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Welcome To The Insighter!

Explore the latest happenings at Kirtland FCU and learn about important topics from around the financial world. Here’s your insight!


Security Fraud

When it comes to the risk of identity theft, death isn’t the end—it can often be the beginning.

It’s called ghosting, according to the AARP, and every year, the estates of 2.5 million deceased individuals are victimized by this form of identity theft.

Ghosting is a form of digital grave robbing. Using the personal information of a deceased individual, a thief can do a lot of damage before the deceased’s family even notices something is amiss. This is because it can take six months for financial institutions and credit-reporting bureaus to receive, share, or register death records. And since the dead don’t monitor their own credit, and it’s likely their family isn’t monitoring it either, a thief often has an extended period of time to commit further fraud.

Most often, a thief will randomly choose a Social Security number (not a targeted attack), but often ghosting is a crime of opportunity. Nearly 800,000 of those 2.5 million victims each year represent targeted attacks.

Thieves can glean personal information from obituaries, hospitals and funeral homes—information like birth date, home address, and full name. And with those pieces of information, a thief may be able to purchase the deceased’s Social Security number illicitly online.

In many instances, thieves will use the information they’ve gained to file tax returns under the identity of the dead and collect refunds. In fact, in 2011, the IRS paid out $5.2 billion in fraudulent returns.

While surviving family members are not responsible for fraudulent charges and tax filings, a thief can leave quite a mess to untangle in a loved one’s estate.

PROTECT THE ESTATE
  • Don’t list specific birth dates, maiden name, or other personal identifiers in the obituary.
  • Don’t publish home addresses within the obituary. Thieves have even been known to plan home burglaries for the time of the funeral.
  • Use certified mail with “return receipt” to send copies of the death certificate to each credit reporting agency (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) and ask them to place a “deceased alert” on the credit report. Certificates should also be sent to banks, insurers, brokerages, credit card companies, and mortgage companies where the deceased held an account. For join accounts, request the deceased’s name be removed.
  • Report the death to Social Security by calling 1-800-772-1213
  • Contact the state department of motor vehicles to cancel their driver license (to prevent duplicates from being issues to a thief)
  • Monitor the deceased’s credit with AnnualCreditReport.com.  It’s free!
  • Let your loved one’s credit union or bank know as soon as possible! Kirtland FCU can help prevent a fraudster from calling in and doing business as a deceased individual if we’re aware of the passing.
In the midst of grief, protecting a loved one’s identity may be the last thing on a family’s mind. But adding these simple steps to the handling of an estate can help you avoid a lot of headaches and frustration.
 

Home Loans

Refinancing is the process of paying off an existing loan with the proceeds from a new loan and using the same property as collateral. Usually, the interest rate on the new mortgage will be less than the old, the loan will cost less, and you will save money. However, refinancing isn’t appropriate for every homeowner. To know if it’s right for you, here’s a look at the pros and cons of refinancing your home.

The benefits
Many people choose to refinance because the reduced interest rate decreases their monthly mortgage payment, freeing up cash for other expenses. Every percentage point makes a difference. For example, if you refinanced a $200,000, seven-percent interest loan to a loan with six-percent interest, you’d have about $130 more in your pocket each month.

Another reason to refinance is to repay your mortgage faster, which is done by switching a long-term loan for one with a shorter term. With it, your mortgage payment would be higher, but you’d pay much less in interest over the life of the loan while building equity more quickly.

Cash-out refinancing is yet another attractive option. With this type of loan, you’d refinance your current mortgage plus take out some cash from the equity you’ve built up. The benefit? Interest rates on the cashed-out portion are often lower than a home equity line of credit, home equity loan, or second mortgage.

The costs
To determine if refinancing will work in your favor, you’ve got to weigh the savings in interest against the fees associated with refinancing. A new loan means you’ll have to pay most of the same costs you paid the first time around. These may include points, appraisals, attorney’s fees (in Attorney-only states, which does NOT include New Mexico as of August 2019), settlement costs (such as fees for the loan application, title search, appraisal, loan origination, and credit check), recording fees or transfer taxes, and sometimes a pre-payment penalty. All totaled, these costs can be high, and some lenders require at least a portion of them be paid at the time of application.

Much of the loan’s price depends on points. One point equals one percent of a loan, and to get you the lowest rate, most lenders will charge several points. The total cost can run between three to six percent of the whole amount you borrow. Therefore, on a $100,000 mortgage, the lender might charge between $3,000 and $6,000.

Some lenders do offer zero points, but the loan will have a higher interest rate. So, while a “no points loan” may indeed reduce your initial outlay, your monthly payment will be higher.

To know what combination of rate and points is best for you, compare the amount you can pay up front with the amount you can pay monthly. The less time you keep the loan, the more expensive points (and other refinancing costs) become. For example, if your refinancing costs are $3,000 and your payments are $125 lower each month, it will take you 24 months just to break even.

The tax effect
One of the primary advantages of home ownership is the savings you receive on your income taxes—all that interest (up to a million dollars for the first loan, and $100,000 for the second) is tax deductible, after all. Yet if you refinance the loan with a lower interest rate, you’ll have less interest to deduct. The effect may increase your tax payments and decrease the total savings you might obtain from a new, lower-interest mortgage.

If, however, you are in the final years of your mortgage, your payments probably consist of more principal and less interest. In that case, refinancing your mortgage with a longer-term loan will mean you’ll again pay more in interest—and increase your tax deduction. Note: you must check with your tax advisor regarding the deductions of your mortgage interest based on your particular tax situation.)

The best deal
So where do you find the best refinancing deal? The best arrangement may be with your current lender, since some offer original mortgage customers the lowest rates and cut-rate closing costs. Before deciding, though, shop around by calling several lending institutions and ask each one what interest and fees they charge. If you have Internet access, research rates before speaking to a lender, so you’ll be armed with the knowledge of what is out there.

Consumer protection
If the idea of refinancing fills you with as much fear as it does excitement, you have reason. This is a major financial decision, and one not to be taken lightly. Thankfully, some powerful consumer laws protect you against lending abuses.

When you refinance, your lender must provide a written statement (the Loan Estimate) of the costs and terms of the financing before you become legally obligated for the loan. Review this statement carefully. If you refinance with a different lender, or if you borrow beyond your unpaid balance with your current lender, you also must be given the right to cancel within three business days following settlement, receipt of your disclosures, or receipt of your cancellation notice, whichever occurs last.

If your lender charges an application processing fee, ask how much it is and under what circumstances it is refundable. Some lenders do not offer refunds if you are not approved for the loan or if you decide against taking it.

So, is it time to refinance your mortgage? If you will come out ahead financially, then it is definitely worth considering. However, if the difference is minimal or nil, it may not be the answer.

Come visit the Home Loan specialists at the Kirtland FCU Home Loan Center. An experienced loan officer can sit with you and go over your options to help you make the best decision for your situation.


 
This article was prepared by Balance PRO, a partner financial fitness program available to all credit union members!

Home Loans

Do you dream of owning your own home but the thought of meeting with a lender frightens you? Perhaps you are afraid of being turned down, yet again, for a mortgage loan. Or maybe you are overwhelmed with the application process itself? After all, applying for a mortgage can often be complicated and frustrating.
 
But it doesn’t have to be. If you fear you will never realize your dream of home ownership, we have some tips that may help you take the next step to make it a reality. 

Here are five steps you can take now to get mortgage ready:

Step 1: Create a plan to save.
If you are serious about buying a home, figuring out a way to save money is essential, and it all starts with taking the time to create a plan. Your plan begins with a detailed budget, because it’s the most effective tool for achieving financial goals. It will allow you to track and control every dollar you earn every month. Start by paying yourself first. One of the best ways to grow your savings is to put aside money consistently—even if it’s a small amount. Next is identifying your expenses. Be mindful of spending leaks like dining out, soda or snack purchases, entertainment, late fees, etc. Subtract your total monthly expenses from your total monthly income. It’s a good practice to move any surplus to a separate savings account. On the other hand, if you have a shortage of cash at the end of the month, you may need to get creative. Look for ways to cut expenses, plug spending leaks, and maybe even explore ways to temporarily increase your income (overtime, a second job, or a side-hustle). 

Step 2: Review your credit report. 
Lenders begin the application process with a review of your credit report, so you need to know where you are starting. Access your free credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com to ensure your creditors are sharing accurate information about your credit accounts. (Note:  www.annualcreditreport.com is the only source for free credit reports and is authorized by Federal law.)
Dispute any errors you find directly with the credit bureaus. Allow time for your report to be updated after the credit bureaus resolve your dispute (at least 30 days). Satisfy unpaid collections and charge-offs or negotiate with creditors for a less-than-owed payoff and then follow up to be sure your creditor updates. 

TIP: If you have never had credit before, you will need to find a lender that uses an alternative scoring model that takes into account your history of paying your rent, utilities, and insurance in a timely fashion. Lenders may also offer a secured loan option as a way to build credit.

Step 3: Bring your debts current, pay your bills on time and reduce your balances. 
Payment history is one of the primary factors in credit scoring, so start making timely payments on all of your accounts. Look for any late payments that may be dragging your score down that were reported in error. Next, pay close attention to your balances on your revolving accounts (credit cards or lines of credit). How much you charge compared to your extended limit affects your credit score negatively (credit utilization ratio). Reduce your balances or pay them off whenever possible. To avoid lower scores, keep balances low (below 30% of your limit) throughout the application process, and don’t take on any new credit. 

Step 4: Save money for upfront costs and down payment.
You will need money to cover upfront costs when you start the home buying process. Lenders typically collect an application fee or an appraisal fee when you begin the process. Plus, once you find the right home and decide to write an offer to purchase, the seller will likely require an earnest money deposit (amount varies). Finally, as you approach your closing date, you will need to provide funds for the down payment and closing costs which will depend on varying factors like your mortgage type, purchase price, loan amount, and so forth. We recommend you communicate regularly with your lender—the Kirtland FCU Home Loan Team will make sure you know ahead of the closing date exactly how much you will need to bring to closing. 

CAUTION: Upfront fees and earnest money deposits may not be refundable in certain situations. Since a closing involves several different companies, check with each party of your home buying team before entering into any contract to measure the risk of losing upfront fees in the event of cancellation or other issue that would prevent you from closing.

Step 5: Gather your income documentation. 
Before meeting with a Kirtland FCU Home Loan expert or another lender, gather your most recent 30 days of pay stubs, bank statements, and the past two years of federal tax returns. Most lenders will require a two-year employment history (in the same line of work) for each borrower. However, some lenders may make exceptions for recent graduates new to their line of work. Self-employed borrowers may need to provide a profit-and-loss statement and two years of tax returns, instead of pay-stubs. 

While the mortgage application process may seem daunting, being prepared ahead of time will help you breeze through the process. And the more you know, the better prepared you will be when you meet your lender for the first time. 
The Kirtland FCU Home Loan team is dedicated to making your home loan process as simple and transparent as it can be. And since we’re local, it’s easy to ask questions and get guidance. 

Learn more about Kirtland FCU’s great home loan options and the experienced team at KirtlandFCU/Mortgage.

 
This article was prepared by Balance PRO, a partner financial fitness program available to all credit union members!
Read more great articles to prepare for home ownership from Balance PRO.
Saving for Homeownership
Renting Versus Buying a Home
Eight First-Time Home-Buying Mistakes To Avoid

Security Fraud

What do you picture when you think of a “money mule”?
 
Literal interpretations aside, a money mule is a person who is used to transfer and launder illegally acquired money or merchandise (i.e. stolen!) on behalf of or at the direction of another. If you’re a fan of the popular Orange Is The New Black series, you seen an up-close dramatization of a money mule scheme when the main character unwittingly carries drug money onto an international flight.
 
But unlike in the hit series, you don’t have to be in a foreign country to play a money mule role—in fact, you don’t ever have to meet the criminal in person. In this high-tech world, a cyber actor can enter through your computer and, with the right leverage, persuade you to act illegally on their behalf.
 
The FBI recently issued a warning about this particular brand of confidence/romance fraud. Through online dating sites, a criminal finds a mark and begins to build a relationship, to create trust. And leaning on that trust, the cyber actor convinces the mark to open accounts under the guise of sending or receiving funds. If the account is flagged by the financial institution, the cyber actor will either direct the victim to open a new account or choose a new mark and begin again.

In other situations, the fraudster claims to be a European citizen or an American living abroad. After a few months of developing trust, the actor will tell the victim about a lucrative business opportunity.
 
“There are investors willing to fund the project!” says the criminal. “But they need a U.S. bank account to receive funds, and you can help!”
 
The victim is asked to open a bank account or register a limited liability company in the victim’s name and then to receive and send money from that account to other accounts controlled by the fraudster.

Dating sites are popular fishing spots for victims due to the inherent emotional risks that a victim is willing to take. And this isn’t a small scam: in fact, in 2018, the IC3 (Internet Crime Complaint Center) received reports from 18,000 people who claimed to have become victims of confidence/romance fraud. The aggregate losses reached $362 million – an increase of more than 70 percent from 2017.

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF

The following are warning signs that you’re being targeted in a money mule scam:
  •  A false profile picture. Online dating sites require a profile picture, and most criminals do not use their own faces. You can check where else the image is being used online by running a reverse image check. A photo that appears on several other sites or is tied to older fraud scams is a big red flag. To run a search:  
    • Right click on the image and select “Search for image.”
    • Right click again and select “Save image as” to save the photo to your device.
    • Using a search engine, choose the small camera icon to upload the saved image into the search engine.
  • Inconsistent facts. Most dating sites, while monitoring account activity and investigating complaints, do not conduct background checks for registered accounts. Anyone using a dating site can misrepresent themselves. Grandiose stories, vague answers, and inconsistencies should not be ignored.
  • Immediate attempts to talk or chat outside of the dating site.
  • Claims that your meeting was “destiny” or “fate”. This kind of language could be classic grooming behavior.
  • Contact who claims to be currently living, working, or traveling abroad. This includes stories of military service.
  • A request is made for assistance with personal financial or shipping transactions. Criminals may also report a sudden personal crisis in an attempt to justify the request.
No matter the red flags you see, the FBI advises that you NEVER:
  • Send money to someone you meet online, especially by wire transfer.
  • Provide credit card numbers or bank account information without verifying the recipient’s identity.
  • Share your Social Security number or other personally identifiable information that can be used to access your accounts with someone who does not need to know this information.
WHAT IF YOU BECOME A VICTIM?

Do you suspect you’ve been targeted by a criminal for assistance with illegal activities?
 
If you think you’ve been scammed, there’s no reason to be embarrassed— this scam takes advantage of your trust and willingness to help. But it’s important to take steps to limit damage and make sure the scam is reported
  • Discontinue contact with the criminal and cease any requested activities.
  • Report the activity to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, your local FBI field office, or both. Contact IC3. Local FBI field offices can be found online.
  • Contact your financial institution immediately upon discovering any fraudulent or suspicious activity and direct them to stop or reverse the transactions.
  • Ask your financial institution to contact the corresponding financial institution where the fraudulent or suspicious transfer was sent.
  • Report the activity to the website where the contact was first initiated.
It can be difficult to say no to someone you trust. But knowing the signs of this scam and how to react can save you a lot of heartbreak

Investments Retirement

What kind of role can a financial professional play for an investor? The answer: a very important one. While the value of such a relationship is hard to quantify, the intangible benefits may be significant and long lasting.

A good financial professional can help an investor interpret today’s financial climate, define goals, and assess progress toward those goals. Alone, an investor may be challenged to do any of this effectively. Moreover, an uncounseled investor may make self-defeating decisions.

Some investors never turn to a financial professional. They concede that there might be some value in maintaining such a relationship, but they ultimately decide to go it alone. That may be a mistake.
 
No investor is infallible. Investors can feel that way during a great market year, when every decision seems to work out well. In long bull markets, investors risk becoming overconfident. The big-picture narrative of Wall Street can be forgotten, along with the reality that the market has occasional bad years.

This is when irrational exuberance can creep in. A sudden market shock may lead an investor into other irrational behaviors. Perhaps stocks sink rapidly, and an investor realizes (too late) that a portfolio is over weighted in equities. Or, perhaps an investor panics during a correction, selling low only to buy high after the market rebounds.
 
Often, investors grow impatient and try to time the market. Poor market timing may explain this divergence, according to financial research firm DALBAR.

In 2018, the average equity fund investor lost twice as much as the S&P 500. In January of 2019, investors were buyers again for only the 4th month out of the last 20. The average investor bought into an 8% advance in January and managed to outperform the S&P 500 by 0.57%. However, DALBAR, Inc. notes that a pat on the back may not be in order.

“This is a time where the average investor really needs coaching and perspective from a trusted expert. These last 6 to 8 months have been a silent killer of an investor’s portfolio. The average investor may be feeling like they successfully timed the market this time. After all, they sold during the horrible month of December and bought during the recovery of January.” said Cory Clark, Chief Marketing Officer at DALBAR, Inc. “This view can only perpetuate emotional investing and lead to devastating effects. The average investor lost a significant portion of their portfolio value in the second half of 2018 and January’s gains served only as a numbing agent to hide the sting that lies beneath.”

The other risk is that of financial nearsightedness. When an investor flies solo, chasing yield and “making money” too often become the top pursuits. The thinking is short term.

A good financial professional may help a committed investor and retirement saver stay on track. He or she can help the investor set a course for the long term, based on a defined investment policy and target asset allocations with an eye on major financial goals. The client’s best interest is paramount.

As the investor-professional relationship unfolds, the investor may begin to notice the intangible ways the professional provides value. Insight and knowledge inform investment selection and portfolio construction. The professional helps explain the subtleties of investment classes and how potential risk often relates to potential reward. Perhaps most importantly, the professional can help the client get past the “noise” and “buzz” of the financial markets to see what is really important to his or her financial life.
 
This is the value a financial professional helps brings to the table. You cannot quantify it in dollar terms, but you can certainly appreciate it over time.

The Wealth Management Advisors of Kirtland Financial Services value the client relationships above all else. Come meet the team, and experience the difference having a professional can make in your financial planning.

Learn more about Kirtland Financial Services now. 

Your first consultation is FREE. Make your appointment today!

 
This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note - investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment. 

DALBAR’S 2018 Quantitative Analysis of Investor Behavior (QAIB) study examines real investor returns from equity, fixed income and money market mutual funds from January 1984 through December 2018. The study was originally conducted by DALBAR, Inc. in 1994 and was the first to investigate how mutual fund investors’ behavior affects the returns they actually earn. The average equity investor return is measured using equity fund flows. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

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Kirtland Federal Credit  Union and Kirtland Financial Services are no registered brokers/dealers and are not affiliated with LPL Financial. The LPL Financial Registered Representatives associated with this site may only discuss and/or transact securities business with residents of the following states: AZ, CA, CO, FL, IL, NE, NM, OH, OK, PA and TX.
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Citations. 1 - zacksim.com/heres-investors-underperform-market/ [5/22/17]

Banking

Why should you have to stop at a BANK to manage your money?

The world is on the move. And it’s moving fast. Good thing there’s a tool for that! How would Mobile Banking make your life easier?

I NEED TO SPLIT THE CHECK!
Easy peasy! Jump on your Mobile Banking app and use PopMoney to send your portion.

DO I HAVE ENOUGH TO GO OUT THIS WEEKEND?
Let’s check! Get a quick look at your available balances through your Mobile Banking app.

IT’S PAY DAY! I NEED TO MOVE SOME MONEY TO SAVINGS
Transfers are quick and easy in Mobile Banking. You can even transfer money into your accounts at another bank or credit union, if you need to.
 
I’M BROWSING CARS ONLINE, AND I WANT TO APPLY FOR A LOAN. BUT IT’S 10:00 P.M....
No problem! Mobile Banking lets you apply any time, anywhere! And not just for an auto loan. You can apply for any kind of loan through Mobile Banking—even a mortgage. Try not to stay up TOO late. Sleep tight!

THAT STACK OF BILLS ON THE TABLE IS STARING AT ME.
So let’s get them paid! You can do it from the couch with Mobile Banking. You can even set up automatic payments, so next month you can stare right back at those pesky bills.

I REALLY SHOULD START BUDGETING
Life hack: there’s a FREE budgeting tool called Money Management in your Mobile Banking app. Check it out!

Get started with Mobile Banking today! If you know your Online Banking PIN, just download the app on your Apple or Android 
device, open it up, and tap “Sign Up”. No PIN? Just give us a call and we’ll help you get started. It’s safe, secure, and free!

SEE ALL BANKING SERVICES
 
Fees may be associated with various member banking services. See the fee schedule for complete details. Data charges by your mobile device provider may apply and are the responsibility of the device owner. Mobile Banking is compatible with iOS 9.0 and Android 4.3 or later, and is available for download from the App Store (iPhone), App Store (iPad) and Google Play Store (Android). All transfers are subject to daily and monthly transfer limits.

 

Security Fraud

How much of your life is on your phone? If you’re like many Americans nowadays, the answer is, “Most of it!”.

It’s more than texts and games; our phones give us access to our financial accounts, social media pages, personal and work e-mails, photos, music, credit and debit card information, and more. And it’s all locked away by nothing more than a few digits you type to unlock your phone.

Thanks to the ease of password storage and “Remember Me” boxes, access to the most important aspects of our lives is easy and convenient. But what if your phone was no longer in your control? What if, one day, your service dropped without explanation and your social media, e-mail and even financial accounts were suddenly out of your control. This isn’t a doomsday scenario—it’s called the SIM-Swap Attack, and it’s ruining lives.

HOW IT WORKS

The SIM-Swap Attack is named for the small chip inside your phone that is tied to your phone number—your SIM card. SIM cards make it easy to transport phone numbers (as you would do when you upgrade your device). But this transportability is being exploited.

This cell phone hack delivers gold for a thief who is able to pull it off. He approaches your carrier (T-Mobile, Sprint, etc.) with a few pieces of your personal information and convinces an employee to transfer your phone number to his own device (a port). Once the transfer happens, he uses his newly activated device to break into your connected accounts—social media, e-mail, banking, and more. He changes the logins for the accounts to lock you out and then goes through his newly-won treasure trove in search of things of value (like your Paypal or financial accounts).

The features you use to make logging into these connected accounts a breeze form a paper-thin barrier between a thief and your information. And regaining access to your e-mail and social media accounts may prove impossible. At the very least, the paperwork and hoops may seem unending.
 
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO LIMIT YOUR RISK?

Practice fraud prevention
Keeping your personal information secure is essential. Without those pieces of personal information—such as your birth date, social security number, and address—a thief has little ability to initiate a port of your phone number. 

PIN it
Every cell carrier offers the option to put a PIN on your account: a secret passphrase the carrier will request anytime a request is made to make changes to your account or activate a new phone. Ask your carrier how to set a PIN on your account – and be sure not to use the same PIN that unlocks your phone.

Don’t save passwords
It’s tempting to have your phone save your login information so you don’t have to enter it each time you open an app. But doing so removes the strongest lock you have against an intruder. And once inside an app, a thief can change your passwords and then the one who is locked out is YOU. Using a quality PAID password manager makes this simple. Why is paid important? Because if you’re not paying for a service, it’s because YOUR INFORMATION is their product. Keepass or Dashlane are reputable options that can really simplify managing passwords.

Don’t rely on normal two-factor authentication
Most two-factor authentication is performed via SMS (texting). But this isn’t a barrier for a thief who already has full control of your phone number. DO use two-factor authentication (it does help!), but make sure that the authentications come to an e-mail account or phone number that is not associated with your phone. Or, use an authentication app instead. Google Authenticator (available in your app store) and Authy offer an extra layer of security by tying the two-factor authentication to your physical device rather than to your phone number. There are also physical authentication methods like Yubikey—literally a key that you plug into the USB port or touch to your phone to verify your identity.

Monitor your accounts frequently
If you notice unusual activity on your phone or your accounts, follow up. Catching the theft early may not prevent damage, but the longer a thief is in control, the more damage he can do.

Remember that convenient for you equals convenient to the people who want your assets, too. Don’t be an easy target!

Security Fraud

You’re searching for a new job when you come across a posting on social media that seems perfect! All you have to do is front the money for training and supplies. Is it legit? Probably not!

Jobs that seem too good to be true usually are. But how can you tell the difference between a legitimate job posting and a bait posting? Location of the posting may not matter since scammers advertise jobs where legitimate employers do — online, in newspapers, and even on TV and radio. Here are three ways to tell whether a job lead may be a scam:
  1. You need to pay to get the job - They may say they’ve got a job waiting or guarantee to place you in a position. You just need to pay a fee for certification, training materials, or their expenses placing you with a company. But after you pay, the job doesn’t materialize. Employers and employment firms shouldn’t ask you to pay for the promise of a job.
  2. You need to supply your credit card or bank account information - Don't give out your credit card or bank account information over the phone to ANY company unless you're familiar with them and have agreed to pay for something. Anyone who has your account information can use it. And legitimate companies won’t ask for this information from a job prospect.
  3. The ad is for "previously undisclosed" federal government jobs - Information about available federal jobs is free. And all federal positions are announced to the public on usajobs.gov. Don’t believe anyone who promises you a federal or postal job.
Still not sure if you’re looking at a legitimate job offer? Check for complaints!

Your local consumer protection agencystate Attorney General's Office, and the Better Business Bureau can tell you whether any complaints have been filed about a company. Just keep in mind that a lack of complaints doesn’t mean the business is on the up-and-up. You may want to do an internet search with the name of the company and words like review, scam, or complaint. Look through several pages of search results. And check out articles about the company in newspapers, magazines, or online, as well.

SEARCH IN THE RIGHT PLACES

You’ve read the many resume and interview tips from respected sources available for free online and scoured online job boards and newspaper classifieds. Some other places to look for leads in your job search include:
  • CareerOneStop - Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, CareerOneStop lists hundreds of thousands of jobs. It also links to employment and training programs in each state, including programs for people with disabilities, minorities, older workers, veterans, welfare recipients, and young people. For federal jobs, all open federal positions are announced to the public on usajobs.gov.
  • State and county offices - Your state’s Department of Labor may have job listings or be able to point you to local job offices that offer counseling and referrals. Local and county human resources offices provide some placement assistance, too. They can give you the names of other groups that may be helpful, such as labor unions or federally-funded vocational programs.
  • College career service offices - Whether it’s a four-year university or community college, see what help yours can offer. If you’re not a current or former student, some still may let you look at their job listings.
If you’ve been targeted by a job scam, file a complaint with the FTC.

For problems with an employment-service firm, contact the appropriate state licensing board (if these firms must be licensed in your state), your state Attorney General, and your local consumer protection agency.

To learn about credit and background checks when you’re looking for a job, read What to Know When You Look For a Job.

And remember: if it sounds too good to be true? It probably is. Happy (job) hunting!

Security Fraud

Have you received a phishing e-mail? Odds are, you have!
 
Phishing e-mails are e-mails built to look like an official e-mail from an official company. Are you sure that e-mail from UPS is actually from UPS? (Or Costco, BestBuy, or another of the myriad unsolicited emails you receive every day?) Companies and individuals are often targeted by cyber criminals via e-mails designed to look like they came from a legitimate bank, government agency, social networking site, or organization.

Like this one, designed to look like an alert from Netflix:



These fake e-mails often tell a story to trick you into clicking on a link or opening an attachment. These stories are designed to create a sense of urgency or may dangle some other type of bait.



These fake e-mails often tell a story to trick you into clicking on a link or opening an attachment. These stories are designed to create a sense of urgency or may dangle some other type of bait.

Once you’ve clicked—taken the “bait”—the scammer may continue the attack by asking you to enter personal or account information, providing a login screen that captures your login information, or by launching/downloading a virus or malware to your device or computer.

HOW TO SPOT A PHISH
So, how can you tell if an e-mail is legitimate? It can be difficult to tell; a good phishing e-mail will use a name and logo you already trust. But phishing e-mails also:
  • Use generic greetings. Examples include “Dear Netflix Customer” or “Hi” with no personalization. In the Netflix example, the generic greeting is simply “Dear”. If you do business with Netflix, odds are that any e-mail regarding your account will have your name on it.
  • Impart a sense of urgency. They may tell you that your account is on hold or suspended until you update account information.
  • Offers links or asks you to click in the e-mail to proceed.
  • Have improper grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Not all phishing e-mails have formatting and grammar issues, but many do. If you spot an issue, you should be very suspicious.
  • May be from a company with whom you have no business. This may be the biggest red flag of all. If you don’t have an account with Netflix, you should never receive e-mail from them.
  • May have a domain that doesn’t match the official company address. Instead of @Netflix.com, the domain may look like @NetflixCustomers.net or some similar play on the company name.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF
Already clicked on an e-mail like this? It happens! The goal now is to mitigate your risk. If you have clicked on a suspected phishing e-mail and think the scammer has your personal information, visit IdentityTheft.gov to see the specific steps to take based on the information you lost. If you think you clicked on a link or opened an attachment that downloaded harmful software, update your computer’s security software and then run a security scan.


Remember, a legitimate business will never request sensitive information via e-mail. If you’re suspicious, follow up with the company yourself, outside of the suspicious e-mail. 

 

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