Preventing Identity Theft

Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information (such as your name, credit card number, driver’s license number, or other personal identifying information) to commit fraud or other crimes.

Simple ways to protect yourself:

  • Never email any personal information unless it is via secure email.
  • Don’t give out your Social Security or account numbers unless you initiate the call.
  • Review all your monthly financial statements.
  • Shred trash with sensitive information including convenience checks and credit card offers you get in the mail.
  • Use direct deposit to have recurring checks you receive deposited directly to your bank account.
  • Don’t leave printed receipts behind at ATMs or gas pumps.
  • Don’t put credit card or other personal information on a website that isn’t secure.

Phishing is an email scam that attempts to trick consumers into revealing personal information through fake web sites or in a reply email. Usually the emails and websites use familiar logos to deceive consumers into thinking the sender or website owner is a company they know or a government agency.

How does it work?

In the typical phishing scam, you receive an email supposedly from a company or financial institution you may do business with. The email describes a reason you must “verify” or “resubmit” confidential personal information – such as bank account, credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, passwords and personal identification numbers – using a return email, a form on a linked website or a pop-up message with the name and the logo of the company. It may state that your bank account information has then been lost or stolen; that limits may be imposed on your account unless you provide additional details. If you comply, the thieves hiding behind the seemingly legitimate website or email can use the information to make unauthorized withdrawals from your bank account, pay for online purchases using your credit card, or even sell your personal information to other thieves.

Spyware is a computer software program that gathers information about a computer user, and in most cases, without the user’s knowledge or informed consent. Spyware applications are inadvertently installed when visiting a website or clicking a hyperlink.

The software can gather and transmit personal information (email addresses, passwords, credit card numbers, PINs) to another organization or person and use it illegally.

It can also cause problems with computer resources causing PCs to run slowly or erratically.

How do I protect my PC from spyware?
To prevent the spyware installation without your consent, remember not to download any freeware onto the computer.

You may already be using anti-virus software, but to be effective, the software should be updated regularly with the latest virus definition files.

Change your online banking password regularly to protect your personal data.

Always run anti-virus and anti-spyware software before you download other programs or open e-mails.

If you think that you have installed such software in your PC, you may wish to seek professional IT advice on steps to be taken to uninstall the software from your PC.

A great source of information about how to protect your confidential personal information is the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Online Security site (

If you suspect or have confirmed that your personal information has been lost or stolen, the Federal Trade Commission recommends four steps to get you on the road to recovery.

Step 1: Contact Your Financial Institution

  1. Report lost or stolen financial information to the appropriate institution. Consult with them to determine if the account needs to be closed or have security passwords incorporated to prevent unauthorized access and/or maintenance to your account.
  2. If you do not recognize a financial transaction, or suspect fraud activity, immediately call Farmers State Bank at 785.457.3316 (Westmoreland), 785.539.9002 (Manhattan), 785.889.4211 (Onaga) or the appropriate financial institution.

Step 2: Protect Your Finances & Identity

  1. Contact the fraud victim assistance departments of each major credit reporting bureau and obtain a copy of your credit report, which is free to ID theft victims – analyze the report and identify accounts you have not established.
  2. Request that your file be flagged with a “fraud alert tag” and a “victim’s statement,” which will limit the thief’s ability to open new credit accounts.
  3. If you currently have ID Theft insurance you will be required to file a police report in order to place a fraud alert on your profile which will remain in place for seven years.
  4. If the stolen information includes your driver’s license or other government-issued identification, contact the agencies that issued the documents and follow their procedures to cancel a document and get a replacement. Ask the agency to “flag” your file to keep anyone else from getting a license or another identification document in your name.
  5. Monitor your financial statements on a monthly basis and report unauthorized activity to the appropriate financial institution immediately.
  6. Contact one of the major credit reporting companies below. Once done, the information will be shared with the remaining organizations.
Equifax 800.525.6285
Experian 888.397.3742
TransUnion 800.680.7289

Step 3: File a Police Report
You may to need a file a police report in the town or jurisdiction where the theft occurred to dispute unauthorized charges and for any required claims.

Step 4: File a Report with the FTC
Fill out an online ID Theft complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at or call the Federal Trade Commission’s ID Theft Clearinghouse toll-free at 1.877.ID.THEFT.

  • By sharing your theft complaint with the FTC, you will provide important information on ID theft cases that can be used by law enforcement officers to find patterns, track down, and catch criminals.