Bank helps protect customers' identity - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Bank helps protect customers' identity

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May 12, 2006

Albany - - If you haven't been a victim of identity theft, someone you know probably has. Identity fraud affects 20% of Americans. Many victims don't know it until after the damage is done.

Carolyn Israel found out the hard way, you can't trust everyone.

"I went in the store to use my card, they dont have the little machine that you put it through, she takes it and puts it in her hand walks it to the machine and makes a copy."

The copy she says made her the target of identity theft after she noticed extra items on her account.

"Strange things like antiques and expensive things from California and I had never used that."

Financial experts say it happens way too often.

 "The sooner you know that your identity has been stolen the sooner you can put some stop measures to prevent your losses," says Mike Marz of Sun Trust Bank.

 So his bank teamed up with Equifax this month to offer special checking accounts for its customers. The Credit Watch program provides access to your credit report and notifies you when there's suspicious activity in your credit file.

There's also some things you can do - like when going to the ATM, have your envelope already prepared and your check card in hand.

 Linda Timmons does her banking by day to avoid going to the ATM at night.

"Some people are really good with numbers they can just watch you punch your number in so I dont do that."

Sun Trust workers say the program can give customers some added security about their finances.

"In many many cases your identity is stolen and you dont know about it until you get your visa card bill, master card bill and by then its too late there's thousands of dollars that have been stolen from your account," Marz says.

As for Carolyn, she's learned her lesson. She had her photo put onto her debit card so there's no question of her identity.

Sun Trust Customers can sign up for the Identity Theft Protection Program by logging onto Sun Trust's Website at www.suntrust.com/creditwatch

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