Identity Theft Prevention
Follow these tips to greatly reduce the risk of identity theft
- Don't give out personal financial information on the phone unless you initiated the call and you know whom you are speaking to.
- Report lost or stolen checks or credit cards immediately! Keep photocopies of both sides of all credit cards in a safe place at home so if they are stolen you know where to call.
- Review new deliveries of credit cards and checks immediately to make sure none were stolen in transit.
- Notify your financial institution and be very suspicious of any phone inquiries, such as those asking for account information to "verify a statement" or "award a prize."
- Shred any financial statements before disposing of them.
- Put outgoing mail in a secure, official postal service collection box.
- Store new and cancelled checks in a safe place.
- Never give out your ATM Personal Identification Number (PIN) to anyone.
- Study your bills carefully and question any suspicious charges immediately. If a regular bill fails to reach you, call the company right away to find out why.
Stay informed about the common methods used to steal your personal information
In phishing schemes, the perpetrator sends an email to consumers falsely claiming to be from a legitimate company, in hopes of luring consumers to a "spoofed" website. The spoofed website is almost an exact copy of the legitimate website, created for the sole purpose of stealing personal or financial information. Consumer are typically asked to update sensitive personal information, such as names, account and credit card numbers, passwords, Social Security numbers, etc.
In pharming schemes, thieves create false websites to entice customers to enter their personal data. To avoid pharming, make sure you always check the http address. When you get to the page where you're asked to enter personal information, the http should change to https. The "s" stands for secure.
Vishing mimics phishing by trying to trap you into divulging your account numbers. But instead of being phished in an email message, you may receive a phone call from an automated dialer telling you your credit card has been used illegally. You're then asked to dial a fake 800 number asking you to confirm your account details and credit card number.
In this scheme, the keystroke catcher can record all the information typed on a keyboard. This type of theft is more common with computers that are available to the public. To avoid keystroke catchers, check for suspicious devices connected to your keyboard and try not to enter sensitive data on shared computers.
In card skimming, thieves capture your credit data from the magnetic strip of a credit or ATM card. This type of credit card fraud is becoming increasingly common internationally as travelers use their credit cards around the world. How can you keep your credit cards safe? Try to use only one credit card when you are traveling so that you can easily identify and report fraudulent charges if they occur.
Identity thieves who want to steal more than one identity at a time are now looking to databases. How can you guard against database theft? Make sure that the people who keep records on you are being responsible about protecting and encrypting your files.
Please use the secure messaging system through Online Banking when sending
account/personal information electronically to the credit union. Email is inherently insecure and
unless encrypted, there is a chance it could be intercepted or monitored by hackers.
Do not reply to or click on a web link in an email that asks for any personal information unless you have initiated contact with the merchant. Be especially cautious about "urgent" emails warning you that your account will be closed unless you confirm your sensitive information. The government and many financial institutions have a policy of not soliciting a consumer's sensitive information through e-mail. Instead, telephone the company cited in the e-mail using an authenticated number or other form of communication that you are sure is genuine.
Before submitting financial information through a website, look for the locked padlock or other security indicator on the browser's status bar or look for "https://" at the beginning of the web address in the browser's address window. The presence of a padlock or similar indicator and the https:// does not guarantee that the web site is legitimate or secure. However, the absence of either the padlock or the https:// does indicate that the web site is not secure and that it may not be legitimate.
Apply the latest patch for your web browser and operating system software, making sure the patch is legitimate. Review and turn on the appropriate security features in your browser software. If you use a Microsoft operating system, you may wish to turn on the automatic update setting to receive the latest patches as they are released.
Install and periodically update your firewall, as well as anti-virus, anti-spyware, and anti-spam software. Ensure the software is current and operational. If you have children in the house, consider enabling the available parental controls.
For more information regarding Identity Theft, visit the Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft website.