Identity Theft

Many times, the reason for online threats like phishing, spyware, and hackers is identity theft. Identity theft occurs when someone uses your name, Social Security number, credit card number or other personal information without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes. Criminals can use your good name to obtain loans, healthcare, rentals, or credit cards. Often times, this can go undetected for many months, and cleanup can be exceeding difficult.

To learn more about identity theft, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s websites:


Not only can digital information say a lot about you, but paper can too. Think about all those paper documents that you receive and could be used to compromise your personal information. Mailers, printed account statements, even handwritten notes all may contain valuable information about you. Scammers could access this information by simply rummaging through your trash.

Consider the following steps to protect your "paper trail":

  • Invest in a shredder, and use it for unwanted documents. Never throw personal documents in the trash or recycling without making them unreadable.
  • Lock up important documents at home; thefts increasingly target your personal documents, too.
  • Enroll in online "paperless" statements. Associated Bank has a solution for you!
  • Enroll in online bill pay; it reduces the amount of personal documents sent through the mail.
  • Keep sensitive documents out of your car. A car theft can make you lose more than your car.
  • Don’t keep social security cards or other important documents in your wallet.

Personal Information

In order to protect your personal information, you have to know what it is. Here are some types of valuable information you should protect:
  • Social Security Number
  • Address, phone number, and name (together)
  • Account numbers
  • Passwords
  • User names used to access financial accounts
  • Email addresses
  • Challenge questions (personal information like mother’s maiden name)
  • Account details and balances
  • Business account details, tax information, or Employer ID numbers

Many scams target your personal information. Many times they have one thing in common - somebody asks you for the information without you initiating the contact. If this happens, question the legitimacy of the request.

Don't reply to an email, text, or pop-up message that asks for personal or financial information, and don't click on links in the message.

If you want to go to a bank or business' website, type the web address into your browser yourself. Use web bookmarks so you don’t make a typo.

Don't respond if you get a message – by email, text, pop-up or phone – that asks you to call a phone number to update your account or give your personal information to access a refund. If in doubt, call the number on the back of your credit or debit card, or on your financial statements.

If you have released any information improperly or believe you may have compromised account information, please immediately report it to Customer Care ( or call 800-682-4989. You may also use the reporting fraud link on this site.

To learn more about strategies to protect your personal information, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website Onguardonline.

The FBI considers identity theft one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States and estimates 500,000 to 700,000 Americans become identity theft victims each year.

Identity theft is a federal crime. It occurs when one person's identification (which can include name, social security number or any account number) is used or transferred by another person for unlawful activities.

The Federal Reserve Board recently made available a new booklet designed to help consumers protect themselves against identity theft. The booklet describes the dangers posed by identity thieves, what people can do to protect themselves and what you should do if you're a victim.

Click here for a printable version of the booklet, "Identity Theft".

(Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader .)

Tips to Avoid Identity Theft

Protect Your Identity. Prevention is the first step in minimizing your risk. Below are some guidelines for you to consider:

  • Unless you initiated the call, do not share personal information, such as checking account number, credit card numbers or your social security number, with anyone over the phone.
  • Report lost or stolen checks and credit cards to the appropriate financial institution as soon as possible.
  • Mail your bills in a secure, official Postal Service collection box. Promptly pick up your mail after delivery. If you will be out of town, have a friend retrieve your mail or have the Postal Service hold your mail.
  • Once a year, obtain a copy of your credit report to ensure all information is accurate.

Associated Bank offers quick, simple and completely secure ways to fight identity theft. Learn more about Fraud Alert and My Credit Report.

  • Tear up or shred documents with sensitive information before disposing of them. This includes any pre-approved credit card offers, credit card receipts, insurance forms, bank statements, etc.
  • Protect your account information. Do not write your personal identification number (PIN) on your ATM or debit card. Don't write your social security number or credit card account number on a check. Cover your hand when you are entering your PIN number at an ATM.
  • If your credit card or other bills are more than two weeks late, you should do three things:
    • Contact the Postal Service to see if someone has forwarded your mail to another address.
    • Contact your bank to ask if the statement or card has been mailed.
    • Contact the businesses that send you bills and ask if they have been mailed.
  • Do not carry your Social Security card, passport or birth certificate unless you need it that day. Take all but one or two credit cards out of your wallet. Keep a list at home of your account information and customer service telephone numbers. That way, if your wallet is lost or stolen, you'll only have to notify a few of your creditors and the information will be handy.

Identity Theft Resources

There are several government and consumer groups available if you would like to learn more about identity theft. Listed below is the contact information for the most common organizations.

Credit Agencies

P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374

Report Fraud: (800) 525-6285
Order a Credit Report: (800) 685-1111

P.O. Box 2002
Allen, TX 75013

Report Fraud: (888) EXPERIAN (397-3742)
Order a Credit Report: (888) EXPERIAN (397-3742)

P.O. Box 1000
Chester, PA 19022

Report Fraud: (800) 680-7289
Order a Credit Report: (800) 916-8800

Federal Government Resources

Identity Theft Clearinghouse
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580

Report Fraud: (877) IDTHEFT (438-4338)

P.O. Box 17768
Baltimore, MD 21235

Social Security Fraud Hot Line: (800) 269-0271

475 L'Enfant Plaza SW
Washington, DC 20260

Social Security Fraud Hot Line: (800) 372-8347

Nonprofit Resources

P.O. Box 26833
San Diego, CA 92196
(858) 693-7935

3100 - 5th Ave., Suite B
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 298-3396

Mail Preference Service
P.O. Box 643
Carmel, NY 10512

Mobile - download apps