Types of Phishing:
Phishing Attempt Examples
E-mail from Hancock Bank
Advanced e-Fraud Protection
You may have heard about a form of identity theft known as "phishing." In a phishing scam (see examples of past phishing attempts aimed at Hancock Bank customers), identity thieves send cleverly disguised e-mails, supposedly from legitimate and reputable companies, to mass e-mail address lists of potentially millions of people. The bogus e-mails usually tell recipients that their accounts are in danger of being frozen or suspended.
The three companies have set up a central Web site, toll-free phone number and mailing address through which you can order your annual free report. Visit annualcreditreport.com, call (877) 322-8228 or write to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. You must mail an Annual Credit Report Request form to this address, which you can obtain at ftc.gov/credit. Do not contact the companies individually—they are only providing free reports through one of these methods of contact.
You can order all three reports at the same time or order them separately. The best strategy is to order one report every four months—that way, you can check your credit three times a year, instead of just once a year. Another strategy is to sign up for credit watch services, which for an annual fee will alert you to any activity in your credit file.
Minimize the identification information and the number of credit and ATM cards you carry with you in your wallet or purse. Only carry what you'll actually need.
Make a photocopy of the entire contents of what you do carry in your wallet and keep it in a safe place. This way, you will know exactly what was in your wallet if it is ever lost or stolen. Copy both sides of your driver's license and credit cards so that you have all the information (primarily account numbers and toll-free phone numbers) you need to cancel cards and order replacements. Never give out your Social Security number without first asking what happens if you don't give it. Usually, it's not really required.
Don't use your mother's real maiden name or your real city of birth as identifiers. Make up fake names instead.
Purchase a personal document shredder to shred discarded documents containing any personal information—old bank, credit card or brokerage statements, tax forms, insurance/medical claims, unused "courtesy" or "convenience" checks, etc. For maximum security, choose a crosscut shredder—it's more expensive, but shreds documents more thoroughly.
Abagnale's Top 10 Tips
When you order personal checks from Hancock Bank, have only your first initial and last name printed on the checks. If your checkbook is stolen, the thief will not know how to sign your full name.
Never have your Social Security number pre-printed on your personal checks. Also, have your work (instead of home) phone number and address printed on your checks, or preferably, a post office box number if you have one.
If you pay your credit card bill by check, write only the last four digits of your account number in the subject line of the check, rather than the entire number. The credit card company knows the other numbers, and you avoid revealing the entire number to anyone who handles your check.
If you live in Louisiana, you can "freeze" access to your credit file, which effectively denies anyone else trying to apply for credit in your name from doing so. Louisiana is one of only 10 states that allow freezing of credit files, for which each credit bureau charges $10, plus another $10 to "thaw" your file if you're applying for credit. Congress is considering a law to allow credit freezes nationwide.
Keep your telephone number unlisted. Your phone number is one of the key pieces of information companies may use to verify your identity.
Ask to receive electronic versions of bills and account statements, instead of paper.