Protecting Your Identity, Your Privacy, and Your Money
Protect yourself. The following information has been prepared to protect you from the many types of financial fraud and identity theft. Be sure to review all of the tabs below to better understand the threats and how to combat them.
Holiday Fraud Prevention. Click here to view imporant holiday prevention tips to help you stay safe while shopping this holiday season.
The 2017 Identity Fraud Study, released by Javelin Strategy & Research, found that $16 billion was stolen from 15.4 million U.S. consumers in 2016, compared with $15.3 billion and 13.1 million victims a year earlier. In the past six years identity thieves have stolen over $107 billion.
Report Fraud to People's Community Federal Credit Union Immediately. If you think you may have been a victim of fraud contact us immediately at 800-252-6525.
ATM Skimming Devices Hit the Pacific Northwest
While ATM skimming is not a new threat to financial institutions, it appears that Oregon is being targeted right now. There have been several reported incidents involving skimming devices found on ATMs up and down the I-5 corridor in Oregon. While it is unknown which direction the fraudsters are moving, it is a possibility that Washington credit unions may have been targeted as well.
A skimming device fits over the ATM's card reader. Hidden cameras or wandering eyes take down your pin. Here's what to look out for when using an ATM:
β’A skimmer is often times no bigger than a deck of cards and blends right in with ATM, looking like a piece of plastic that belongs on the machine. Make sure your ATM doesn't have wires hanging from it, or look like its been tampered with -- before you go to use it.
β’Police say you should make sure the slot to read your card is the same color as the rest of the machine and look for any nuts or bolts out of place.
β’A card might not go into the ATM smoothly, or there may be something added to the machine. In that case, don't use the card and notify the bank right away.
Here are some things you can do if you've been impacted by skimmers or if you're concerned:
β’Change your PIN at one of our 4 branch ATM's or at our Hazel Dell location
β’Review your account and report suspicious actively
β’When entering your PIN, make sure you use your hand to cover, it so that it can not be seen.
β’If you see unauthorized activity on your account, contact us immediately.
If you find any fraudulent activity on your account, please contact us immediately by calling 800-252-6525 or coming into any one of our 4 locations.
Below is an example of what an ATM skimmer may look like. The one on the right has the skimmer in place over the card reading slot.
Identity theft can occur when an individual obtains personal information, such as your social security number, date of birth, address, and financial account numbers. Once this information is obtained, the thieves will assume or take on your identity, allowing them to illegally purchase items or obtain credit.
Protect yourself. Don't become identity theft's next victim
Peopleβs has partnered with IDnotify to bring you the best in identity theft protection. Click here for more information.
ID Theft Information
Learn more about protecting yourself from identity theft.
Identify Theft Resources
Credit Bureau Contact Details
- Free Annual Credit Report
800-525-6285 (Fraud Hotline)
www.equifax.com 800-685-1111 (Order a Report)
888-397-3742 (Fraud Hotline)
www.experian.com 888-397-3742 (Order a Report)
800-680-7289 (Fraud Hotline)
www.transunion.com 800-916-8800 (Order a Report)
Credit bureaus must provide free copies of credit reports to victims of identity theft.
ATM fraud can occur when individuals lose their card, give their card to someone else to use, or when their Personal Identification Number's confidentiality is compromised. By following these simple guidelines you can greatly reduce your exposure to ATM fraud.
Tips for protecting yourself against ATM fraud
- Never write your Personal Identification Number (PIN) on your card or in your wallet. Memorize your PIN as soon as possible. Do not reveal your PIN to anyone not authorized to use the account.
- Never use your date of birth, social security number, license number or street address as a PIN -- those are the first numbers a crook will try.
- Don't throw away your ATM receipts at the ATM location. Keep them to reconcile your account, then dispose of them properly when you get home.
- Always be aware of your surroundings when using the ATM. If it is late at night, try to use a machine that is well lit and avoid dark, remote locations.
- Always make sure to retrieve your ATM card from the machine when the transaction is complete.
- Be aware of the person behind you. Make sure no one can see you entering your PIN or how much money you withdraw.
- Review your statement promptly to ensure all transactions are accurate. Report any discrepancies immediately.
- Destroy old ATM cards immediately after receiving your replacement cards.
In addition to the types of ATM fraud that most of us are now aware of, there are two new types of fraud that can clean out your account quickly -- card withholding and skimming.
Card withholding occurs when your card gets stuck in the ATM, you can't get it out, and you leave the card in the ATM planning to contact the financial institution the next morning. When you call you find that the card was not stuck in the ATM. What happens is that thieves put a substance into the ATM card slot which will cause your card to stick inside the ATM. They leave the ATM and wait for someone to attempt to use it. They then get in line behind you and try to watch you enter your Personal Identification Number (PIN). This is very common at drive-up ATMs where the user may not be paying attention to other people or cars nearby.
The thieves even go so far as to put up a sign on the ATM stating: "If your card gets stuck, enter your PIN three separate times to retrieve it." This gives them three tries to watch you enter your PIN. After you leave frustrated, and you're planning to contact the ATM owner the next morning, they remove your card with a pair of pliers. They can then use your card at other ATMs and Point-of-Sale (POS) terminals.
Skimming is done at businesses that offer Point-of-Sale (POS) devices for you to pay with your ATM card, such as gas stations. The thieves convince an employee to allow them to connect a lap top computer to the POS machine. The lap top is usually stored under the counter where the POS device is located. When you swipe your card in the POS device to make a payment the information on the magnetic strip on your ATM card is copied and loaded onto a disk. Thieves may also install a hidden video camera that records you entering your PIN. They then match the magnetic information to the PIN and access your accounts.
- Before inserting your ATM card into an ATM inspect the card slot for any residue.
- If there is residue, don't use that ATM. If there is a notice on the ATM about entering your PIN several times, don't use that ATM.
- Always cover your hand when entering your PIN: if the thieves don't have your PIN, they can't access your account.
Actions for Fraud Victims
If you suspect fraud, it is important to act quickly to minimize potential damage and your own liability. It is important to keep a detailed account of conversations you have with authorities and financial institutions.
Credit Bureaus. Immediately call the fraud units of the three credit reporting companies -- Experian, Equifax and Trans Union. Ask that your account include a statement referencing the possibility of fraud.
Creditors. Contact all creditors immediately with whom your name has been used fraudulently -- by phone and in writing. Monitor your accounts closely for any further fraudulent activity.
Law Enforcement. Report the crime to police with jurisdiction in your case. Provide any documentation that you have collected. Get a copy of your police report. Keep the phone number of your fraud investigator handy and give it to creditors and others who require verification of your case.
Financial Institutions. If you have checks stolen or bank accounts set up fraudulently, contact the institution to report the crime. Put stop payments on appropriate outstanding checks. Close your checking and savings accounts and open new accounts. If your ATM card is stolen or compromised, get a new card and PIN. When choosing a PIN, don't use common numbers like the last four digits of your Social Security number, your date of birth, license number or street address.
U.S. Postal Service. Notify the local Postal Inspector if you suspect an identity thief has filed a change of your address with the post office or has used the mail to commit credit or bank fraud.
Social Security Administration. Call to report fraudulent use of your Social Security number.
Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Call to see if another license was issued in your name. Go to your local DMV to request a new number. Also, fill out the DMV's complaint form to begin the fraud investigation process. Send supporting documents with the completed form to the nearest DMV investigation office. Request a driver's license number different than your Social Security number if available in your state.
Civil Courts. If a civil judgment has been entered in your name for actions taken by your impostor, contact the court where the judgment was entered and report that you are a victim of identity theft. If you are wrongfully prosecuted for criminal charges, contact the state Department of Justice and the FBI.
|Back to Top|
Check Cashing Fraud
This guide provides tips for protecting yourself against check cashing fraud. Check cashing fraud occurs when individuals use information taken from your checks, or the checks themselves, to access your accounts and commit fraudulent acts. By following these simple guidelines you can greatly reduce your risk of becoming a victim.
Tips for protecting yourself against check cashing fraud
- Always safeguard your checks. Do not leave your checks out in an open area. Never leave your checks in your car or out on your desk at the office.
- Keep your blank checks and canceled checks in a safe place. Put them in a vault or other secure location. Destroy old blank checks if you are not going to use them.
- Limit the amount of personal information printed on the checks to your name and address. Don't use information that could compromise your identity such as your driver's license number, social security number, and/or secret codes.
- Don't leave your bill payments sitting in an unlocked mailbox for pickup. Many credit thieves will steal bills from rural mailboxes at the end of driveways so they can get your account information, checking information, and even your checks. Go to the Post Office directly or use a curbside USPS mailbox (the blue metal ones) and drop your bills in the slot rather than using less secure street mailboxes.
- Be discreet when writing checks in public places. Write your checks carefully and leave no space in which figures or words can be inserted.
- When you make an error in writing a check, be sure to destroy the check or write "canceled" across it and store it with your other canceled checks.
- If your checks are lost or stolen, report it immediately to your financial institution.
- Reconcile your monthly statements as soon as you can to ensure all transactions are accurate. Contact us immediately if you do not receive it when expected. Be sure to contact your institution within that time frame to ensure that proper attention is given to reconciling the problem.
- When you reorder checks, mark your calendar. If you don't receive your checks within 15 working days, contact your financial institution immediately to inquire as to the status of the order.
- Consider alternatives to check writing. For instance, paying by phone, online, billpay or setting up automatic payments. Fewer checks mean fewer theft opportunities.
Debit and Credit Card Fraud
Debit and credit card fraud generally occurs when cards or card numbers are compromised. By following these simple guidelines your potential for loss can be minimized.
Tips for protecting yourself against card fraud
- Keep a list of all your cards including the account number and phone number to the issuing company.
- Review your card statement as soon as possible. Match charges with your receipts to ensure all charges are yours and are for the correct amount.
- Always sign a new card immediately.
- When making a purchase with a card, make sure you get the card back and the receipt. Check the receipt for accuracy.
- When using a card at a restaurant or store, make sure that all blank lines are marked through so that no one can change the final amount.
- Never sign blank card receipts.
- Only travel with the cards you plan on using.
- Never give the account number of the card over the phone unless you initiate the call.
- When making an order over the telephone, try to avoid using a cordless phone. Cordless phones messages can be easily intercepted by devices as unsophisticated as baby monitors and police scanners.
- Do not write the PIN for the account on the card.
Visa also has some tips and information on security and fraud prevention located here
Phishing can take place through different mediums and the most common threat is through emails. Criminals send out phishing emails that look exactly like what comes from a legitimate company (your credit card company, credit union, government agency or any other service or business) in an effort to deceive you into divulging your personal or financial information. Some phishing emails also link to viruses or malware that will compromise your computer and result in all of your information being available to the criminals or even destroyed. Phishing emails often urge you to act quickly or else something bad will happen. For example, a criminal could send you an email that looks like itβs coming from a company youβve just purchased a product from. You receive the product and then the "company" sends you an email saying they never received your payment and are taking you to court unless you give them your credit card information so they can process the transaction. It is very important to be cautious when dealing with emails. It is often the easiest and most successful way criminals steal your information.
Protect yourself against "Phishing Scams"
- If you are ever in doubt about the legitimacy of an email, contact whoever sent it to you directly. If it was a company, look for the contact information online. Do not use the contact information in the email.
- Ask yourself why someone would be sending you the email. The email might look real and sound urgent but often times if you take a minute to think it over, the email being sent might not be what it seems. Always ask why and think before you act.
- Never give your personal information via e-mail. People's Community Credit Union will never request personal information via email.
- Never go to any website by clicking a link in an e-mail Always type the website address in the search bar on your browser. It is very easy to "spoof" a link to a website. Also, always make sure the website has "https" in the address bar. "https" means that the website is secure and no one can look in on what you are doing.
- Make sure your computer system has all current patches installed and keep your anti-virus/anti-spyware software up to date. Keeping your system patched and your anti-virus software up to date could be the difference between your information being secure or compromised.
Phone Security - Vishing Scams
Vishing is a scam similar to Phishing, the scam involves sending a spam email or pop-up message telling you that your account has been compromised and will instruct you to call a phone number to verify your account information. An official sounding automated message will ask you to enter your personal financial information such as your 16-digit credit card number. Some of these scams involve a telephone call to the victim directly in which the caller already has your credit card number but asks you to verify the valuable three digit security code.
Protect yourself against "Vishing Scams"
- Never give your personal information over the phone. If you feel a call is suspicious, call the company directly to verify the authenticity of the call.
- Beware of organizations asking for charitable donations. If you want to donate money, contact the organization yourself to make sure that your money is going to the appropriate place.
*Javelin Strategy & Research