Fraud Protection Center
Protecting Your Privacy, Your Identity, and Your Money
At the IDB-IIC Federal Credit Union, Security over Member Information and Accounts is fundamental. Our job and responsibility is not only keeping your assets and personal information safe, but also ensuring that you know how to protect them with everyday decisions.
It is more important than ever to understand the different types of fraud, and what you can do to prevent yourself from becoming a victim. The following is some essential information to help you protect yourself against multiple types of fraud.
PROTECT YOURSELF FROM hOLIDAY sHOPPING FRAUD!
‘Tis the Season to be Merry, and Very, Very Wary...
...of Credit and Debit Card Scams when Shopping Online.
Here’s how to stay safe during the holidays.
If you’re like most Americans, you’ll do a lot of online shopping this holiday season with your credit or debit card. It’s convenient, easy, and saves time and gas. But here’s a bah humbug moment: it’s also peak season for scammers and hackers.
In fact, during last year’s holiday season, online shopping fraud increased by 22%, with a fraudulent attempt happening one out of every 85 transactions, according to the Business Wire.
But don’t close your laptop and gas up the car just yet. With a little awareness and caution, your online holiday shopping can be safe and convenient. Besides, you’ll never get parking at the mall this time of year, so follow these...
Seven Ways to Avoid Holiday Online Shopping Scams
1. Stick with Big, Familiar Brands: Amazon, Costco, Walmart, and other large well-known online retailers have invested heavily in online security. So sticking with these online merchants is a good way to protect yourself against online shopping fraud. Be very wary of sites that don’t end in .com or that have odd titles you’ve never heard of. These are major signs of scammers on the hunt for your debit or credit card information.
2. Look for an “HTTPS”: Legitimate, quality online shopping retailers care about your security. One clue that an online retailer has invested in protection from fraud is in its URL, or address bar. It should begin with “https,” not “http.” There should also be a padlock icon ( ) next to it. These are signs that your financial information will be protected during your purchase.
3. Saving Could Cost You: Saving money on your holiday shopping: good. Sites saving your financial information: not so much. Many sites will offer to save your credit or debit card information for future transactions. This might sound good: even more convenience when you return for Uncle Hal’s present! But remember, the more places your financial information is stored, the more chances you have to become a victim of the next headline-grabbing security breach.
4. Avoid Public WiFi Hotspots: These days, you can buy your significant other’s gift while waiting for a flight or ordering a Venti soy no-foam mocha latte! Isn’t the world of free WiFi wonderful? Well, yes, and no. The common-area WiFi spots in places such as cafes, airports, bookstores, etc. also make it easier for hackers to steal your financial and personal information. It’s much safer to stick with your secured home network for any online shopping.
5. Stay Up-to-Date on Your Statements: The holidays can be a busy time, so it’s easy to forget to check your debit and credit card statements carefully. With some consumers planning to spend an average of $846 on gifts this season, according to Experion, it can be easy to miss a fraudulent charge. But thieves count on this. So check your statements vigilantly and report any suspicious charges immediately.
6. Set Alerts: Your IDB-IIC FCU debit card comes with the MobiMoney mobile application free of charge. With the app, you can set instant alerts of any transactions; turn off your cards; limit card transactions based on location, amount or type; set merchant preferences; and more. As they say, knowledge is power, and these MobiMoney features give you a lot of fraud-stopping power.
7. Refuse Email and Other Requests for Financial or Personal Information: Legitimate online retailers create safe websites, with secure online forms for you to fill out. They will never ask for your credit or debit card information via email, text, or phone. But scammers will often contact you by email, phone or text. Never give your financial or personal information to a retailer you do not contact yourself.
If you do become a victim of credit or debit card fraud, there are important steps you should take:
● Report the crime to your credit or debit card issuer as soon as you become aware of it.
● Have your credit or debit cards canceled and replaced with cards with new numbers.
● Remember to give your new credit or debit card numbers to any entities with which you use auto-pay.
● Report the crime to the police, if necessary.
We at IDB-IIC FCU wish you and your family a wonderful -- fraud-free -- holiday season. It’s our goal to make your financial life healthy and stress-free.
elder financial Exploitation is on the rise
How to protect yourself or your loved one from scam artists who prey on the elderly.
Elder financial exploitation is one of those crimes that you think will never happen to you or one of your loved ones. Unfortunately, it could, and does. In fact, one in 20 seniors reported some form of perceived financial mistreatment, according to the National Adult Protection Services Association (NAPSA). Also, in recent years, financial abuse against seniors has been increasing.
Scammers target the elderly because often they are less savvy with technology and have a higher rate of savings. These thieves can be very convincing too, posing as IRS agents, financial professionals, or even trusted caregivers.
So it is essential to stay aware of common scams, and where and whom they come from. After all, you have worked too hard for your money, to lose it to frauds and crooks.
The good news is that with a little knowledge, it’s easy to avoid falling prey to a scam. So read on for helpful tips to keep you or your loved one’s finances safe.
Withing the Family
Sadly, the vast majority of financial abuse toward seniors comes from a trusted source, such as family members, caregivers, personal attorneys, or even your doctor, says NAPSA. These people sometimes take advantage of the elderly because they trust them and rely on them for managing their finances and healthcare.
How to Spot Financial Scams
By now, we are all onto those emails from the “African prince” who offers thousands in return for a few hundred dollars “to release my American funds.” But not all elderly financial abuse is as easy to spot. Here are other common, and often more costly, scams to look out for:
Scams by Strangers
You might think that a stranger would never deceive you or your family members, but these days, scammers are sophisticated and slick. Detecting fraud can be difficult. Here are some common scams.
•Charity Scams: These include calls or emails that solicit funds for a phony charity. These are very common after a natural disaster.
•Family Member in Trouble Scam: Your elderly family member are informed that their grandson or daughter is in jail and they need to send money immediately.
•Phone Scams: Sophisticated fraud artists will call them with ominous news, such as money owed for back taxes or credit card bills. Often, they involve threats and ultimatums.
•Lottery and Sweepstakes Scams: Your elderly relatives will get a call or email with great news: they have won a lottery or sweepstakes, and all they have to do is wire hundreds or thousands of dollars in advance to cover taxes.
If you ever suspect something is not right when someone is asking or pressuring you or your family members for money, do not respond. Any legitimate agency or official can wait the hours or days it will take you to check the legitimacy of their claims.
Scams by So-Called “Professionals”
It’s very common for scam artists to pose as a professional. So it can be difficult to tell the difference between a good cause or good deal and a scam. Here are some common “professional” scams.
•Investment Schemes: It’s common for scam artists to pose as licensed professionals offering unreasonable returns on investment, phony investments, and other risky financial products.
•Predatory Lending: Seniors can often be pressured into taking out inappropriate reverse mortgages or other loans.
•Internet Bank Account Scams: Never trust emails that ask for sensitive personal or financial information, such as account numbers, social security numbers or passwords.
Again, any legitimate professional understands your right to check into their background and licenses. If you or your loved ones feel pressured or hurried to invest money or sign agreements, it is a sign something is wrong.
Financial Exploitation by Family Members and Trusted Caregivers
Sadly, all too often, those closest to you could be the perpetrators of elder financial abuse. Here are common ways they take advantage of your loved one’s trust:
•Power of Attorney and Joint Bank Accounts: With power of attorney or joint bank accounts, an unscrupulous person can steal their money without their knowledge.
•Threats: Sometimes, caregivers or family members threaten the elderly with abandonment or abuse unless they are given what they want. This is nothing short of extortion.
•ATM cards and Checks: Stolen checks and ATM cards are another potential way for theft.
•Refusing Care: Abusers sometimes refuse to provide needed medical care for elderly relatives to keep the money for themselves.
•Caregiver Fraud: In-home caregivers sometimes charge for services that should be included, keep change from errands, pay their bills with the elderly’s account, or do not provide care for which they’ve been paid.
How to Protect Yourself or Your Loved One
There are simple ways you can protect yourself or your loved one. Here are some ways to keep finances safe.
•Get a second opinion. Ask a trusted attorney, accountant or family member to review monthly bank statements, financial documents, or any agreement you or your loved ones are considering.
•Don’t agree to joint accounts unless you are sure you can trust the other party, and encourage members in your family to do the same. Remember, joint account holders have equal access to the money.
•If someone is granted Power of Attorney, make sure any compensation, if any, is specified. Lastly, make sure you and your loved ones fully understand every part of the agreement.
•Use Direct Deposit for your checks, and encourage your elderly family members to do the same. That way, the money goes straight from the source to the account.
•Cancel Credit or ATM Cards that you and your elderly family members do not use.
•Make sure you and your family members never give away an ATM PIN number.
•Never provide a stranger with the bank account number.
•Never sign blank checks for another person to fill in the amount or payee.
•Make sure you and your loved ones never sign anything you do not understand or don’t feel comfortable with.
•Remember the old adage: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
We at IDB-IIC FCU hope this has been helpful. Our number one goal is to help you protect your assets. If you have any questions about this or any subject, don’t hesitate to ask. We’re here for you.
Identity theft can occur when an individual obtains personal information, such as your social security number, date of birth, address, and financial account numbers. Once this information is obtained, the thieves will assume or take on your identity, allowing them to illegally purchase items or obtain credit.
Tips for protecting yourself from Identity Theft:
- Review your account activity regularly. Make sure to look over your account statements each month and check any unauthorized charges or suspicious activity.
- Set up alerts on your account so you can get notifications whenever certain transactions take place on your credit card.
- Share your Social Security Number sparingly. Make sure to keep your Social Security Card in a safe place, and only share it when absolutely necessary.
- Shred financial statements and other important documents to prevent thieves from gaining access to any of your personal information.
- Use strong passwords and be sure to change them regularly.
Who should you contact if you suspect Fraud:
- Credit Bureaus. Immediately call the fraud units of the three credit reporting companies -- Experian, Equifax and Trans Union. Ask that your account include a statement referencing the possibility of fraud.
- Creditors. Contact all creditors immediately with whom your name has been used fraudulently -- by phone and in writing. Monitor your accounts closely for any further fraudulent activity.
- Law Enforcement. Report the crime to police with jurisdiction in your case. Provide any documentation that you have collected. Get a copy of your police report. Keep the phone number of your fraud investigator handy and give it to creditors and others who require verification of your case.
- Financial Institutions. If you have checks stolen or bank accounts set up fraudulently, contact the institution to report the crime. Put stop payments on appropriate outstanding checks. Close your checking and savings accounts and open new accounts. If your ATM card is stolen or compromised, get a new card and PIN. When choosing a PIN, don't use common numbers like the last four digits of your Social Security number, your date of birth, license number or street address.
- U.S. Postal Service. Notify the local Postal Inspector if you suspect an identity thief has filed a change of your address with the post office or has used the mail to commit credit or bank fraud.
- Social Security Administration. Call to report fraudulent use of your Social Security number.
- Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Call to see if another license was issued in your name. Go to your local DMV to request a new number. Also, fill out the DMV's complaint form to begin the fraud investigation process. Send supporting documents with the completed form to the nearest DMV investigation office. Request a driver's license number different than your Social Security number if available in your state.
- Civil Courts. If a civil judgment has been entered in your name for actions taken by your impostor, contact the court where the judgment was entered and report that you are a victim of identity theft. If you are wrongfully prosecuted for criminal charges, contact the state Department of Justice and the FBI.
Credit Card Fraud
Credit card fraud generally occurs when cards or card numbers are compromised. By following these simple guidelines your potential for loss can be minimized.
Tips for protecting yourself against credit card fraud
- Keep a list of all your credit cards including the account number and phone number to the issuing company
- Review your credit card statement as soon as possible. Match charges with your receipts to ensure all charges are yours and are for the correct amount.
- Always sign a new credit card immediately.
- When making a purchase with a credit card, make sure you get the card back and the receipt. Check the receipt for accuracy.
- When using a credit card at a restaurant or store, make sure that all blank lines are marked through so that no one can change the final amount.
- Never sign blank credit card receipts.
- Only travel with the credit cards you plan on using.
- Never give your credit card number over the phone unless you initiate the call.
Check Cashing Fraud
Check cashing fraud occurs when individuals use information taken from your check to access your accounts and commit fraudulent acts. By following these simple guidelines, you can greatly reduce your risk of becoming a victim.
Tips for protecting yourself against check cashing fraud
- Always safeguard your checks. Make sure they are always put away somewhere safe.
- Keep your blank checks and canceled checks in a secure location; destroy old blank checks if you are not going to use them.
- Limit the amount of personal information printed on the checks to your name and address. Use plain designed checks. The fancier the check the easier it is to forge the signature. Useful information for thieves includes not only your account numbers, but information used to verify your identity, such as your driver's license number, or social security number.
- Do not leave your bill payments sitting in an unlocked mailbox for pickup. Go to the Post Office directly or use a curbside USPS mailbox (the blue metal ones) and drop your bills in the slot rather than using less secure street mailboxes.
- Be discreet when writing checks in public places. Write your checks carefully and leave no space in which figures or words can be inserted.
- When you make an error in writing a check, be sure to destroy the check or write "canceled" across it and store it with your other canceled checks.
- If your checks are lost or stolen, report it immediately to your financial institution.
- Reconcile your monthly statements as soon as you can to ensure all transactions are accurate. Contact us immediately if you do not receive it when expected.
- When you reorder checks, mark your calendar. If you don't receive your checks within 15 working days, contact your financial institution immediately to inquire as to the status of the order.
- Consider alternatives to writing checks. For instance, paying by phone, online, Bill Pay or setting up automatic payments.
Debit Card Fraud
Debit Card fraud can occur when individuals lose their card, give their card to someone else to use, or when their Personal Identification Number's confidentiality is compromised. By following these simple guidelines you can greatly reduce your exposure to Debit Card fraud.
Tips for protecting yourself against Debit Card fraud
- Never write your Personal Identification Number (PIN) on your card or in your wallet. Memorize your PIN as soon as possible and do not reveal your PIN to anyone not authorized to use the account.
- Never use your date of birth, social security number, license number or street address as a PIN -- those are the first numbers a crook will try.
- Don't throw away your ATM receipts at the ATM location. Keep them to reconcile your account, then dispose of them properly when you get home.
- Always be aware of your surroundings when using the ATM. If it is late at night, try to use a machine that is well lit and avoid dark, remote locations.
- Always make sure to retrieve your ATM card from the machine when the transaction is complete.
- Be aware of people waiting in line behind you. Make sure no one can see you entering your PIN or how much money you withdraw.
- Review your statement promptly to ensure all transactions are accurate. Report any discrepancies immediately.
- Destroy old ATM cards immediately after receiving your replacement cards.
In addition to the types ATM fraud that most of us are now aware of, there are two new types that can clean out your account quickly -- card withholding and skimming.
Card withholding occurs when thieves put something in the ATM slot to make the customers’ cards jam. Then, when someone uses the ATM the thieves can watch as you enter your PIN number over and over again. This is very common at drive-up ATMs where the user may not be paying attention to other people or cars nearby.
Skimming is done at businesses that offer Point-of-Sale (POS) devices for you to pay with your ATM card, such as gas stations. Thieves will typically convince an employee to allow them to connect a laptop computer to the POS machine. The laptop is usually stored under the counter where the POS device is located. When you swipe your card in the POS device to make a payment the information on the magnetic strip on your ATM card is copied and loaded onto a disk. Thieves may also install a hidden video camera that records you entering your PIN. They then match the magnetic information to the PIN and access your accounts.
Internet Security - Phishing Scams
Phishing is an internet scam in which e-mail spam or pop-up messages are used to deceive you into divulging personal or financial information over the internet. Phishers will send you an email or a pop-up message that appears to be from a company that you deal with – your credit card company, credit union or a government agency. The message usually requests that you update or validate account information and it will direct you to a website that looks just like the legitimate organization’s website, but it isn’t. The purpose of the bogus website is to deceive you into entering your personal information so the scammer’s can steal your identity and commit crimes in your name.
Tips to protect yourself against "Phishing Scams"
- If you get an email or pop-up message that asks for personal or financial information, do not reply. And don't click on the link in the message, either. Legitimate companies don't ask for this information via email. If you are concerned about your account, contact the organization mentioned in the email using a telephone number you know to be genuine, or open a new Internet browser session and type in the company's correct Web address yourself. In any case, don't cut and paste the link from the message into your Internet browser — phishers can make links look like they go to one place, but that actually send you to a different sites.
- Never give your personal information via e-mail. IDB-IIC FCU will never request personal information via email.
- If you want to update your information, go directly to our website by opening a new browser window, and typing www.idbcreditu.org in the address.
Never go to our web site by clicking a link in an e-mail.
- When entering personal account information, verify that you are on a secure website. If the website is secure, you will find "https" in the address and a closed padlock in your browser's toolbar.
- Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, as well as a firewall, and update them all regularly. Some phishing emails contain software that can harm your computer or track your activities on the Internet without your knowledge. Anti-virus software and a firewall can protect you from inadvertently accepting such unwanted files.
Phone Security - "Vishing" Scams
Vishing is a scam similar to Phishing, a scam involves sending a spam email or pop-up message telling you that your account has been compromised and will instruct you to call a phone number to verify your account information. An official sounding automated message will ask you to enter your personal financial information such as your 16 digit credit card number. Some of these scams involve a telephone call to the victim directly in which the caller already has your credit card number but asks you to verify the valuable three digit security code.
Tips to protect yourself against "Vishing" Scams
- Never give your personal information over the phone. If you feel a call is suspicious, call the company directly to verify the authenticity of the call.
- Beware of organizations asking for charitable donations. If you want to donate money, contact the organization yourself to make sure that your money is going to the appropriate place.
Text Message Security - "Smishing" Scams
Smishing is a scam similar to Vishing for Phishing, but gets its name from SMS text messaging. Smishing is when a scammer sends you a text message claiming that there is a problem with your bank account and asks you to text back n order to reactivate your account. Other Smishing scam text messages may include a link to a website you that you must click on to resolve the “problem.”
Tips for protecting yourself against "Smishing" Scams
1. Don’t respond in any way to Smishing messages, even if it is just to ask the sender to leave you alone. Responding will verify that your phone number is active, and will prompt the scammer to keep trying
2. Never click on any links or call phone numbers in an unsolicited text message. Simply delete the message from your phone
3. Report the message to your cell phone service’s scam text reporting number, or the general customer service number.
Protect Your Privacy
Fraud comes in many shapes and sizes and unfortunately, it will never go away. Nor will the money and time spent fixing it. That’s why it’s vital to ramp up your security arsenal.
While fraud operators are constantly developing new viruses, spyware and online fraud schemes, the good news is that you can take action to protect yourself against online fraud.