Identity Theft & Scams
In this day and age of technology, scams are becoming more rampant than ever. Have you ever heard the old saying “if something is too good to be true, it probably is”? This statement is especially true as criminals use their tactics to lure victims online. With proper discretion and education, you can ensure that criminals do not take advantage of you.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft occurs when someone uses the personal information of another individual to obtain credit or run up bills in that name instead of their own. Criminals will do anything to get your personal information so that they can illegally use your identity to get credit cards and even use medical services and leave you with the bill. That is why it is very important to safeguard your personal information, especially your social security number. Checking your credit report annually will alert you to any identity theft. If you feel that you are being targeted by a scammer, please stop in or give us a call for further assistance.
What are some common scams?
One of the most common scams that we see happens when a member receives a fake check in the mail, often times with the instruction to cash the check and to send back a portion of the funds via Western Union. When the fake check comes back as fraudulent, the member is now out that money as they owe it to the credit union. There are many variations to this scam, ranging from fake lotteries to pleas from Nigerian princes needing help. These checks can range from being blatantly fake to highly detailed and difficult to detect. For this reason, your teller may ask you questions about how you received your check, and if appropriate, turn it away or place an extended hold on the funds. This is nothing personal; we are merely protecting you from having to pay us back a large sum of money.
More and more scams are occurring with fake emails and phone calls from criminals pretending to be a financial institution. These criminals will ask to confirm personal information, including account numbers and debit card numbers, and then proceed to use this information to scam the victim. Always be extra cautious when dealing with such phone calls or emails. Be alert: If something doesn’t make sense to you, it may be best to hang up the call without giving out information. If someone from a company/institution is calling or emailing you for personal or account information, it is a red flag. Usually the only time you are asked to verify information is if you call a company yourself.
What are some common cyber scams?
Cyber criminals are always coming up with new scams to trick you into giving out your information. Sometimes a criminal might call you posing as an employee of one of your creditors and ask you to reveal your information. Many criminals online send out imposter emails to groups of people in the hopes of getting some of those people to visit a harmful website link or send them their personal information. This is known as “phishing.” You can prevent phishing by never giving out your personal information or following links from such emails.
Traditional scams can also happen online. Often times, a scammer will send a person a fake check or money order and ask the seller to cash that check and send it back to them, much like the earlier scam mentioned above. Always be cautious when selling anything on the internet.
At times, New Dimensions FCU may call you for legitimate purposes. We will never ask you for your debit card or account numbers. If you do not feel comfortable with the phone call, you can call us back with our phone number to be certain you are speaking with your credit union.
What resources are available to consumers?
NCUA recently published the following information regarding Identity Theft and the resources available to consumers:
“With the broad reach of the internet, we live in a world where personal information about everyone’s identity and finances is potentially vulnerable to thieves and crooks,” NCUA Board Chairman Debbie Matz said. “As part of NCUA’s overall commitment to consumer education and financial literacy, we want to help credit union members understand what they can do to prevent theft or where to get help when cyber fraudsters strike.”
More than 16 million Americans were victims of identity theft in 2012, the most recent year for which data are available, and the losses topped $24 billion.
Tax time is open season for identity thieves, and the Internal Revenue Service itself can be a target. IRS estimated that it paid more than $5 billion in fraudulent tax refunds in 2013 while preventing another $24 billion in losses when it was able to detect fraud.
In conjunction with the Federal Trade Commission’s Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week, NCUA has added a new page to its consumer site, MyCreditUnion.gov, with useful information about preventing or reporting identity theft that may be perpetrated using fake contacts that appear to be IRS requests for taxpayer information. Credit unions are encouraged to share this information with their members during the week, which runs Jan. 26 to 30.
MyCreditUnion.gov has several resources to help credit union members understand and prevent identity theft as well as frauds and scams generally. The agency also has videos on fighting frauds and scams on its YouTube channel.
NCUA Warns Consumers about “Spoofing” Scam Mimicking Agency’s Telephone
The National Credit Union Association (NCUA) alerted consumers that text messages were sent from the phone number 703-518-6301, requesting personal information. The NCUA does not and will not ask for any personal information. This type of attempted fraud is termed, “Spoofing” where the perpetrators mimic a phone number to create and send text messages. Such messages may contain information warning the consumer that the debit card limit has been maxed or sending a web link directing the member to a malicious site.
Should you receive a text message as stated above, please contact the NCUA Consumer Assistance Center Hotline at 800-755-1030. For more information, visit the NCUA website.
Fiserv recently published tips on how to protect your debit and credit cards from fraud when using at point of sale. Check them out below:
If you visit an ATM or a retailer and the equipment or behavior of the employee on staff is suspect then it may be a good idea to not present your payment card for a transaction. Contact your card issuer if you have completed a transaction and suspect that your card or PIN may have been compromised.
Be aware of your available account balances. Ask your card provider if they offer account alert technology that will deliver SMS text communications or emails to you in the event that fraudulent activity is linked to your payment card.
Update your address and cell phone information with every single card issuer that you do business with so that you can be reached if there is ever a critical situation that requires your immediate attention.
Use caution when speaking to someone on the phone who reaches out to you as a bank representative. Criminal actors regularly portray themselves as helpful payment card reps so that they can steal your personal information. It is perfectly acceptable to hang up on a suspicious caller and then place your own call to your card issuer to determine if they were trying to reach you.
Wiggling that card reader isn’t just an activity reserved for merchants. Next time you are using an ATM or paying at the gas pump give the card reader a firm handshake and if it wiggles just a little bit use a safer alternative in a totally different location.
Cover your “PIN entry” hand to keep any nearby cameras from capturing what you enter.