Identity Theft Awareness Week is February 1-5, and in this first post, we at The Village Bank want to share with our customers what exactly identity theft is and how it works. Later in the week, we will offer tips and information on how to protect yourself.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, identity theft cases surged in 2020. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), there were double the number of reported identity theft cases (1.4 million) in 2020 than in 2019, three times the number of tax identity theft cases (89,390), and 30 times the number of government benefits fraud reports (394,280).

Identity theft is a broad term which applies to any use of stolen personal information, such as a social security number, to create new accounts, make purchases or commit other fraud. Identity theft can occur as the result of data breaches, unsecure browsing of the internet, malware activity, phishing, email and phone spam attacks, mail theft and card skimming. In many cases, by the time victims realize identity theft has happened, the damage already has been done.

One general tip to follow: If anyone makes a request for personal information that you were not expecting, do not give them any information. It is a scam.

As we go through Identity Theft Awareness Week, we will review ways you can keep yourself safe from identity theft and provide resources you can use as identity theft adapts to the changing financial landscape. As always, resources are freely available at the FTC website and The Village Bank Security Center.

If you feel you have fallen victim to identity theft, please contact The Village Bank immediately at (617) 969-4300 and report the identity theft by clicking this link. At The Village Bank, we are committed to protecting your privacy. We pride ourselves on maintaining confidential information with the utmost respect and integrity.

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