In today's digital landscape, sophisticated identity theft and scams are on the rise. Here are some precautions you can take to safeguard yourself and your information:
- Keep your personal information secure and up-to-date: Do not share your Social Security number, credit card numbers, or any other personal information with anyone, especially through email or over the phone. If you need to communicate about your account through email, we recommend using our secure message center available in online banking and the mobile app.
- Monitor your accounts regularly: Check your account statements and transactions regularly to ensure that there are no unauthorized charges or withdrawals. We recommend activating e-statements to reduce your risk of mail fraud.
- Use secure passwords: Use strong passwords for all your online accounts and change them frequently. Avoid using the same password for multiple accounts. (Too many passwords to remember? Try downloading a trusted password manager like Bitwarden!)
- Use notifications: Use notifications to help stay connected to your account and account activity. You can easily set up transactional, access, and transfer alerts in online banking and the mobile app by clicking "Notifications" in the "Accounts" dropdown menu.
- Be cautious of suspicious emails and phone calls: Be careful of emails or phone calls requesting your personal information or asking you to click on links or download attachments.
- Enable Two-factor authentication: Enable two-factor authentication on all your online accounts to provide an extra layer of security. You can set up two-factor authentication in online banking or the mobile app in the "Security" tab of your settings.
- Don't use public Wi-Fi: Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks to access your account or other sensitive information as these networks can be easily hacked.
- Secure your devices: Make sure your computer, phone, and other devices have up-to-date anti-virus and anti-malware software installed. Routinely download any system updates to ensure your protection is up to date.
- Be careful when using ATMs: Be cautious when using ATMs and check for any signs of tampering before inserting your card.
- Review your credit report: Check your credit report regularly to ensure that no unauthorized accounts have been opened in your name. While we are happy to pull your credit report and review it with you we recommend using Credit Karma for credit monitoring.
- Report any suspicious activity: If you notice any suspicious activity on your account, report it to us immediately.
By following these steps, you can help protect yourself from fraud and keep your personal information secure.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is identity theft and how does it happen?
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is the illegal use of another's personal data, such as name, address, birth date, and Social Security number. The National Council on Identity Theft Protection reports that losses from identity theft cost Americans $5.8 billion in 2021. The Federal Trade Commission reports they received 5.7 million total fraud and identity theft reports in 2021, of which 1.4 million were consumer identity theft cases.
How Does it Happen?
Studies show that personal information often used in identity fraud scams has been stolen from carelessly handled paper sources. A casually discarded receipt, a personal document or checkbook kept in your desk drawer, or applications casually stored can result in fraud.
Fraud can also occur when merchants do not have adequate controls in place to protect information they collect from you for a transaction. This includes debit or credit card data, personal information on your checks, and personal information you provide when applying for a store discount or membership card.
Friends, family members, and neighbors are implicated in approximately half of the fraud cases, resulting in losses nearly seven times more than losses from online fraud.
Technology-based scams are a very real threat; however, while your attention is focused on computer firewalls and security updates, don't ignore the threats that come from dumpster diving, mail theft, checkbooks left unattended, sensitive documents left in an unlocked drawer, or data skimmed from a diner's credit card.
What types of fraud has the credit union seen?
1. Account takeover - when a fraudster uses your credit or debit card account information to buy goods and services.
2. Application fraud - what some experts call "true ID theft." The thief uses stolen identifying information to open new accounts using a false address, and possibly even obtaining false ID, such as a driver's license, in your name.
3. Electronic crime - mostly unauthorized online banking transactions as the result of the following:
- Phishing emails: fake e-mails luring you to a spoofed website to collect personal information
- Spoofing: bogus "lookalike" websites, which ask you to provide personal information
- Pharming: redirecting web traffic to a bogus site
I think I may be a victim of identity. What do I do?
If you are a victim of identity theft, these are just some of the steps you may want to consider.
- Notify Northern Skies FCU and any other institutions where you have accounts so those accounts can be protected.
- Immediately report stolen credit, debit, and ATM cards to the card issuers. Your liability under federal law for unauthorized use of your ATM or debit card, or for fraudulent transfers, depends on how quickly you report the loss.
- Notify the DMV if your driver's license has been stolen.
- Place fraud alerts with credit bureaus.
- Check credit reports. You are entitled to a free report once a fraud alert is filed.
- File a request to have fraudulent information removed.
- Place a fraud alert with the Social Security Administration.
- Notify the postal inspector if the identity theft is the result of mail fraud. Your local post office can direct you.
- Review accounts and use standard affidavits to report disputes (available from FTC - link below).
- Close accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
- File a police report and keep a copy.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov
- Keep a log of all the steps you take; include the names, titles, phone numbers and extensions of people you speak to.
Who to Contact
Experian Credit Reporting Bureau
PO Box 2002
Allen Texas 75013
TransUnion Credit Reporting Bureau
PO Box 2000
Chester PA, 19022-2000
Equifax Credit Reporting Agency
PO Box 740256
Atlanta, Georgia 30374