Binary code including the word identity

Nine Steps to Protect Your Identity

By Scott Erkonen, Chief Information Officer, Great Western Bank

September 12, 2017

By: Scott Erkonen

By now, you may have heard of the recently communicated data breach suffered by Equifax. While the data breach was made public last week, the actual issue appears to have occurred between mid-May and the end of July (2017). Information released by Equifax and authorities indicates that the personal information for over 143 million people was compromised. Data breaches are unfortunately becoming more commonplace.

While data breaches are not 100% preventable (nobody can prevent all fraud or Identity Theft), we at Great Western Bank are often asked what you as a customer can do to reduce the risk of Identity Theft. The following tips are suggested:

  1. Check your Bank and Credit Card balances regularly. Look for transactions or any activity that look abnormal. If you have a question, call the Bank.

  2. Add a password, called an ”Inquiry ID Code”, to your bank account. This is not a password that allows access to online or mobile banking, but a password that can be used to verify your identity when you call or visit one of our branches or call our Customer Care Center. 

  3. Sign up for account alerts through Great Western Bank’s online or mobile banking. This will allow you to see when your balances reach certain levels, or when a large deposit or withdrawal occurs. You control what the thresholds are for these notifications.

  4. Understand you may be asked additional questions to verify your identity when you call our Customer Care Center, or visit us in person. These questions aren’t intended to irritate you, but are part of Great Western Bank’s security and Identity Theft prevention procedures – they are asked to help protect you.

  5. Be aware of suspicious emails or phone calls asking you for personal information, particularly if the caller claims to be associated with the Equifax data breach resolution.

  6. Consider placing a credit freeze on your accounts with the Credit Bureaus (See contact details below). This makes it more difficult for someone to open up accounts in your name.

  7. Consider placing a Fraud Alert on your account with the Credit Bureaus (See contact details below). This will force additional verification processes for anyone attempting to open accounts under your information because it flags you as a potential victim of Identity Theft.

  8. Exercise your right to a free annual Credit Bureau Report. This can be obtained at You are entitled to receive a free report from all three Credit Bureaus once every 12 months.

  9. Consider utilizing credit monitoring or Identity Theft Protection services. There are fee based services available that will assist you in the ongoing monitoring of your credit and personal information.

Here is contact information related to the Credit Bureaus, the Federal Trade Commission, and Great Western Bank.

Equifax Experian TransUnion    
888-766-0008 888-397-3742 800-680-7289
Federal Trade Commission Consumer Response Center    
Great Western Bank    
800-952-2043 (Monday – Friday 7:30 AM – 6:00 PM CT) (do not send sensitive information via normal email)
Great Western Bank Secure Email - this may be found under the “Contact Us” page on our website,  Information provided inside the Secure Email system is protected by encryption and additional security measures.

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