CSCU Cares About Your Financial Security
CSCU is committed to educating you about fraud and identity theft. This section is devoted to explaining some of the more prevalent scams and frauds, and includes ways you can protect yourself. For more information on possible risks to your financial security and how to protect your identity, visit the Federal Trade Commission's Web site
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Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information, such as your name, Social Security number or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. The FTC estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year.
Identity theft is a complicated crime and you need a comprehensive solution. IdentitySecureTM
provides access to benefits and services that help prevent, detect and resolve identity theft issues.
Receive comprehensive coverage and peace of mind for a minimal monthly fee. Get more information and sign up
How Does Identity Theft Occur?
Skilled identity thieves use a variety of ways to gain access to your personal information.
What Do Thieves Do with Your Personal Information?
- They may steal your wallet or purse.
- They may steal your personal information through e-mail or the phone. This is done by pretending they represent a legitimate company and claiming that you have a problem with your account. This practice is known as online "phishing" or "pretexting" by phone.
- They may steal your credit or debit card numbers by capturing the information in a data storage device, which is a practice known as "skimming."
- They may swipe your card for an actual purchase or attach a device to an ATM machine where they may enter or swipe your card.
- They may retrieve your credit reports by abusing authorized access.
- They may rummage through your trash, the trash of businesses or public trash dumps, in a practice known as "dumpster diving."
- They may steal personal information they find in your home.
- They may steal your mail from your mailbox, including bank and credit card statements, credit card offers, new checks and tax information.
- They may complete a "change of address form" to divert your mail to another location.
- They may steal credit card files from other companies, such as department stores, vendors, suppliers, etc.
Once identity thieves have your personal information, they may use it to commit fraud or theft. For example:
How Can You Tell If You Are a Victim of Identity Theft?
- They may call your credit card issuer to change the billing address on your account. The imposter then runs up charges on your account. Because the bills are being sent to a different address, it may be some time before you realize there's a problem.
- They may open new credit card accounts in your name. When they use the credit cards and don't pay the bills, the delinquent accounts are reported on your credit report.
- They may establish phone or wireless service in your name.
- They may open a bank account in your name and write bad checks on the account.
- They may create counterfeit checks or credit or debit cards, or authorize electronic transfers in your name and drain your account.
- They may get identification, such as a driver's license issued with their picture in your name.
- They may get a job or file fraudulent tax returns in your name.
If an identity thief is opening new credit accounts in your name, these accounts are likely to show up on your credit report. You can find out by ordering a copy of your credit report from the three nationwide credit reporting agencies. If you have lost any personal information or, if it has been stolen, you may want to check all your reports more frequently for the first year. You are entitled to one free credit report from each of the three agencies each year. To find out more, go to www.annualcreditreport.com
Monitor the balances of your financial accounts each month. Look for unexplained charges or withdrawals. Other indications of identity theft can be:
Ways to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft
- Failing to receive bills or other mail. This could mean an identity thief has submitted a change of address.
- Receiving credit cards for which you did not apply.
- Denial of credit for no apparent reason.
- Receiving calls from debt collectors or companies about merchandise or services you didn't buy.
The Federal Trade Commission, the nation's consumer protection agency, wants you to have the information you need to protect yourself against identity theft. This information is summed up in the FTC's clear and concise message on identity theft: Deter, detect, defend.
Get more details on how you can DETER, DETECT and DEFEND against identity theft
- DETER identity thieves by safeguarding your information.
- DETECT suspicious activity by routinely monitoring your financial accounts and billing statements.
- DEFEND against ID theft as soon as you suspect a problem.
What to Do If Your Identity Is Ever Stolen
Please refer to the detailed steps outlined on the Federal Trade Commission's Web site
. If you have a CSCU checking acount, you can use our comprehensive identity theft services, IdentitySecureTM
Phishing, pronounced "fishing," is the creation of an e-mail message that appears to be sent from a reputable financial institution or company. The intent of phishing is to lure personal information from unsuspecting victims that can be used to commit fraud or identity theft.
What Does a Phishy e-Mail Look Like?
Don't be fooled by e-mails with messages similar to these:
- "We suspect an unauthorized transaction on your account. To ensure that your account is not compromised, please click the link below and confirm your identity."
- "During our regular verification of accounts, we couldn't verify your information. Please click here to update and verify your information."
- "You're credit card will be cancelled if we are unable to verify your personal information today."
Always remember that CSCU will NEVER
ask you to click on an e-mail link to share sensitive financial information. Please notify us whenever you receive a suspicious e-mail or have any other form of unsolicited contact from individuals seeking personal information about your accounts.
Ways to Protect Yourself Against Phishing
The FTC suggests these tips to help you avoid getting hooked by a phishing scam:
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- If you get an e-mail or pop-up message that asks for personal or financial information, do not reply. And DON'T click on the link in the message, either. Legitimate companies don't ask for this information via e-mail. If you are concerned about your account, contact the organization mentioned in the e-mail using a telephone number you know to be genuine.
- Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, as well as a firewall, and update them all regularly. Some phishing e-mails contain software that can harm your computer or track your activities on the Internet without your knowledge. Anti-virus software and a firewall can protect you from inadvertently accepting such unwanted files.
- Forward spam that is phishing for information to firstname.lastname@example.org and to the company, bank or organization impersonated in the phishing e-mail.
Skimming is a hi-tech method of capturing your personal or account information from your credit card, ATM card, debit card or driver's license. An electronic device used to capture this information is called a "skimmer," and can be purchased online for under $50. Your card is swiped through the skimmer and the information contained in the magnetic strip on the card is then read into and stored on the device or an attached computer.
How and Where Does Skimming Occur?
Ways to Protect Yourself Against Skimming
- Skimming at restaurants. Many skimming incidents occur at a restaurant where a server is carrying a skimming device in his or her apron or somewhere close by.
- Skimming devices hidden in ATM machines. It is not uncommon for a thief to be bold enough to tamper with an ATM machine. Typically, a "card trapping" device is inserted into the ATM card slot. This trap scans the card and stores its associated information or just traps the card and doesn't return it to the owner.
- Skimming by store clerks. A very common form of skimming involves store clerks skimming your credit card when you make a purchase.
- Skimming devices hidden in card payment terminals. Skimming is becoming more sophisticated and thieves are rigging card payment terminals with electronic equipment to capture the card information. The recorded card numbers are stored in an additional implanted chip and thieves return later to retrieve it.
Here are some things that you can do to lessen the chances you will become a victim of this tactic:
- Closely monitor anyone who handles your card. Watch anyone that you give your card to for processing, such as a waiter, clerk, attendant, etc. If at all possible, do not let them out of your sight.
- Be aware of your surroundings. The first step to prevent skimming is understanding what is going on around you. Prior to inserting your ATM card, look closely at the ATM card reader to make sure it looks appropriate and is not altered.
Managing and Protecting Your Personal Information
Tips to Safeguard Your Home Computer
Use an Internet firewall.
An Internet firewall helps screen out hackers, viruses and worms before they reach your home office computer or Internet network. Check with the manufacturer of your computer operating system (such as Microsoft) to see if it includes firewall protection.
Keep your computer operating system up to date.
If your computer is more than five years old, its operating system (e.g. Windows 98, OS 7, etc.) may not offer the same level of protection as newer systems. System manufacturers provide frequent updates to help make your system more secure, possibly automatically, through e-mail or via your Internet connection. You may also check their Web sites, including:
- Update your software. Regular software updates can be crucial to keeping your home computer as secure as possible.
- Install, run and keep anti-virus software updated. Commercially available virus protection software helps reduce the risk of contracting computer viruses that can compromise your security. These programs offer continuous upgrades in response to the latest threats. Two of the most popular programs are:
"Low-Tech" Ways of Protecting Your Personal Information
- Be careful with e-mail and instant messages (IM). Even if a message appears to come from someone you know, a file attached to an e-mail message or IM could contain a virus, so be sure to contact the sender by some other means to gain added assurance that the attachment is valid. Also, never reveal personal or financial information in a response to an e-mail request, no matter who appears to have sent it—your home computer may be the target of a phishing scam.
- Use strong passwords and change them often. Strong passwords give you better security against intrusion by hackers and thieves.
- Disconnect from the Internet when not in use. Dedicated services such as DSL or high-speed cable provide a constant connection between your computer and the Internet. Even if you have a firewal installed, as an additional step to help protect yourself, disconnect from the Internet when not in use to avoid unwanted access to your computer's data.
- Use secure Web sites for transactions and shopping. Make sure the Web page you are viewing offers encryption of your data. Often you will see a lock symbol in the lower right-hand corner of your browser window, or the Web address of the page you are viewing will begin with "https://...". The "s" indicates "secured" and means the Web page uses encryption.
Not all crimes are high tech or involve the computer or Internet. Here are some low-tech ways to reduce your risk of old fashioned thievery.
Just to Be on the Safe Side...
- Know your billing and statement cycles. Contact the company's customer service department if you stop receiving your regular bill or statement.
- Shred confidential papers, including offers of credit, before discarding them. Or, you can bring your papers to CSCU's annual Fraud Prevention Day in May and we'll shred them for you!
- Never carry your SSN or birth certificate in your wallet.
- Carry as few cards with personal information as possible.
- Don't print your SSN, birthdate or credit card number on your personal checks, and don't allow store clerks to do so.
- Memorize your PIN and passwords. Shield your hand when using an ATM to prevent "shoulder surfers" from obtaining your codes.
- Don't leave your wallet unattended. Vehicle glove compartments and health club locker rooms are spots thieves go to first.
- Choose hard-to-guess PINs and passwords. When choosing passwords for your accounts, don't use your mother's maiden name, family members' birth dates, your pet's name or other easily guessed word or number.
- Do not place outgoing mail in your mailbox. Deposit mail in a U.S. Postal Service mailbox or at the post office to reduce the chance of mail theft.
- Promptly retrieve incoming mail. Collect your mail as soon as possible every day to limit the opportunity for theft.
- Write a list of your credit card account numbers, including expirations dates and contact information, and safely store this information in case you need to report lost or stolen cards.
- Review your Social Security Earnings and Benefits statement annually to check for fraud.
- Review your credit report. Look over your credit report regularly—at least yearly—for any inaccuracies. You can get a free credit report once a year from each of the three major credit bureaus at www.annualcreditreport.com. For a small fee you can obtain a copy at any time directly from:
- Limit the credit offers you receive. To reduce the credit offers you receive and the information companies share about you, contact the National Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies at 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688).
- Remove your name from marketing lists. The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) notifies its members that they must remove your name from the lists they sell. Their members include the agencies and companies that compile mailing and telemarketing lists. Your name and address remain in the DMA's consumer exclusion files for five years.
Contact the DMA at www.dmaconsumers.org.