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Identity Theft Protection

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SCAMS IN YOUR AREA

COVID-19 SCAMS

Fraudsters will latch on to any opportunity to take advantage of businesses and consumers. Right now, criminals are using the COVID-19 pandemic to scam people out of their hard-earned money. Watch below to learn how to recognize a potential scam and avoid becoming a victim.

The Better Business Bureau has also published information to help Small Businesses recognize scams that are posing as the Small Business Administration (SBA)

Tips for Spotting a Small Business Loan Scam:

  • Look for a website that ends in .gov or .ca: Legitimate government entities will have websites and emails that end with .gov such as SBA.gov.
  • Do a quick internet search for similar offers: Many government agencies helping small businesses are offering loans and other programs. Be sure to confirm that the offer is real before sharing personal or business information. Find the agency website through an online search (never click on a link in an email) and be sure the  program is on their website.
  • Government agencies do not typically text or communicate through social media avenues such as Facebook. Be wary of unsolicited messages.
  • There is no such thing as a “free” government grant. If you have to pay money to claim a “free” government grant, it is not really free.  A real government agency will not ask you to pay an  advanced processing fee.
  • Business typically don’t receive government grants. In general, the federal government only offers grants to nonprofits, educational institutions and state and local governments. 

For more information, check out the SBA’s website.


AMEREN SCAM

In this scam, a customer receives an unsolicited phone call from an individual who falsely claims to be an Ameren representative. The scammer warns that Ameren will disconnect the customer’s electric service if the customer fails to make a payment – usually within a short timeframe. Scammers have even duplicated the Ameren Interactive Voice Response system, so when customers call back phone numbers provided by the scammer, it sounds like a legitimate Ameren phone number. Some of these criminals also use caller ID spoofing in order to replicate Ameren’s customer service number. 

Red flags for scam activity

  • The thief becomes angry and tells the customer his or her account is past due and service will be disconnected if a large payment isn’t made – usually within less than an hour.
  • The thief instructs the customer to use their debit/credit card or to purchase a pre-paid debit or credit card, widely available at retail stores, then call him or her back to supposedly make a payment to Ameren.
  • The scammer asks the customer for the pre-paid card’s receipt number and PIN number, which grants instant access to the card’s funds.

How to protect yourself

  • Customers can make payments online, by phone, electronic check, mail or at pay in person locations.
  • Customers with delinquent accounts receive an advance disconnection notification by mail with the regular monthly billing and by phone several days in advance – never a single notification hours before disconnection.
  • If you suspect someone is impersonating an Ameren employee, end the conversation and immediately call Ameren Missouri at 1.800.552.7583. Customers can also follow Ameren on social media to receive the latest updates on scams.

Protect Yourself from Identity Fraud

Put simply, identity theft is a major crime. It cripples your finances, destroys your credit history and can take mountains of patience, time and money to resolve. The good news is there are a lot of things you can do to decrease the likelihood of becoming a victim of identity theft.  

Signs Your Identity has Been Stolen

If you notice any of these signs, your identity may have been stolen, and should be reported immediately:

  1. Mistakes on your bank, credit card or other account statements
  2. Late bills or statements that generally arrive on the same time each month
  3. You receive bills or collection notices for products and services you never bought
  4. Calls from debt collectors on debts that don’t belong to you
  5. Other signs include a notice from the IRS that someone used your Social Security number, businesses turn down your checks or you are turned down for a job or loan unexpectedly.

Identity Theft Protection Tips

For a quick and easy overview of ways to prevent Identity Theft, click here.

  • Shred any mail you receive that has personal information or account numbers on it.
  • Secure all account documents in a locked safe or in a safe deposit box.
  • Have your mail stopped while you are out of town to prevent it from being stolen.
  • Do not carry your social security card or passport with you on a regular basis.
  • If you receive a phone call or email from someone asking for your personal information, do not give it out.
  • Do not open emails that seem suspicious, and never click on a link in an email unless you are certain it is safe.
  • Do you utilize online banking and bill pay options? Click here for tips on how to make online transactions safe and more secure.
  • Are you a business owner? Click here for tips on how to make online banking for your business safe and more secure.
  • Unsure if your situation could be a scam? Click here for tips on how to identify a potential identity theft scam.

My Identity has Been Stolen. Now What?

Follow these steps if you believe you are a victim of identity theft:

  1. Flag your credit reports- get in touch with one of the three national credit reporting bureaus and ask them to put a fraud alert on your credit report. They have to call the other two bureaus according to law. This initial fraud alert is good for 90 days.
    a. Equifax 1-800-525-6285
    b. Experian 1-888-397-3742
    c. TransUnion 1-800-680-7289
  2. Order your credit reports- each of the three credit reporting bureaus handles credit reports differently. Ordering a copy from each allows you to compare them to find mistakes. If you find any signs of fraud, contact the company.
  3. File an Identity Theft Report- this will help get the fraudulent information taken off your credit report, prevent collections on fraudulent debts and identity accounts the identity thief opened in your name. File your complaint with the FTC at www.ftc.gov/complaint or call 1-877-438-4338 (TTY 1-866-653-4261). b. Once your complaint is complete, take this document, called an FTC affidavit, to your local police or to the police in the area where the theft occurred and file a police report. Be sure to get a copy of the police report.