Fraud Avoidance Do’s and Don’ts
Here are some things you can do (and some things you should not do!) to protect yourself against fraud.
- Be on guard for phishing scams.
- Shred all personal and financial information before you throw it away.
- Keep your personal documents (e.g., birth certificate, Social Security card, etc.) and your bank and credit card records in a secure place.
- Call the post office immediately if you are not receiving your mail.
- Be aware of your surroundings when entering your Personal Identification Number (PIN) at an ATM.
- Limit the number of credit cards and other personal information that you carry in your wallet or purse.
- Report lost or stolen credit cards immediately.
- Cancel all inactive credit card accounts. Even when not being used, these accounts appear on your credit report, which is accessible to thieves.
- If you have applied for a credit card and have not received the card in a timely manner, immediately notify the appropriate financial institution.
- Closely monitor the expiration dates on your credit cards. Contact the credit issuer if the replacement card is not received prior to your credit card’s expiration date.
- Sign all new credit cards upon receipt.
- Review your credit reports annually.
- Use passwords on your credit cards, bank accounts, and phone cards. Avoid using the obvious passwords – such as your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, and the last four digits of your Social Security or phone number.
- Match your credit card receipts against monthly bills to make sure there are no unauthorized charges.
- Volunteer any personal information when you use your credit card.
- Give your Social Security number, credit card number, or any bank account details over the phone unless you have initiated the call and know that the business that you are dealing with is reputable.
- Leave receipts at ATMs, bank counters, or unattended gasoline pumps.
- Leave envelopes containing your credit card payments or checks in your home mailbox for postal carrier pickup.
- Record your Social Security number or passwords on paper and store them in your wallet or purse. Memorize your numbers and/or passwords.
- Disclose bank account numbers, credit card account numbers, and other personal financial data on any website or online service location, unless you receive a secured authentication key from your provider.
Understand & Avoid Phishing Scams
Phishing refers to scams that attempt to trick consumers into revealing personal information, such as bank account numbers, passwords, payment card numbers, or Social Security numbers. These scams can be done by phone, email, regular mail, and even via text message. In addition to seeking bank information, phishers may also try to obtain your ATM PIN or any other bits of data that can help them build a more complete profile from which they can operate in your name.
Most commonly, phishers target unsuspecting users with fake internet sites or email messages that look legitimate. This is sometimes referred to as “spoofing.” Scammers also may leverage social networking sites, where users are already accustomed to sharing information with others.
Phishing emails and websites typically use familiar logos and graphics to deceive consumers into thinking the sender or website owner is a government agency, bank, retailer, or other company they know or do business with. Sophisticated phishers may include misleading details, such as using the company CEO’s name in the email “from” field. Another common phishing tactic is to make a link in an email (and the fake website where it leads) appear legitimate by subtly misspelling URLs or changing the “.com” to “.biz” or another easily overlooked substitution.
Some phishing scams even lure victims by telling them that their information has already been jeopardized. For example, potential victims may receive an email that appears to come from a major bank warning that their account has recently been exposed to fraudulent activity. Users are asked to click a link within the message, so they can “confirm” their bank account information. Instead of going to the bank’s legitimate website, however, victims are taken to a clever lookalike, where their information actually is routed to the scammer.
If you receive any message asking you to confirm account information that has been “stolen” or “lost” or encouraging you to reveal personal information in order to receive a prize, it may be a form of phishing.
Always view any phone or email requests for financial or other personal information with suspicion, particularly any “urgent” requests. When in doubt, do not provide any information without first verifying the legitimacy of the request by calling the number you have for that financial institution (printed on the back of your payment card, in your personal records, etc.) Do not use a phone number provided by the caller or provided in the suspicious email.
MCT Credit Union and Visa will not call or e-mail you to request your personal account information. You may be asked to verify your personal information when you initiate a call to us because we want to make sure it is really you (and not somebody trying to steal your information).
Protect Yourself from Identity Theft
MCT Credit Union actively monitors account activity to protect its members from fraud. Anybody can become a victim of identity theft or fraud, but you can reduce your chances by understanding the risk factors and taking steps to protect yourself.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)’s On Guard Online website has additional information about identity theft, phishing, spam, online shopping scams, how to monitor your credit history, and more. You can even take quizzes to test your identity theft prevention knowledge.
The more closely you safeguard your personal information, the less likely you are to become a victim of identity theft. Before you reveal any personal financial information, you should make sure you know who you are dealing with, how the information will be used, and if it will be shared with others.
Here are a few quick tips for keeping your personal information secure.
- Share your SSN sparingly. Ask if you can use another identifier (such as a driver’s license number) instead of your social security number. Keep in mind that your SSN will be needed for documents like income tax records, medical records, credit bureau reports, college records, loan applications, and vehicle registrations.
- Do not carry your Social Security card in your wallet. Unless you know you are going to need your original Social Security card for something, leave it at home or in a safe place. If you do have to take it with you somewhere, remember to put it back at the end of the day.
- Keep documents secure. Limit the number of documents you keep that contain personal information and store them in a safe place to prevent prying eyes from seeing your personal information. Choose secure online delivery methods (like e-statements) to limit the volume of paper documents you maintain.
- Properly dispose of documents. Do not just throw away documents like checking/share draft copies and statements, receipts with a credit card imprint, insurance forms, expired credit cards, savings and investment account statements, and credit card offers. Shred these items to prevent a thief from stealing your identity.
- Review your statements. Look over your credit card and account statements each month for unauthorized charges or suspicious activity. If something does not look right, make sure you report it right away.
- Review your credit report. By law, you are entitled to request and receive a free copy of your credit report each year from the credit-reporting agencies. Verify that your credit report is accurate and includes only activities you have authorized.
- Check your mail. If you do not receive mail for a few days, contact the U.S. Postal Service to make sure it has not been diverted by a thief filling out a change of address form in your name.