Security hacks are the tip of the iceberg

Security hacks are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to identity theft. Will you be next?        

Last year, about 700,000 Nebraskans and nearly 1.1 million Iowans reportedly were victims of identity theft. Will you be next?

Security hacks “are the tip of the iceberg,” when it comes to what thieves can do, says Dale Kovar, chief financial officer for First Nebraska Credit Union in Omaha.

Protecting credit union members from breeches is a priority, he says, whether it’s credit card fraud, tax fraud, employment fraud, government benefits fraud or medical fraud.

One example is free identity theft protection, including credit monitoring, for anyone who opens a checking account with the locally-owned, state-chartered credit union.

First Nebraska also provides members with advocates to help clear up any problems or discrepancies that result from a theft, such as negative hits to a person’s credit report or a loan taken in his or her name, regardless of where the fraudulent account occurred.

“Such problems can go on for years,” says Kovar. “That’s why we are fighting for our members … This program guarantees that an advocate will stay with you until you determine your good name has been restored.”

At least 17.6 million people were victims of identity theft in 2014, the last year such data was recorded, according to the FBI’s Bureau of Justice Statistics. Federal authorities say they suspect many more people were affected, since such crimes often go unknown or unreported.

The unauthorized misuse or attempted misuse of a debit or credit card is the most common type of identity theft. Use of a person’s personal information to obtain a new account, loan or government benefits is another.

Last year, Atlanta-based credit reporting company Equifax Inc. announced that hackers had obtained the personal information of about 143 million people in the United States. The stolen information included names, addresses, Social Security numbers, birth dates, driver’s license numbers and credit card numbers. About 700,000 victims were Nebraskans and nearly 1.1 million were Iowans, according to the attorney general’s office in each state. And those totals included some First Nebraska Credit Union members, according to Kovar.

“Awareness is the first step in preventing identity theft,” he says. “We alert you anytime an inquiry hits your credit report, such as someone applying for a car loan at a dealership in Georgia. Such threats can be shut down before they mushroom.”

First Nebraska Credit Union membership is open to people who live, work, worship or attend school in Cass, Dodge, Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy, Saunders and Washington Counties in Nebraska and Pottawattamie County in Iowa, as well as educators, healthcare workers and others who qualify.

The credit union is state-chartered, rather than federally-chartered, which means it is regulated locally. First Nebraska Credit Union has five locations in Omaha and Lincoln. Two new branches are being built as well: one in southeast Lincoln near the Yankee Hill Country Club and another in Elkhorn at 205th Street and West Maple Road, near Indian Creek Golf Course.

For more information, visit Identity Theft Solutions or call 402-492-9100 or 800-882-0244.