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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!

All Posts > Security

Security Fraud

They’re polite. They’re trusting. They’ve spent a lifetime building nest eggs and positioning themselves financially, and many have excellent credit. In other words, seniors represent a very attractive target for scammers and fraud schemes.
  • People who grew up in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s were generally raised to be polite and trusting. Con artists exploit these traits, knowing that it is difficult or impossible for these individuals to say “no” or just hang up the telephone.
  • Older Americans are less likely to report a fraud because they don’t know who to report it to, are too ashamed at having been scammed, or don’t know they have been scammed. Elderly victims may not report crimes, for example, because they are concerned that relatives may think the victims no longer have the mental capacity to take care of their own financial affairs.
  • When an elderly victim does report the crime, they often make poor witnesses. Con artists know the effects of age on memory, and they are counting on elderly victims not being able to supply enough detailed information to investigators. In addition, the victims’ realization that they have been swindled may take weeks—or more likely, months—after contact with the fraudster. This extended time frame makes it even more difficult to remember details from the events.
  • Senior citizens are more interested in and susceptible to products promising increased cognitive function, virility, physical conditioning, anti-cancer properties, and so on. In a country where new cures and vaccinations for old diseases have given every American hope for a long and fruitful life, it is not so unbelievable that the con artists’ products can do what they claim.
Telemarketing Fraud for Seniors

If you are age 60 or older—and especially if you are an older woman living alone—you may be a special target of people who sell bogus products and services by telephone. Telemarketing scams often involve offers of free prizes, low-cost vitamins and health care products, and inexpensive vacations.

Identity theft occurs when someone assumes your identity to perform a fraud or other criminal act. Criminals can get the information they need to assume your identity from a variety of sources, including by stealing your wallet, rifling through your trash, or by compromising your credit or bank information. They may approach you in person, by telephone, or on the Internet and ask you for the information.

The sources of information about you are so numerous that you cannot prevent the theft of your identity. But you can minimize your risk of loss by following a few simple hints.

Tips for Avoiding Identity Theft:
  • Never throw away ATM receipts, credit statements, credit cards, or bank statements in a usable form.
  • Never give your credit card number over the telephone unless you make the call.
  • Reconcile your bank account monthly and notify your bank of discrepancies immediately.
  • Keep a list of telephone numbers to call to report the loss or theft of your wallet, credit cards, etc.
  • Report unauthorized financial transactions to your bank, credit card company, and the police as soon as you detect them.
  • Review a copy of your credit report at least once each year. Notify the credit bureau in writing of any questionable entries and follow through until they are explained or removed.
  • If your identity has been assumed, ask the credit bureau to print a statement to that effect in your credit report.
If you know of anyone who receives mail from credit card companies or banks in the names of others, report it to local or federal law enforcement authorities.

Do you have a question or need help reporting an issue? Give us a call at 1.800.880.5328!

Security Fraud

Few pieces of personal information are as integral to your financial life as your Social Security number (SSN). Required for starting a new job, enrolling in school, opening a bank account, and using credit, your SSN unlocks doors that protect your money and your identity—making it a deliciously attractive target for scammers.

How does the scam work?

Phone scams attempting to gain access to your SSN are plentiful, and their methods are varied. A phone number, which may or may not mimic an actual Social Security Administration phone number, pops up on your phone. When you answer, the caller informs you that your SSN has been compromised or is currently locked as a result of fraudulent activity. They may even threaten your Social Security benefits if you don’t cooperate.
 
No matter the story, the scammer concludes by asking you to confirm your SSN or turn over other identifying information such as your birth date. Many scammers also ask for payment to “unlock” your SSN. 

How do I avoid this scam?

Awareness is key.

The Social Security Administration will NEVER call you requesting personal information of any kind, threaten your benefits, or ask for payments.

NEVER give out your SSN—not even the last four digits—to anyone who contacts you by phone.

ALWAYS be suspicious of a call you did not initiate. If you did initiate a call, as you might to your credit union or credit card company, be aware of your surroundings if asked for information to help identify you.

NEVER make any kind of payment on a call like this. Callers asking for wire transfers or gift cards as payment are also thieves. Requesting these methods of payment is a big red flag.

NEVER trust the caller ID on your phone. It’s shockingly simple to clone a number so the call appears to come from a legitimate Social Security Administration phone number.
If you do receive one of these calls, do not reveal any personal information. Instead, hang up and call the Social Security Administration directly at 1-800-772-1213 to check. 

If you believe you have discovered a scam, contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at www.ftc.gov/complaint.

Do you have a question or need help reporting an issue? Give us a call at 1.800.880.5328!

Security Fraud

April 15 is fast approaching, and millions of Americans are in the final days of preparing their 2018 tax returns for the IRS. Tax time is also prime time for scammers and identity thieves.
 
Their techniques are varied, but scammers have one thing in common—their contact is intended to intimidate and create a sense of urgency in the victim to rectify a potential problem.

Scammers may know a lot about their targets, or nothing at all. Commonly, the caller will demand payment in some form (frequently wire transfers or gift cards) to clear up a tax-related problem, or the scammer will attempt to get the victim to divulge more personal information, including their birth date or Social Security number.
 
Be aware! E-mails and calls from the IRS are a scam intended to steal your identity. The IRS will NEVER call you on the phone or e-mail you about a problem with your taxes—they will always send you a letter in the U.S. mail first.

If you receive an e-mail regarding a problem with your taxes, you can delete it. If you get a phone call about a problem with your taxes, it’s fine to hang up. Don’t trust your caller ID—it’s incredibly easy to clone a phone number to make a call appear that it’s coming from a legitimate IRS agent.

If you’re truly concerned that there could be a problem with your taxes, please don’t call any number referenced the e-mail or the phone call! You can speak to a legitimate IRS agent on the phone by calling the agency's general tax assistance number at 1-800-829-1040.

Hearing impaired individuals can reach a live IRS agent by calling 1-800-829-4059. The IRS number for businesses seeking tax assistance is 1-800-829-4933.

Read more about the latest IRS and tax–related scams at https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-scams-consumer-alerts.

Security Credit Fraud

Do you know your credit score? And what’s the difference between your credit score and your credit report? Taking control of your credit starts with knowing the answer to these questions. 

How do I check my credit score?

Actually, you have more than one credit score! Your credit score is a simplified view of your credit, calculated by each of the three major credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian.

Credit score service sites like CreditKarma.com can show you your score from all three bureaus at the same time. Many of these sites are free to you (funded by advertising) and others may charge a subscription fee. Be sure to read the details before signing up. 

Your credit score can also be found on your detailed credit report from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus.

Your credit score is a good way to quickly gauge your credit worthiness and track improvements. 

Take a look at this chart from Experian.com to see where your credit score would fall. 
 
Credit Score Rating % of People Impact
300-579 Very Poor 17.0% Credit Applicants may be required to pay a fee or deposit, and applicants with this rating may not be approved for credit at all.
580-669 Fair 20.2% Applicants with scores in this range are considered to be subprime borrowers.
670-739 Good 21.5% Only 8% of applicants in this score range are likely to become seriously delinquent in the future.
740-799 Very Good 18.2% Applicants with scores here are likely to receive better than average rates from lenders.
800-850 Exceptional 19.9% Applicants with scores in this range are at the top of the list for the best rates from lenders.

 

What the difference between a credit score and a credit report?

Your credit score is derived from many different aspects of your credit report, the detailed history and culmination of your credit activities. Your report includes open lines of credit, mortgages, auto loans, payment history, bankruptcies, total debt utilization, and other details. 

Monitoring your credit report at least yearly can help you catch fraud and identity theft before it can do significant damage to your credit. See a line of credit that’s unfamiliar? You can contact the company and the credit bureau to protect yourself from further damage. 

You can get a FREE copy of your credit report annually at AnnualCreditReport.com.

Security Fraud

Nigeria, a small country on the coast of Africa, is the source of a scam costing victims millions of dollars.
 
This scam combines the threat of an impersonation fraud scheme with a variation on an advanced fee scheme. Typically, a letter or e-mail is sent to a potential victim. The source of the letter is Nigeria and its contents offer the victim an “opportunity” to share in a large sum of money. All the victim needs to do to claim their portion is help the sender illegally move the money out of Nigeria. Once that task is accomplished, the victim is assured, a percentage of the sum will be sent to them as a reward for the assistance.
 
Payment of taxes, bribes to government officials, and legal fees are often described in great detail with the promise that all expenses will be reimbursed as soon as the funds are spirited out of Nigeria. In actuality, the millions of dollars do not exist, and the victim eventually ends up with nothing but loss. Once the victim stops sending money, the perpetrators have been known to use the personal information and checks that they received to impersonate the victim, draining bank accounts and credit card balances.
 
While such an invitation impresses most law-abiding citizens as a laughable hoax, millions of dollars in losses are caused by these schemes annually. Some victims have been lured to Nigeria, where they have been imprisoned against their will along with losing large sums of money. The Nigerian government is not sympathetic to victims of these schemes, since the victim actually conspires to remove funds from Nigeria in a manner that is contrary to Nigerian law. The schemes themselves violate section 419 of the Nigerian criminal code, hence the label “419 fraud.”

How do you keep from falling victim to this scheme?

Criminals often look for easy targets—those who will respond the letter or e-mail. The easiest way to avoid this scam is to simply not respond to the request. Additionally, you should send the letter or e-mail to the U.S. Secret Service, your local FBI office, or the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. You can also register a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission’s Complaint Assistant.
 
If you know someone who is corresponding in one of these schemes, encourage that person to contact the FBI or U.S. Secret Service as soon as possible. 

Bottom line? Do not ever believe a promise of large sums of money for your cooperation, whether the request originates in Nigeria or elsewhere. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 

Sources: www.FBI.gov
 

Receive a scam letter? Report it!


Security Credit Fraud


Originally posted 2/1/19 - updated

Identity theft and fraud are on the rise. In fact, a study from Javelin Strategy and Research found an estimated record-high 15.4 million people were victims of fraud in 2016—at a staggering cost of around $16 billion. More fall victim every year.

Visa works hard to detect and prevent fraud using a variety of methods. Kirtland FCU also has safeguards in place to prevent unauthorized access to your accounts. But fraud still may occur.

Here are steps YOU can take to prevent and limit fraud.

SET ACCOUNT AND CREDIT CARD ALERTS
A variety of text and e-mail alerts are available to you through your Online Banking account or by giving us a call. The earlier you discover fraud, the faster the thief can be cut off.

SET A CODE WORD
A code word is a special password you will need to give over the phone before any sensitive account information is discussed. This simple line of defense makes sure that no matter what kind of other information a fraudster may possess, he cannot access your accounts over the phone or in person without the word.

Call 1-800-880-5329 or stop by a branch to set up your code word with Kirtland FCU.

DON’T SHARE ACCOUNT INFORMATION
Professional identity thieves aren't the only threat. Fraud is often a crime of opportunity. Don’t give your credit card information or bank account information to anyone who isn’t an authorized signer, even those you may trust. Just like a secret isn’t a secret once someone else knows, once the information is out of your hands, you have no control over where it is shared.
 
USE ONLINE AND MOBILE BANKING
The more in tune you are to your spending, the faster you’ll notice something amiss. Check in with your accounts daily, and alert Kirtland FCU if you notice anything unusual.

DO NOT REUSE PASSWORDS
It’s tempting to set one password for multiple sites: bank login, Netflix, Amazon, credit card account, etc. But, if your password is compromised on one site, every site you’ve used it on is now vulnerable.
 
Instead, choose a different password for each website. Many browsers can also generate and save tough auto-passwords for you (note: do NOT take advantage of this feature on public computers or public Wi-Fi). In addition, consider taking advantage of two-factor authentication wherever it is offered. This type of login will text or e-mail a one-time login to you each time you enter your password, ensuring that your password alone cannot give a thief access.

Bottom line: keeping tabs on your accounts and safeguarding your important information are the biggest keys to preventing or limiting fraud and identity theft.

Stay savvy out there!


Security Fraud


Card skimmers are not the newest method for stealing your credit or debit card information, but with technological advances, they are a very effective one.
 

What is a card skimmer?

Each time you swipe your card (or insert it, if you have an EMV-chip card), your card number and other sensitive information is read in order to complete your transaction. Skimmers are simple—placed directly over the card insertion area, the device takes its own reading of your information as you insert your card.

Sometimes, that information is stored until the thief returns for the device. In more sophisticated skimmers, your information is wirelessly transmitted directly to the thief (much safer for the thief).

Skimmers can be hard to spot: just a piece of small plastic that blends in with the card slot. And because they may not even interfere with your transaction, you’ll have no idea your information was stolen until fraudulent charges begin appearing on your account.

The level of sophistication in skimming devices varies. In additional being able to wirelessly transmit steal data, some skimming scams also involve cameras that can capture your PIN as you enter it, making it even easier to use the stolen information on the card. Even fake keypads have been associated with skimming scams.

How you can protect yourself

Every time you swipe your card or enter your card information, there is a risk of theft and fraud. But by taking a few simple precautions, you can lower your risk of falling victim to this common method of stealing your data.

Choose your location wisely

Location matters. ATMs that are close to or even inside of a bank or credit union are relatively low-risk. Card readers inside stores are also unlikely targets. The amount of foot traffic and opportunity for observation make these locations unattractive to thieves. Pay-at-the-pump gas stations and ATMs in more remote areas are more likely targets.

Protect your PIN

No matter who is around you, be sure to shield your fingers as you enter your PIN on any keypad. Much as you’d use your hand to shade your eyes, covering your entry limits the ability of elicit cameras or other observers to record your PIN entry.

Jiggle, jiggle!
Does anything seem out of place or not right at the card reader? Walk away! Sometimes, card skimmer stick out half an inch, but many are very well designed and very hard to see.

Give the reader a little jiggle before inserting your card; if it’s loose, that’s a big red flag. Do not swipe your card. 

If any piece of the  equipment seems out of place, trust your instincts. It’s easier to avoid the theft than to try to repair the damage later.

Report to your credit union
If anything strange happens, contact your bank or credit union as soon as possible. If an ATM keeps your card or you notice that you’ve used a device with a skimmer, your bank can act quickly to avoid losses. You’re often protected from fraud in your account, but your liability increases as time passes.

Bottom line: be aware of your surroundings and choose your ATMs and card transaction sites carefully. Think like a thief! 


Security Fraud


Recognizing an online dating scam artist

Millions of Americans visit online dating websites every year, hoping to find a companion or even a soul mate. But we want to warn you that criminals use these sites, too, looking to victimize the lonely and vulnerable for fast money through a variety of scams.

These criminals—who also troll social media sites and chat rooms in search of romantic victims—usually claim to be Americans traveling or working abroad. In reality, they often live overseas. Their most common targets are women over 40, who are divorced, widowed, and/or disabled, but every age group and demographic is at risk.

Here’s how the scam usually works. You’re contacted online by someone who appears interested in you. He or she may have a profile you can read or a picture that is e-mailed to you. For weeks, even months, you may chat back and forth with one another, forming a connection. You may even be sent flowers or other gifts. But ultimately, it’s going to happen—your new-found “friend” asks you for money.

Your online “date” may only be interested in your money if he or she:

  • Presses you to leave the dating website you met through and to communicate using personal e-mail or instant messaging;

  • Professes instant feelings of love;

  • Sends you a photograph of himself or herself that looks like something from a glamour magazine;

  • Claims to be from the U.S. and is traveling or working overseas;

  • Makes plans to visit you but is then unable to do so because of a tragic event; or

  • Asks for money for a variety of reasons (travel, medical emergencies, hotel bills, hospitals bills for child or other relative, visas or other official documents, losses from a financial setback or crime victimization).

 
One way to steer clear of these criminals altogether is to stick to online dating websites with nationally known reputations. But even within reputable sites, keep in mind the old adage: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. 


Security Fraud


How this scam works

You’re at the ATM when a stranger pulls up, looking concerned.

“Can you do me a huge favor?” he says. “I don’t have a bank account, but my friend wrote me a check, and I gotta cash it right away. Can you deposit it in your account, and then pull out the money for me?”

What is a good Samaritan to do? You decide to deposit the check at the ATM, then withdraw the amount of the check to give to him. He walks away happy with hundreds of your dollars in his pocket.

The next afternoon, the check bounces. 

You’ve given this thief your own money and may now owe your financial institution fees associated with the bounced check. The thief is long gone. And since you properly withdrew the money, you have little to no recourse to recoup those funds. This increasingly common ATM scam plays on your urge to be helpful and kind, to look out for your fellow neighbor. But depositing checks from strangers is a risky business, even without this suspicious request to convert them into cash.
 
That is because the depositing of any check triggers a hold procedure based on the type and amount of the check; the funds will not be immediately available. At Kirtland FCU, processing occurs nightly for any check deposited before 3:30 p.m. local time. Checks deposited at night will not process until the next business day. By the time this processing occurs and the check bounces, so has the thief.
 
How you can avoid this scam

If a stranger asks you to cash a check for them, the simple answer is, “No.”
 
If this occurs while you’re at an ATM, leave the area immediately and report the incident to the institution that owns the ATM. 

NEVER deposit a check from a someone who don’t know and trust.
 
NEVER immediately withdraw money for such a check.
 
ALWAYS be aware of your surroundings when using an ATM. Thieves like this will be waiting for a potential victim.
 
ALWAYS report suspicious activity at an ATM to its associated financial institution.
 

If you need help or have a question, contact our Member Contact Center at 1-800-880-5328.


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