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What Is Identity Theft?

Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information to commit fraud.

Identity theft can happen to anyone. Certainly, being a victim could cost you substantial time, money, and resources to clear your name. There are various ways fraudsters steal identities. For example, they can steal your mail, call you pretending to be from your financial institution, or falsify change of address documents.

Identity theft and identity fraud are terms used to refer to all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception. ith enough identifying information about an individual, a criminal can take over that individual’s identity to conduct a wide range of crimes.

Identity Theft vs. Identity Fraud

Simply, identity theft is the act of stealing personal information and identity fraud is the use of this information. Sometimes the terms are used interchangeably, but identity theft and identity fraud are different. Identity theft is when a victim’s Personal Identifying Information (PII) is stolen. Information can include your name, address, Social Security number, medical insurance, or credit cards. Identity fraud occurs when thieves use that information for illicit gain.

This crime affects both the individuals whose identity has been stolen and the business where the stolen identity has been used to make fraudulent transactions. Examples can include, creating fake IDs or Passports, credit cards, bank accounts, loan applications… essentially, your complete identity. Once it has occurred, identity fraud can have a lasting impact on your credit score. The accounts and charges that a fraudster creates will appear on your credit report and it will be your responsibility until disputed. Checking your credit report regularly is a good way to protect yourself from identity fraud. Search for any accounts or debts that you do not recognize and contact the business or credit bureau immediately to inform them that your identity may have been compromised. The more vigilant you are, the more likely you will be able to protect yourself from identity fraud.

Identity Theft & Phishing

Another form of identity theft commonly used is phishing. Generally, phishing is a scam where someone pretends to be a financial institution and asks for your personal information. Always contact the financial institution directly if you are unsure. Additionally, Pearl Hawaii will never ask for your account number, social security number, or personal details through email, phone call, or text message. If you need to contact us, call 808.737.4328 (73-PHFCU), send us a secured message through PHFCUOnline, or email us at

Examples Of Identity Theft

  • Obtaining other goods or privileges which the criminal might be denied if he were to use his real name.
  • False applications for loans and credit cards.
  • Fraudulent withdrawals from bank accounts.
  • Someone poses as another person to obtain free medical care.
  • Fraudulent use of telephone calling cards or online accounts.
  • Criminal combine real (usually stolen) and fake information to create a new identity, which is used to open fraudulent accounts and make fraudulent purchases.
  • Fraudsters can also use your number to receive medical, disability, and other benefits.
  • In child identity theft, the fraudster may use the child’s name to obtain loans, create a Social Security Number, obtain a residence, find employment, or avoid an arrest.
  • Some people even steal the personal information of deceased individuals.

Can You Do Anything To Prevent Identity Theft?

  • Do not reply to an e-mail or click on a link from within an e-mail asking you to update your account information.
  • You should call your creditors using commonly used telephone numbers found on your statement or website.
  • Unless you initiate the call, you should never provide account or personal information to someone claiming to be an employee of Pearl Hawaii Federal Credit Union or any other financial institution.
  • Use different passwords for online banking, e-mail, PIN numbers, and other online accounts.
  • Do not use easily guessed passwords. For example, do not use your name, your pet’s name, or your spouse’s birthday.
  • Regularly update antivirus software and operating system updates to reduce computer threats.
  • Drop mail off at the U.S. Postal Service rather than leaving your mail in your mailbox overnight or over the weekend.
  • Tear up or shred mail and documents with personal information before throwing them away. Historically, fraudsters do steal information from household garbage (called dumpster diving).
  • Promptly review monthly statements and bills for suspicious transactions and large or unexplained purchases.
  • Review your credit report annually. Get your credit report from Dispute any information that is wrong and take care of any accounts currently behind. For example, if you have unpaid collection accounts, negotiate settlements so you can get them paid off.
  • Didn’t receive your monthly statement or bill for the month? Immediately call the financial institution or company to verify your mailing address with them.
  • Switch to eStatements.


What Is Pearl Hawaii Doing To Prevent Identity Theft?

  • Pearl Hawaii will never give account information to a requesting person without proper identification.
  • We will electronically store picture identification and signatures. Visit any Pearl Hawaii Federal Credit Union branch for more information.
  • Pearl Hawaii Federal Credit Union does not save passwords for PHFCUOnline or Member Telephone Service (MTS). We will reset passwords only after you have sufficiently answered a series of questions to verify your identity.
  • We will never request personal and/or account information. If you receive an e-mail or phone call from us requesting account information, please forward the e-mail to or call us at 808.73.PHFCU (737-4328) to report it immediately.

If You Become A Victim Of Identity Theft

You can place a fraud alert on your credit report with any of the credit bureaus. For instance, when you or someone else opens a credit account (credit card, loan, etc.), you are contacted for verification. When you cannot be reached by phone, the credit account will not be opened.

In most situations, an initial fraud alert is placed on a credit report record when fraud is suspected. Initially, the fraud alert should detect and alert the consumer of new credit activity for a three to six-month period. Henceforth, the initial fraud alert can be reinitialized or a seven-year extended fraud alert can be placed.

Once you contact one of the three major credit bureaus listed below, the request is shared and updated among each of the three credit bureaus. When the alert is established, your name is removed from all pre-approved credit and insurance offers for two years and a credit report will be mailed to you within two weeks.

Additionally, let your financial institutions know about the fraud and change all account numbers and ATM/Debit cards.

For additional tips on how to prevent identity theft or what to do if you’re a victim




Building trust, nurturing dreams, inspiring hope. From home or car loans to Hawaii’s most innovative banking services, Pearl Hawaii is committed to you. Bank at any of our Oahu locations in Waipahu, Ewa Beach, Waianae, Honolulu, Pearl Harbor, or near the Airport. Additionally, you can bank using PHFCUOnline just like one of our branches. To contact us, call us at 808.737.4328, toll-free at 800.987.5583, or email us at