Helping protect your identity and personal information is extremely important, and scammers today are finding more ways than ever to obtain this information. Being informed about the tactics scammers use is a great way to help protect yourself from identity fraud and keep your personal information from getting into the wrong hands.
“Phishing” (pronounced “fishing”) occurs when criminals are “fishing” for your personal financial information. What they want are account numbers, passwords, Social Security numbers, and other confidential information that they can use to loot your checking account or run up bills on your credit cards.
The most common phish is an e-mail threatening dire consequences if you do not immediately log in and take action. However, scammers could also contact you by telephone or send a text message.
Fraudulent Telephone Calls
We have received reports that some people have received telephone calls that appear to be from Lake Michigan Credit Union but which are, in fact, fraudulent calls. Lake Michigan Credit Union does not solicit personal information over the telephone. Please be very cautious about giving personal information over the phone.
Fraudulent emails are a common tool for identity theft. They can take many forms, but are usually harsh, demanding and scary. They may solicit you to enter personal or account information. Below are some email safety tips that will help protect you from falling victim to an email scam.
Email Safety Tips
- Be careful with email. Never click on unverified links in emails, in pop-up ads, or on other unknown sites. These emails and links may ask for personal information or redirect you to illegitimate sites that look legitimate.
- Maintain and run updated virus, firewall, browser, spyware, and security software on your computer. Review your Internet and email software’s security settings.
- Be cautious about opening email attachments from unknown parties or downloading files from unverified locations. Many of these files contain spyware or key-logging programs that can send information back to a malicious site. Beware of using non-encrypted wireless connections with computers, phones, and portable devices to send sensitive information from public wireless locations or even from home wireless networks. Using scanning devices, individuals can intercept unencrypted signals and view or obtain your information.
- Beware of those who may be looking over your shoulder while you use a computer in a public area.
- Use strong passwords. Change passwords periodically. When creating PINs and passwords, do not use birth dates, addresses, phone numbers, etc. that are easily guessed from personal information.
- Never use the “save ID and password” option in your browser at home, or on a laptop or public computer. Do not email personal and financial information to non-secure sites, avoid storing personal information on a laptop computer. Properly dispose of old computers and ensure all sensitive information is removed from the hard drive. Reformatting the hard drive may not be sufficient.
Some common ruses that criminals are currently using to commit identity theft include:
- Foreign Lotteries. You are notified that you have won a lottery or sweepstakes in a foreign country and are asked to send funds back to pay for fees and taxes on the winnings. Do not deposit any checks that are supposed winnings from a lottery or sweepstakes that you don’t remember entering. Take time to research any offers you receive over the internet.
- Craigslist Scams. You are given a check over and above the amount for the item that you are selling and asked to refund the overage from your own account. In addtion, Craigslist scams are also being reported involving job opportunities. The fradulent “employer” may overpay for your services rendered and likewise ask for a refund in the form of a check for the overpaid difference.
- Secret Shopper Scams. Similiar to the Craigslist job opportunity scam, this illegitimate job opportunity requires you secret shop a wire transfer service, such as Western Union, and wire funds as part of the job from your own account to your fraudulent employer.
Identity theft is when thieves steal your personal information in order to take over or open new accounts, file fake tax returns, rent or buy properties, or do other criminal things in your name.
- Searching your trash
- Stealing your wallet
- Compromised credit or bank information
- Phishing expeditions where they contact you and ask for information claiming to be a trusted 3rd party.
- Malware and virus type of devices that are added to your computer to obtain your information.
The best way to reduce this risk is to deter, detect and defend:
Deter: Safeguard your information
- Shred all important documents before discarding them
- Only give out information to people you know and trust
- Avoid giving personal information such as SSN and credit card information over the phone
- Immediately report lost or stolen cards and fraudulent transactions
- Use the hotel safe to store personal belongings that may contain personal information
- Carry your wallet in your front pocket when in crowded public areas – make sure your purse is closed and held securely
- Never travel with your Social Security card
- Keep a record of all transactions so you can account for them later
- Secure all electronic devices such as your phone, tablet and laptop with a password
- Use common sense. If a vendor or business seems like they are not reputable, do not trust them with your credit card or ID
- Be alert while traveling, tourists especially can be prime targets for identity thieves
- Use strong and well-guarded passwords Keep personal information secure
- Do not click on unknown emails or links while using the internet unless they are from a known source.
Detect: Routinely monitor your statements and transactions
- Be alert to mail or normal bills that do not arrive in the mail
- Beware of any denials of credit
Inspect your credit report annually by requesting one free report: Go to www.annualcreditreport.com or
call (877) 322-8228
- Become a LifeLock Member and they will actively monitor for suspicious activity and provide alerts if they discover your information is being used
Defend: If your identity is stolen
- Place a fraud alert on your credit reports
- Close the accounts you know have been tampered with and information was compromised on
- File a police report
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission
You can minimize the risk of identity theft by following some simple practices:
- Never throw away ATM receipts, credit statements, credit cards, or bank statements; always shred.
- 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.
- Report unauthorized financial transactions to your bank, credit card company and the police as soon as you detect them.
- Keep a list of telephone numbers to call to report the loss or theft of your wallet, credit cards, etc.
- Review a copy of your credit reports (most markets have access to three separate credit reporting agencies) 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 bureaus to print a statement to that effect in your credit report. You should request each credit bureau serving your market area to include the statement.
- 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.
LifeLock® Identity Theft Protection
Take advantage of a special rate for Lake Michigan Credit Union Members with LifeLock, a leader in identity theft protections services. LifeLock® identity theft protection does more than free credit monitoring to help protect your identity in today’s world where so much personal information is exposed. LifeLock uses proprietary technology to detect identity threats† and if you have a problem, will work to resolve it. If you become a victim of identity theft while a LifeLock member, LifeLock will provide the necessary lawyers and experts if needed to help resolve your case.‡ Our collaboration with LifeLock offers our members a special rate with memberships starting at $6.99* a month (plus applicable sales tax).
- Visit any LMCU branch
- Call us at 1-800-242-9790 and ask about LifeLock
- Email us at email@example.com.
What to Do if You Become a Victim
Follow these steps immediately if your purse or wallet has been stolen, your home was burglarized, or you think you may have become a victim of identity theft:
- Call Lake Michigan Credit Union right away at (616) 242-9790 and ask for Member Services.
- If you are a LifeLock member they will provide resolution services – you will be assigned an identity restoration specialist that who is will be ready to help and take charge
Place a “fraud alert” on your credit reports by calling one of the major credit reporting agencies. Contact information is listed below:
- EQUIFAX (800) 525-6285
- EXPERIAN (888) EXPERIAN
- TRANSUNION (800) 680-7289
- Check your credit report every 30 days.
- Monitor your banking, retirement, all credit card and debit card activity for anything suspicious
- Close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened without your approval.
- File a report with your local law enforcement agency, as well as with the Federal Trade Commission by calling (877) IDTHEFT or online at ftc.gov/idtheft.
- Monitor your credit report once a year to check for any inaccuracies or suspicious activity by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com to obtain your free copy.
How to Avoid Card Fraud
- Sign up for eAlerts (text or email) that notify you when your account has been accessed. Log in to home banking, select the “Services” tab and choose “Modify eAlerts”
- Use your debit card as a credit card so you do not have to provide your PIN
- Use your EMV card and the EMV technology whenever possible
- Use ATM’s during high traffic times when the risk is lower
- Shield the entry keypad from prying eyes when entering your PIN
No one can prevent all identity theft.
†LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses.
†††Million Dollar Protection Package benefits are provided by a Master Policy issued by United Specialty Insurance Company, Inc. (State National Insurance Company, Inc. for NY State members). The Master Policy provides coverage for Stolen Funds Reimbursement and Personal Expense Compensation, each with limits of up to $25,000 for Standard members, up to $100,000 for Advantage members and up to $1 million for Ultimate Plus members. If needed, LifeLock will provide lawyers and experts under the Service Guarantee. Please see the policy terms, conditions and exclusions at: LifeLock.com/legal
*Prices listed relect discount.
* Credit card required at enrollment. Offer for new LifeLock members only. Offer is available for LifeLock Standard™, LifeLock Advantage™ and LifeLock Ultimate Plus™ memberships only. Not combinable with other offers.
Symantec, the Symantec Logo, the Checkmark Logo, LifeLock, the LockMan Logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Symantec Corporation or its affiliates in the U.S. and other countries. Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners.