TYPES OF FRAUD
Criminals use fraudulent emails (known as phishes) or pop-up web pages that appear legitimate and are designed to deceive you into sharing personal or account information. The phishes often include logos of legitimate companies, content from their web sites, and names of real employees. Many scammers randomly generate email addresses - that's why you may have received fraudulent emails that appear to be from banks you do not have an account with. They may also obtain email addresses online from Web pages, chat rooms, online auctions, directories or other sources.
Watch for emails that:
Urge you to act quickly because your account may be suspended or closed, or to update your personal information.
Don't address you by name, but use a more generic one like "Dear valued customer."
Ask for account numbers, passwords, Access IDs, or other personal information.
We will NEVER ask for sensitive information, such as account numbers, access IDs or passwords, via e-mail. Tips from the American Bankers Association for safeguarding your information:
Do not give your Social Security number or other personal credit information about yourself to anyone who calls you.
Tear up receipts, bank statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.
Keep an eye out for any missing mail.
Do not mail bills from your own mailbox with the flag up.
Review your monthly accounts regularly for any unauthorized charges.
Order copies of your credit report once a year to ensure accuracy. You may call 1-877-322-8228 for a free credit report from any or all three credit reporting agencies.
Do business with companies you know are reputable, particularly online.
Do not open email from unknown sources and use virus detection software.
Protect your PINs (don't carry them in your wallet!) and passwords; use a combination of letters and numbers for your passwords and change them periodically.
Report any suspected fraud to your bank and the fraud units of the three credit reporting agencies immediately.
TransUnion: (800) 680-7289
Experian: (888) 397-3742
Equifax: (800) 525-6285
Pharming - Pharming occurs when you type in a Web address and it redirects you to a fraudulent Web site without your knowledge or consent. The Web site will try and look similar to the legitimate site in hopes of capturing your confidential information.
Credit Card Fraud - Credit Card fraud can occur when someone takes your card and uses it without your consent. It can also happen when the card sits safely in your wallet.
Phone Solicitations - Scammers will attempt to randomly call people with hopes to lure them with cash gifts or prizes in exchange for personal or account information.
Print Fraud - Scammers will use local and community newspapers publishing fake advertisements with special rates and offers. If clients call, they are asked for their personal information and for an advance payment before the transaction can be completed.
Check Scams - Scammers will overpay for an item purchased and ask the difference to be wired back. Most times the check was counterfeit or forged for a higher amount.
Mail Fraud - Mail fraud occurs when scammers illegally intercept your mail or when you receive unrealistic offers.
If you become a victim, contact:
The fraud departments of the three major credit reporting agencies
The creditors of any accounts that have been misused
The local police to file a report
The bank to cancel existing accounts held in your name and re-open new accounts with new passwords
What is identity theft?
Identity theft occurs when someone acquires your personal information and uses it without your knowledge to commit fraud or theft. It is a serious crime and cases are growing. An all-too-common example is when an identity thief uses your personal information to open a credit card account in your name.
No matter how cautious you are, there is no way to completely prevent identity theft from occurring. But there are ways you can help minimize your risk. This page contains valuable information on how you can protect yourself by managing your personal information wisely, the warning signs of identity theft, and what to do if you do become a victim.
Don't give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the Internet unless you've initiated the contact or are sure you know whom you're dealing with.
Don't carry your Social Security card with you; leave it in a secure place. Carry only the identification and credit and debit cards that you need.
Don't put your address, phone number, or drivers license number on credit card sales receipts.
Social Security numbers or phone numbers should not be put on your checks.
Shred your charge receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, checks and bank statements, expired charge cards that you're discarding, and credit offers you get in the mail.
Secure your credit card, bank, and phone accounts with passwords. Avoid using easily available information like birth date, the last four digits of your SSN, or your phone number. When opening new accounts, you may find that many businesses still have a line on their applications for your mother's maiden name. Use a password instead.
Secure personal information in your home, particularly if you have roommates or hire outside help.
Promptly remove mail from your mailbox. If you're planning to be away from home and can't pick up your mail, call the U.S. Postal Service at 1-800-275-8777 to request a vacation hold.
Ask about information security procedures in your workplace. Find out who has access to your personal information and verify that records are kept in a secure location. Ask about the disposal procedures for those records as well.
Before revealing any personally identifying information (for example, on an application), find out how it will be used and secured, and whether it will be shared with others. Ask if you have a choice about the use of your information. Can you choose to have it kept confidential?
Tips for Social Networking Safety
Use caution when you click links that you receive in emails or messages from your friends. Hackers pretend to send out messages that look like legitimate companies but actually are fake.
Be careful what you post about yourself. A common way that hackers break into online accounts is by using the "Forgot your Password?" link on the login page. To break into your account, they search for the answers to your security questions, such as your birthday, home town, high school, or mother's middle name. If the site allows, make up your own password questions, and don't draw them from material anyone could find with a quick search.
Don't trust that a message is really from who it says it's from. Hackers can break into accounts and send messages that look like they're from your friends, but aren't. If you suspect that a message is fraudulent, use an alternate method to contact your friend to find out. This includes invitations to join new social networks.
To avoid giving away email addresses of your friends, do not allow social networking services to scan your email address book. When you join a new social network, you might receive an offer to enter your email address and password to find out if your contacts are on the network. The site might use this information to send email messages to everyone in your contact list or even everyone you've ever sent an email message to with that email address. Social networking sites should explain that they're going to do this, but some do not.
Type the address of your social networking site directly into your browser or use your personal bookmarks. If you click a link to your site through email or another website, you might be entering your account name and password into a fake site where your personal information could be stolen.
Be selective about who you accept as a friend on a social network. Identity thieves might create fake profiles in order to get information from you.
Assume that everything you put on a social networking site is permanent. Even if you can delete your account, anyone on the Internet can easily print photos or text or save images and videos to a computer.
Be careful about installing extras on your site. Many social networking sites allow you to download third-party applications that let you do more with your personal page. Criminals sometimes use these applications to steal your personal information. To download and use third-party applications safely, take the same safety precautions that you take with any other program or file you download from the web.
Think twice before you use social networking sites at work.
Talk to your kids about social networking. If you're a parent of children who use social networking sites, see How to help your kids use social websites more safely.
Check your credit report
Order copies of your credit report once a year to ensure accuracy. You may call 1-877-322-8228 for a FREE credit report from any or all three credit reporting agencies. (The law allows credit bureaus to charge you up to $9.00 for an additional copy of your credit report.)
Make sure it is accurate and includes only those activities you have authorized.
By checking your report on a regular basis you can catch mistakes and fraud before they wreak havoc on your personal finances. Don't underestimate the importance of this step.
Equifax - www.equifax.com
To order your report, call: 1-800-685-1111
To report fraud, call: 1-800-525-6285