donating to a false charity:

  • Look up the organization online and read what others are saying about it. Search the charity’s name with the terms “scam” or “complaint.”
  • Check out the charity’s ratings with groups like the Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch and Guide Star.  Click here to learn more
  • Verify that the organization is registered with your state charity regulator. Most states require charities or their fundraisers to register before they can ask for donations.


Cyber Security Awareness
In today’s digital world, online safety should be on the top of your list because the threats posed by cyber criminals can’t be ignored.  There are steps you can take to minimize the risks associated with doing any kind of business online, surfing the Internet, and/or sharing information on social media sites.

Here are a few quick tips:

  • Change online passwords several times a year.  Use different passwords for each online account.
  • Remember that once personal information has been posted to a social networking site, that information can no longer be considered private and can be used for criminal purposes.
  • Links in emails, tweets, posts and online advertising are often the way cyber criminals compromise your computer or mobile devices.  If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it’s best to delete or, if appropriate, mark as junk email.
  • Be wary of communications that request you to act immediately, offer something that sounds too good be to be true or ask for personal information.
  • If you are notified, become aware or suspect your computer or mobile device is infected, take immediate steps to remove malware.
  • Not all Wi-Fi hotspots at coffee shops, airports, or hotels have strong security protection.  Securing your phone, tablet or laptop is as simple as avoiding sensitive sites that require a login, so try to avoid signing into bank accounts, email, or social media accounts while on a public Wi-Fi hotspot.
  • Regularly update the software on your Internet-connected devices, including PCs, smartphones, and tablets.

For more information on the latest scams and how to protect yourself from identity theft, click on any of the following links:

Identity Theft and Your Social Security Number
Check out the latest Scams
Identity Theft Resources
How to Guard Against Internet Thieves


Identity Theft

What You Can Do if You Fall Victim

Identity theft has developed into one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States. It happens when someone steals your personal information and uses it without your permission.  If you suspect that someone has stolen your identity, acting quickly is the best way to limit the damage.

Here is what you should do:

  • Contact your financial institution immediately and alert them to the situation.  Lake Elmo Bank has an ID Theft packet available to help you walk through steps to take.
  • File a police report immediately with your local agency.
  • Notify the Social Security Administration if this information has been compromised.  The Social Security Fraud hotline number is 1.800.269.0271 
  • File a compliant with the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft division:
    • FTC Website: Go to
    • Toll-free number: 1.877.438.4338
    • Write to the FTC at:  Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20580
  • Contact one of the three major credit bureaus and discuss whether you need to place a fraud alert and/or a credit freeze on your file, which will help prevent thieves from opening a new account in your name.
P.O. Box 740250
Atlanta, GA 30374
P.O. Box 1017
Allen, TX 75013
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA  92634
  • Order your free credit reports. A regular review of your credit file may detect unauthorized accounts or other fraudulent activity. Go to to order one free report per year from Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian.

Click here for a website that will provide you with some additional information.

Protect Yourself

Protect Yourself with a Few Simple Steps

  • Don’t give out financial information.  If you receive a call or email from someone you do not know asking for personal information, like your account number or online banking credentials, do not give out any  information.  Lake Elmo Bank does not contact their customers via telephone, email or text messaging asking for financial information.  The only time we may ask you personal information is if you contact us directly.
  • Go digital. By paying bills online, you reduce the risk that checks and statements containing personal information may be stolen by identity thieves. You should also have your paycheck deposited electronically into your account.
  • Monitor accounts online and frequently. Use Lake Elmo Bank’s and other financial institutions’ websites to check for signs of fraud, and report suspicious or unauthorized activity immediately. Consumers with 24/7 access to account activity are most likely to uncover fraud the fastest.
  • Sign up for e-statements.  Reduce your risk of identity theft and mail fraud by receiving your monthly bank statements through your online banking.
  • Install and update security software. Make sure you have a firewall, antispyware, antivirus software, and browser security software on your home computer.
  • Never give personal information to callers. Don’t respond to phone messages that prompt you to call another telephone number about your account. Similarly, don’t send account information via e-mail messages–they’re not secure.  Don’t respond to unsolicited or strange emails. Use contact information you already have for the financial institutions with which you do business.
  • Shred it. Get rid of sensitive papers and statements you no longer need that contain personal information.
  • When online don’t click on any links.  Avoid clicking on links within a pop-up as they can load a virus onto your computer or mobile device.  Don’t shop on unknown sites.  Research the online merchant first to see if there are any complaints against them.
  • Hang up! It’s shrewd, not rude to hang up on a suspicious telemarketer.
  • Don’t feel pressured and get into a verbal agreement or sign a contract.  Take the time to research a company and review any agreements.
  • Be skeptical of online charitable solicitations and other online offers.  If interested, ask to receive the information in the mail and check to be sure the company is legitimate.
  • Never agree to pay for products or services in advance.
  • Change a few daily habits. Mail bills from a locked mailbox; secure sensitive mobile data stored on a laptop, PDA (personal data assistant) or phone; and don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet unless you need it for a specific purpose on that given day. A stolen wallet that contains a Social Security card–as well as your address and other forms of identification–is like handing over your identity to a thief.