Fraud and Identity Theft
Internet criminals want your personal information—and they go “phishing” to get it. They send out emails or pop-up messages claiming to be from institutions, businesses, or organizations that you do business with—ActorsFCU, government agencies, your Internet provider, to suggest a few. The message may ask you to confirm, validate, or update your personal information—and they may suggest something serious will happen if you don’t do this immediately. They then redirect you to a website that looks official enough and proceed to ask you to provide them with your personal and sensitive information. Mission accomplished: they get your personal information and their crimes continue.
REMEMBER: ACTORSFCU ALREADY HAS YOUR ACCOUNT AND CARD NUMBERS. WE WILL NOT REQUEST PERSONAL OR ACCOUNT INFORMATION FROM YOU ONLINE OR BY PHONE. However, in order to protect you, if you call ActorsFCU we will ask you questions to verify who you are before providing any information.
A few suggestions from the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer watchdog, that will help to protect you from “phishers”:
- If you get an email or pop-up message asking 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 email. If you are concerned about your account, contact the organization mentioned in the email using a telephone number you know to be genuine, or open a new Internet browser session and type in the company’s correct Web address yourself. DO NOT cut and paste the link from the message into your Internet browser.
- Don’t email personal or financial information. Email is not a secure method of transmitting personal information. If you initiate a transaction and want to provide your personal or financial information through an organization’s website, look for indicators that the site is secure, like a lock icon on the browser’s status bar or a URL for a website that begins “https:” (the “s” stands for “secure”). Unfortunately, no indicator is foolproof; some phishers have forged security icons.
- Review credit card and ActorsFCU account statements as soon as you receive them to check for unauthorized charges. If your statement is late by more than a couple of days, call your credit card company or ActorsFCU to confirm your billing address and account balances.
- Sign up for eDocs and get your statements online. Enroll in online eDocs and you’ll receive email notifications when ActorsFCU has important information available for you, such as your monthly statements or deposit receipts. They’ll be securely waiting for you online, where you have to log on to your account, using your security code and our dual authentication process. There will be no chance of them getting lost or intercepted in the mail.
- Be cautious about opening any attachment or downloading any files from emails you receive, regardless of who sent them. These files can contain viruses or other software that can weaken your computer’s security.
- Area codes can mislead. Some scammers send an email that appears to be from a legitimate business and ask you to call a phone number to update your account or access a “refund.” Because they use Voice Over Internet Protocol technology, the area code you call does not reflect where the scammers really are. If you need to reach an organization you do business with, call the number on your financial statements or on the back of your credit card. In any case, delete random emails that ask you to confirm or divulge your financial information.
- Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, as well as a firewall, and update them all regularly. Some phishing emails 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. Anti-virus software scans incoming communications for troublesome files. Look for antivirus software that recognizes current viruses as well as older ones; that can effectively reverse the damage; and that updates automatically. A firewall helps make you invisible on the Internet and blocks all communications from unauthorized sources. It’s especially important to run a firewall if you have a broadband connection. Operating systems (like Windows or Linux) or browsers (like Internet Explorer or Netscape) also may offer free software “patches” to close holes in the system that hackers or phishers could exploit.
- Forward spam that is phishing for information to firstname.lastname@example.org, and to the company, financial institution, or organization impersonated in the phishing email. Please forward any spam purporting to be from ActorsFCU to email@example.com.
- If you believe you’ve been scammed, file your complaint at ftc.gov, and then visit the FTC’s Identity Theft website at www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/ Victims of phishing can become victims of identity theft. While you can’t entirely control whether you will become a victim of identity theft, you can take some steps to minimize your risk. If an identity thief is opening credit accounts in your name, these new accounts are likely to show up on your credit report. You may catch an incident early if you order a free copy of your credit report periodically from any of the three major credit bureaus. See www.annualcreditreport.com, myfico.com, creditreport.com or freecreditreportservice.com for details on ordering a free annual credit report.
- Find out about other ways you can avoid email scams and deal with deceptive spam at ftc.gov/spam.
HELP PREVENT FRAUD AND IDENTITY THEFT
The most important tools you have to prevent fraud and identity theft are awareness and managing your personal information carefully.
When someone uses your name, Social Security Number, credit card, or any other personal information to commit financial fraud or other crimes, this is known as “identity theft.” According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, an estimated nine million Americans have to deal with the repercussions of this crime each year.
It can take the form of someone opening new accounts in your name—financial institution, credit card, and utilities—renting apartments, getting government documents, such as a driver’s license, taking a loan out in your name, committing crimes and, upon arrest, giving out your information. They may change the address on your credit card and run up charges—and it will be some time before you ever find out because the bills are no longer sent to your address.
Chances are you may not even find out about the theft until you take a look at your credit report or go through a credit card statement and notice charges you didn’t make. Sometimes people don’t even find out until they get a call from a debt collector.
There are steps you can take to defend against this crime.
- Make sure you safeguard your personal information
- Monitor your accounts and bank statements each month—this way you’ll be aware of any suspicious activity
- Check your credit report regularly (this will also limit any damage caused if your identity is stolen)
- Put passwords on your all your accounts, including your credit card account, and your bank and phone accounts
- Avoid using easily available information — like your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your SSN or your phone number — or obvious choices, like a series of consecutive numbers or your hometown sports team.