Identity Theft

At Bank of the Southwest, we take great care to protect your personal information. Strict policies and procedures are in place to ensure your account information is kept confidential. Only authorized signers (an authorized signer is anyone whose name is on the signature card) can access account information.

We will never request your Internet Banking Password. We strongly suggest that you do not share this information with anyone under any circumstances. Be wary of emails or individuals who ask for such information, as sharing your Username and Password will provide the recipient with full access to your account. 

IMPORTANT: If you have replied to such an email, please immediately call Bank of the Southwest at 800-465-1122 and forward the email to us at [email protected] 

What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft occurs when someone acquires key pieces of another person's identity with the intent to commit fraud. Information such as name, date of birth, social security number, mother's maiden name, etc., can help a criminal impersonate another individual. Once this person has access to this information, they can commit different kinds of fraud, including accessing bank accounts, obtaining loans, making purchases, renting apartments, etc. 

How Does It Happen?

Identity theft can happen to anyone, regardless of whether or not you use the Internet. In fact, experts say your mailbox and garbage are the easiest ways criminals can access your personal information. 

Who Does It Affect?

Identity theft can happen to anyone in hundreds of different ways. It's the fastest growing crime facing every citizen. Identity theft is a felony crime; however, police cannot help with your credit record or undo the damage that has been done. Delayed discovery of identity theft and the various ways criminals can now gain access to your personal information, can complicate a criminal investigation. Proper precautions with your information are the best protection. 

How Bank of the Southwest Protects You

Your protection is the highest priority for us. Our state-of-the-art tools and monitoring system ensure your identity is safe.

  • Verification:  when you change an address, for example, we manually check the legitimacy before making any changes.
  • Account monitoring:  irregular account activity (check orders, address changes, heavy withdrawals) may prompt a phone call for confirmation.
  • Communication:  we may contact you regarding suspicious activity associated with your account(s).
  • Bill Pay:  a fast, easy and totally secure way to receive, pay and manage bills Online from the convenience of your PC.

How You Can Avoid Being Victimized

Minimize your risk by completing the following steps:

  • Change all passwords regularly, using a mix of numbers and characters. Memorize your passwords and write them down only in a secure place.
  • Never share your Bank of the Southwest Password with anyone. Be wary of emails or individuals who ask for such information. We will never ask for your Password via email or telephone. Sharing your Password will provide the recipient with full access to your account if they have your Username.
  • Guard your PIN at ATMs. Never write the number down anywhere in your purse or wallet.
  • Never provide personal information over the phone unless you initiated contact or know with whom you are speaking to. Ask how your personal information will be used and protected and whether the information you're asked to provide is voluntary or mandatory to complete the transaction.
  • Do not put outgoing mail in your home mailbox to be picked up. Take it to a postal box.
  • Get a locked mail box or post office box.
  • Don't carry extra credit cards or your social security card in your wallet.
  • Don't use your credit card number on the Internet unless the site has a secured, encrypted system (look for "HTTPS" in the URL or the lock icon in the corner of your screen).
  • Make a list of your credit card and bank account numbers, along with customer service numbers, and keep it in a safe place.
  • Shred all personal documents and unwanted mail. Criminals often work in groups going through garbage.
  • Have your checks delivered to your bank or post office box, not your home address.
  • Monitor your bank and credit card statements every month. Be aware of billing cycles; if you miss receiving a bill, it can be an indication that your credit card company has received a change of address from someone other than you.
  • Order a credit report from all three agencies at least once per year and review them carefully. Report any discrepancies in writing to each credit agency and explain the situation.
  • To reduce unwanted mail, email and/or telephone solicitations, contact the Direct Marketing Association. 

What To Do If You Suspect Identity Theft

  • Immediately contact us toll-free at 800-465-1122.
  • Contact the Federal Trade Commission's Identity Theft Hotline: 877-ID-THEFT (877-438-4338).
  • Call the three main credit bureaus to get copies of your credit report (see the numbers below). With the bureau's help, add fraud flags and statements to your report saying that all potential creditors should contact you to verify credit applications.
  • Notify local law enforcement to file a report.
  • Report the theft of mail to your local postal inspector. To stop mail during a vacation, call 800-275-8777.
  • After contacting your phone company about unauthorized long distance charges, contact the Consumer & Government Affairs Bureau or call 888-225-5322 if you are still having difficulty removing fraudulent charges from your account.

If you have been victimized, it is imperative that you do the following:

  • Law Enforcement:  contact law enforcement to file a police report. Record the police department name and case number.
  • Credit Agencies:  you are entitled to a free credit report if you are the victim of identity theft, have been denied credit, receive welfare or are unemployed. Contact one of the following credit reporting agencies to report the fraud and ask about putting a fraud alert on your record:
  • Equifax:  to order a report, call 800-685-1111 or write P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241. To report fraud, call 800-525-6285 and write P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241.
  • Experian:  to order a report or to report fraud, call 888-397-3742 or write P.O. Box 949, Allen, TX 75013-0949.
  • Trans Union:  to order your report, call 800-916-8800 or write P.O. Box 1000, Chester, PA 19022. To report fraud, call 800-680-7289 and write Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92384.