Identity Theft Protection
Identity theft is running rampant. In fact, it is one of the fastest growing crimes in America today. Criminals can make a living opening credit cards, applying for jobs, and even making large purchases using the names of unsuspecting consumers, with something as simple as a social security number and date of birth. Hundreds or even thousands of dollars could be spent in your name long before you even know your identity has been stolen.
Be aware—-Allied Federal Credit Union will never contact you to request your personal information such as account numbers, PINs, user names, passwords, social security number, etc. AFCU already has the information necessary to manage your financial transactions. Identity theft can occur through a variety of methods. Here are just a few:
Phishing happens when someone attempts to steal personal information from you by sending a fraudulent email, claiming to be an organization with whom you have some type of rlationship (i.e. online merchants, financial institutions, etc.)
Phishing emails usually provide a link to a web site and generally tell you that it’s time to update your personal information or that they have upgraded their servers and need you to re-enter your personal information. That personal information might be a username, password, credit card number, and may even be your home address and/or phone number. The link in the email goes to a site that has a similar look and feel (perhaps even a logo) to the site they are imitating, as well as a similar email address. AFCUwill never contact you to request verification or validation of your personal information.
If you receive such an email, DO NOT open the attachment or click on any links in the email. Opening the attachments or clicking on any links could potentially infect your computer with a malicious program and jeopardize the security of your personal information.
Vishing is “voice phishing” which is an attempt to extract personal information from consumers by having them call a bogus phone number (usually an 800 number). When they call, the person answering requests identifying information. This often includes requests for account numbers, debit card numbers and PINS, and the like. The vishing request can arrive via regular mail, email, or a phone call or voice mail. There is typically some sort of urgency to the message, such as the account being deactivated if they do not call.
To avoid being victimized by this scam, AFCU members should only call specific numbers unique to the credit union. The following are legitimate phone numbers for AFCU members:
Phone – 817-856-4444
Fax – 817-265-9442
Tips to Protect Yourself from Online Fraud
Make sure your computer has up-to-date anti-virus software.
Apply all security updates the operating system vendor releases (some systems–Windows XP for instance–will give you the options to turn “on” automatic updates).
Install anti-spyware software and run it regularly.
Use an Internet firewall.
Do not provide personal or financial information to someone who sends unsolicited email or calls you on the phone.
Upgrade your web browser to the latest version. Newer versions contain security features to better protect you.
It’s safer to type web addresses into your browser instead of clicking on links in email.
Change passwords and personal identification numbers (PINs) every 30 to 60 days. NEVER write down your password or PIN.
Whenever possible, use a password that is not a dictionary word.
To learn more about email scams and what you can do to protect yourself online, go to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov.
Tips for Preventing Identity Theft
Buy a paper shredder and use it for any personal information you are throwing away. Anything with your name, credit card number, or other identifying factors can be stolen by thieves rummaging through your trash.
Don’t release personal information unless absolutely necessary, especially your Social Security number. Do not be afraid to challenge requests for personal information.
Don’t leave outgoing mail or bills in your home/apartment mailbox. Instead, drop them at the post office. Don’t leave mail in your mailbox overnight.
Shred credit card applications mailed to you with your personal information already filled in. These can easily be used by thieves to open accounts in your name.
When you order checks, have them mailed to your financial institution instead of your residence so they can’t be stolen out of your mailbox.
Consider placing just your initials and not your full name on your checks.
Obtain a copy of your credit report at least once a year for monitoring. You can get a free credit report each year from the three major bureaus.
Monitor accounts and credit reports. The three major credit bureaus are:
o Equifax 1-800-525-6285 (www.equifax.com*)
o Experian 1-888-397-3742 (www.experian.com*)
o TransUnion 1-800-680-7289 (www.tuc.com*)
Enroll in – – – Monitors your credit history to Alert you to unusual credit activity and changes in your credit bureau reports.
Check fraud is a big challenge facing consumers, businesses and financial institutions. With technological advances in computers, scanners, and color copiers, criminals can easily alter personal checks and produce fake driver’s licenses and social security cards. They can steal hundreds if not thousands or dollars from you with a blank check, a canceled check found, or a check you thought you mailed to pay a bill.
Through a process called check washing, check thieves erase the ink and re-write the checks to themselves, usually increasing the amount as well. In addition to the cost associated with fraud, the inconvenience, stress and anxiety caused in resolving problems with the account and merchants, and possible credit bureau issues can be overwhelming and time-consuming.
Tips to Help KeepYou from Becoming a Victim
Pay bills online instead of writing a check. Services such as AFCU’s Virtual Branch® PayIt are safe, secure and can save you time and money. If you have to write and mail a check, do not mail it from your home mailbox, where it can be easily stolen. Mail it from the post office or a secure, locked mailbox.
Limit the amount of personal information on your check so it’s harder for thieves to steal your identity or open a checking account in your name. Do not include your Social Security, driver’s license, credit card, or telephone numbers.
When you receive your box of checks in the mail, make sure no checks are missing. Alert your financial institution if you have missing checks or do not receive them in the mail.
Don’t leave blank spaces on the payee and amount lines and use dark ink that can’t be easily erased or covered over.
When you order checks, have them mailed to your financial institution instead of your residence.
Use a gel ink pen to write personal checks. It prevents thieves from “washing” your checks and cashing them in their own name. Gel ink pens can be purchased at most office supply stores.
If someone pays you with a cashier’s check, have them accompany you to cash it.
Be sure your checks are endorsed by your financial institution and incorporate security features that help combat counterfeiting and alteration.
Never give your checking account number to people you don’t know, especially over the phone.
Sign up for Virtual Branch® home banking, initiate account Alerts, and view your accounts daily.
Sign up for e-statement to stop account statements from being sent through the mail and subject to theft.
Reconcile your monthly credit union statement within 30 days of receipt in order to detect any unusual activity or unauthorized transactions.
What To Do If It Happens To You
If you suspect you have become a victim of identity theft, immediately contact all three credit bureau agencies. Write a follow up letter to each.
If your credit or debit cards are lost or stolen, report the loss immediately to your financial institution.
As soon as possible, close your accounts at your financial institutions and establish new accounts.
File a police report at your local police department, and keep a copy for your records.
File a claim with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at (877)ID-THEFT or www.consumer.gov/idtheft.
Complete an ID Theft Affidavit to provide to each creditor.
Know your rights