Fraud Prevention Tips
Protect Your Card Number
NEVER give your card number over the phone unless you initiated the call. Unsolicited calls are almost always fraud. If you have any doubt about the call, hang up. The IRS does not call taxpayers and companies you do business with regularly will never ask you to give your card number over the phone.
Keep track of your account and report unauthorized charges to your financial institution immediately.
Scrutinize machines before you swipe. If you see anything unusual attached to the card reader, do not swipe your card. Alert the owner of the machine.
Don’t believe emails from friends or family that state the loved one is “trapped” in a foreign country and needs money. Before withdrawing funds from your account, contact that friend or family member. You’ll likely discover that they are safely at home and that their email got hacked. The typical scam is where someone is visiting the Philippines, Thailand, or elsewhere in the world and has run into trouble with the law, had a wallet stolen, or is in the hospital. They need a lot of money in a hurry and you are their only hope. Don’t fall for it.
ATM Skimming: Protect Yourself
Protect Your Pin
Hidden cameras are often used to steal your PIN. Covering the keyboard as you enter your PIN is a simple way to help avoid theft. Never give your PIN to anyone. And, do not use any ATM with a card reader that appears altered.
Stay Away From Unfamiliar ATMs
The safest ATMs are those with the logo of your credit union and COOP ATM and Shared Branching.
Check Your Balances Frequently
…And if you notice something wrong, use the contact number on the back of your debit card to report any fraudulent withdrawals.
Never Share Your Password
Never give out your password to anyone. Never give it to friends, even if they’re really good friends. A friend can – maybe even accidentally – pass your password along to others or even become an ex-friend and abuse it.
Don’t just use one password. It’s possible that someone working at a site where you use that password could pass it on or use it to break into your accounts at other sites.
Create passwords that are easy to remember but hard for others to guess. When possible, use a phrase such as “I started 7th grade at Lincoln Middle School in 2004” and use the initial of each word like this: “Is7gaLMSi2004.” And make them at least a little different (by adding a couple of unique letters) for each site. On some sites you might even be able to type in the entire phrase.
Long Passwords are Better
Make the password at least 8 characters long. 10 or 12 characters is even better. Longer passwords are harder for thieves to crack.
Capitals and Symbols
Include numbers, capital letters and symbols. Consider using a $ instead of an S or a 1 instead of an L, or including an & or % – but note that $1ngle is NOT a good password. Password thieves are onto this. But Mf$1avng (short for “My friend Sam is a very nice guy) is an excellent password.
Don’t use dictionary words. If it’s in the dictionary, there is a chance someone will guess it. There’s even software that criminals use that can guess words used in dictionaries.
Don’t Post Your Password
Don’t post it in plain sight: This might seem obvious but studies have found that a lot of people post their password on their monitor with a sticky note. Bad idea. If you must write it down, hide the note somewhere where no one can find it.
Consider using a password manager. Programs or Web services like RoboForm (Windows only) or Lastpass (Windows and Mac) let you create a different very strong password for each of your sites. But you only have to remember the one password to access the program or secure site that stores your passwords for you.
Consider using multi-factor authentication. Many services offer an option to verify your identity if someone logs on to your account from an unrecognized device. The typical method is to send a text or other type of message to a mobile device registered to you with a code you need to type in to verity it’s really you. In most cases, you will not be required to use this code when logging on from a known device such as your own computer, tablet or phone.
Don’t fall for “phishing” attacks. Be very careful before clicking on a link (even if it appears to be from a legitimate site) asking you to log in, change your password or provide any other personal information. It might be legit or it might be a “phishing” scam where the information you enter goes to a hacker. When in doubt, log on manually by typing what you know to be the site’s URL into your browser window.
Make sure your devices are secure. The best password in the world might not do you any good if someone is looking over your shoulder while you type or if you forget to logout on a cybercafe computer. Malicious software, including “keyboard loggers” that record all of your keystrokes, has been used to steal passwords and other information. To increase security, make sure you’re using up-to-date anti-malware software and that your operating system is up-to-date.
Use a “password” or fingerprints for your phone too. Most phones can be locked so that the only way to use them is to type in a code, typically a string of numbers or maybe a pattern you draw on the screen. Some new phones allow you to register fingerprints, which are quite secure. Sometimes when people with bad intentions find unlocked phones, they use them to steal the owner’s information, make a lot of calls, or send texts that look like they’re coming from the owner. Someone posing as you could send texts that make it look like you’re bullying or harassing someone in your address book with inappropriate images or words.