Shield Yourself from Swindles
Fraudsters take advantage of innocent consumers daily through checks, ATM, and Internet scams and they’re using the latest technology to pull off their scams. Know the latest trends to protect yourself.
This Internet scam has already claimed one million victims. Phishers send fraudulent e-mails containing authentic looking logos and graphics and ask for financial information. The newest scam is activated when you simply open an e-mail, no clicking required. Once infected, the scammer’s change the IP address in your PC’s Hosts file to their choosing, associates the IP address with financial institution Web sites, and forces your browser to go to fake Web sites.
The Federal Trade Commission recommends the following tips to help you avoid getting hooked:
- If you get a pop-up or e-mail message requesting personal or financial information, don’t reply or click on the link in the message. Legitimate companies won’t ask for this information.
- Be cautious about opening attachments or downloading files from e-mail messages.
- Never send personal information via e-mail. Look for a closed padlock at the bottom of your browser window, or a URL that begins with “https” –the “s” stands for secure. However, some Phishers forge these security icons.
- Review statements for accuracy as you receive them. If they’re late, call the company to confirm billing address and balance.
- Use antivirus software and keep it up-to-date. Run a firewall, particularly if you have a broadband connection. Take advantage of free software “patches.”
- Report suspicious activity to the FTC at www.ftc.gov, and forward suspicious messages to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fraudsters increasingly use e-mail to contact victims, and the most common check scam is the “Nigerian Advance Fee Fraud.” You’re told you’ll be sent a check for an extra sum and you’re asked to wire back the excess money. Scammers purport to be from other countries and claim you can collect on a sweepstakes or pay you to work at home. The realistic-looking checks are forgeries, but victims are responsible for money withdrawn against bad checks.
Skimming is the newest ATM scam. Using a skimmer–a card-swipe device that reads your ATM card–the fraudster uses a blank card to encode information from your ATM card and create a counterfeit. Your PIN is confiscated through a small camera mounted on the ATM. You won’t know you’ve been scammed because your ATM card hasn’t been stolen and still works at other machines.
How to protect yourself?
- Change online banking and shopping account passwords every three to six months. To avoid being led to fraudulent Web sites, retype Web addresses in your browser rather than click through e-mail links.
- Don’t send refunds or deliver goods in the time it takes cashiers’ checks to clear.
- Be on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary at the ATM, such as odd-looking equipment or wires. Monitor accounts regularly for unusual activity.
- Shred all pre-approved credit offers, credit and debit card receipts, insurance forms, financial statements, and other paperwork containing personal and financial information.
- Check credit union statements and other financial statements monthly for discrepancies and order a credit report once a year to make sure no one else is using your personal information to obtain credit cards or services.
- Don’t print your Social Security number on your checks and don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet.
- Be hesitant about giving personal or financial information over the telephone make sure you know the caller and know how the information will be used.
What to do if you have been a victim of fraud?
Even the most tech-savvy people are victims of Phishing attacks. Despite being educated and prepared, you still may be fooled into giving out your personal information. If you’ve been phished, you should assume that you’ll probably become a victim of credit card fraud, bank fraud, or identity theft. The following advice will help you if you’ve given out sensitive information:
Credit, debit, or ATM card information
- Report the theft of this information to the card issuer immediately using the toll-free, 24-hour service number.
- Cancel your account and open a new one.
- Check your statements closely after the attack.
- Call your affected financial institution to report the loss right away.
- Cancel your account and open a new one.
Personal identification information
- Contact the three major credit reporting agencies to receive orientation of what is the process and request they place a fraud alert and a victim’s statement in your file.
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- Contact your financial institution and have it flag your account, so you are notified if there is any unusual activity.
- File a criminal report with your local police.
- Report the theft to the Social Security Administration’s Fraud Hotline.
- Alert the passport office to watch for someone ordering a passport in your name.
If you have been a victim, contact Caribe Federal Credit Union at 787-474-5151 and the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov.