New Castle County police agencies have received multiple reports from residents that they have received a letter from American Express indicating that a bank account had been opened in their name.
The letter goes on to explain that American Express closed the account within a day or two. No purchases were made and no victim lost any money.
An American Express spokesman said the company’s systems were not hacked, contrary to a previous headline on this website.
He offered the following statement:
American Express has sophisticated monitoring systems in place to help detect and prevent fraudulent activity, so if we suspect an account was opened without a consumer’s authorization, we will take immediate protective measures. We also inform the consumer of our actions via a written letter. I can tell you that our security controls acted quickly to ensure no consumers have faced any financial losses in connection with these accounts.
To be clear, this was not a breach of American Express’ systems, but we do not know how the fraudster obtained consumers’ personal information. Ensuring the security of personal information is our toppriority, and we investigate these incidents in close partnership with law enforcement.
As a general piece of advice, I would note to your readers the importance of safeguarding their personal, financial or account information from fraudsters by being extremely cautious about sharing any sensitive information with anyone who reaches out via phone, email or text asking them to provide it. If they are ever unsure, they should call their financial institution directly.
Police stated that the letters from American Express are legitimate and they are meant to inform the recipient that their personal information may have been compromised through well publicized data breaches. It is unknown exactly when, or how, the personal information was obtained.
Members of the public who believe that their personal information may have been compromised are asked to report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at their website: https://www.identitytheft.gov/Assistant. The website provides additional instructions as to steps that can be taken in response to a possible identity theft.
In addition, victims of identity theft can follow this advice from the FTC:
- If a company responsible for exposing your information offers you free credit monitoring, take advantage of it.
- Get your free credit reports from:
Check for any accounts or charges you don’t recognize.
- Consider placing a free credit freeze. A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name.
- Try to file your taxes early — before a scammer can. Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job. Respond right away to letters from the IRS.
- Don’t believe anyone who calls and says you’ll be arrested unless you pay for taxes or debt — even if they have part or all of your Social Security number, or they say they’re from the IRS.
- Continue to check your credit reports at annualcreditreport.com. You can order a free report from each of the three credit reporting companies once a year.
More information is available from the Federal Trade Commission at their website: www.identitytheft.gov