Fraud Prevention Tips
1. Spot Imposters
Scammers often pretend to be someone you trust, like a government official, a family member, a charity, or a company you do business with. Don’t spend money or give out personal information in response to an unexpected request – whether it comes as a text, a phone call, or an email.
2. Do Online Searches
Type a company or product name into your favorite search engine with words like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.” Or search for a phrase that describes your situation, like “IRS call.” You can even search for phone numbers to see if other people have reported them as scams.
3. Don’t Believe Caller ID
Technology makes it easy for scammers to fake caller ID information, so the name and number you see aren’t always real. If someone calls asking for money or personal information, hang up. If you think the caller might be telling the truth, call back to a number you know is genuine.
4. Don’t Pay Upfront for a Promise
Someone might ask you to pay in advance for things like debt relief, credit and loan offers, mortgage assistance, or a job. They might even say you’ve won a prize, but first you have to pay taxes or fees. If you do, they will probably take the money and disappear.
5. Consider How You Pay
Credit cards have significant fraud protection built in, but some payment methods don’t. Wiring money through services like Western Union or MoneyGram is risky because it’s nearly impossible to get your money back. That’s also true for reloadable cards (like MoneyPak or Reloadit) and gift cards (like iTunes or Google Play). Government offices and honest companies won’t require you to use these payment methods.
6. Talk to Someone
Before you give up your money or personal information, talk to someone you trust. Con artists want you to make decisions in a hurry. They might even threaten you. Slow down, check out the story, do an online search, consult an expert, tell a friend, or call the Credit Union.
7. Hang Up on Robocalls
If you answer the phone and hear a recorded sales pitch, hang up and report it to the FTC. These calls are illegal, and often the products are bogus. Don’t press 1 to speak to a person or to be taken off the list. That could lead to more calls.
8. Be Skeptical About Free Trial Offers
Some companies use free trials to sign you up for products and bill you every month until you cancel. Before you agree to a free trial, research the company and read the cancellation policy. And always review your monthly statements for charges you don’t recognize.
9. Don’t Deposit a Check and Wire Money Back
By law, financial institutions must make funds from deposited checks available within days, but uncovering a fake check can take weeks. If a check you deposit turns out to be a fake, you’re responsible for repaying the financial institution.
10. Sign Up for Free Scam Alerts
Get the latest tips and advice about scams sent right to your inbox. Go to ftc.gov/scams.
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. One is easy way is to use the first letter of each work in a phrase that’s easy for you to remember. i.e. To be or not to be, that is the question. 2Bon2BEtitq
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. Remember that $1ngle is NOT a good password. 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 verify it’s really you.
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.
Password Protect Phones
Use a “password” or fingerprints for your phone. The information we have on our phones is too important to not protect it.