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Fraud Prevention Articles and Tips
 
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Jury Duty Scam
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Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft
 
 

"Smishing" Scam Targets Credit Unions via Text Messaging

Credit unions across the country are reporting that their members are receiving unsolicited text messages. It's an attempt at Smishing, the latest form of phishing. In Smishing, an e-mail tries to lure a recipient into giving personal information via SMS, the communications protocol used to send text messages to a wireless device. The recent scam is targeting credit union and other financial institution members.

In smishing, the members receive a text message via cell phone, warning that their account has been closed due to suspicious activity. It then tells them they need to call a certain phone number to reactivate the account.

Unsuspecting callers who dial the number provided in the text message will be taken to an automated voice mail box that prompts them to key in their credit card or debit card number, expiration date, and PIN to verify their information.

If you have been a victim of this scam, take these steps immediately:

Place a fraud alert on your credit reports, ask for a free copy of your credit report, and review those reports for evidence of accounts you didn't open. Fraud unit contacts are:

Equifax 800-525-6285
P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
www.equifax.com

Experian 888-397-3742
P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
www.experian.com

TransUnion 800-680-7289
P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
www.transunion.com

* Close accounts--including share drafts/checks or ATM cards--that have been tampered with or used fraudulently. Contact all financial institutions and lenders, credit card issuers, utility companies, and the Social Security Administration to notify them of the fraud. Follow up each conversation with a letter.

* File a report with law enforcement and insist on getting a copy of the report or the report number.

* File a complaint with the FTC. Visit ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/ for more information or call 877-IDTHEFT.


Mailbox Theft Prevention Tips

The majority of cases of identity theft can be traced back to mail theft. Most people, in this high-tech age, assume that computer or internet intrusion is the main cause of identity theft, but in reality this type of fraud is generally low-tech, and can be tied in to good old fashioned mail theft.

Here are some tips from the United States Postal Service to help protect yourself from this crime:

• Use the letter slots at your post office to mail letters, or give them to a letter carrier.
• Pick up your mail promptly after delivery. Don't leave it in your mailbox overnight.
• Don't send cash in the mail.
• Ask your credit union for "secure" checks that are difficult to alter.
• Tell your post office when you'll be out of town, so they can hold your mail until you return.
• Report all mail theft to a Postal Inspector.

Use the following URL to locate the nearest postal inspection office:
http://www.usps.com/ncsc/locators/find-is.html > or call 1-800-ASK-USPS.


Jury Duty Scam

Here's a new twist scammers are using to commit identity theft: the jury duty scam. Here's how it works:

The scammer calls claiming to work for the local court and claims you've failed to report for jury duty. He tells you that a warrant has been issued for your arrest. The victim will often rightly claim they never received the jury duty notification. The scammer then asks the victim for confidential information for "verification" purposes. Specifically, the scammer asks for the victim's Social Security number, birth date, and sometimes even for credit card numbers and other private information -- exactly what the scammer needs to commit identity theft.

It's easy to see why this works. The victim is clearly caught off guard, and is understandably upset at the prospect of a warrant being issued for his or her arrest. So, the victim is much less likely to be vigilant about protecting their confidential information.

The judicial system does not contact people telephonically and ask for personal information such as your Social Security number, date of birth or credit card numbers. If you receive one of these phone calls, do not provide any personal or confidential information to these individuals.

This is an attempt to steal or to use your identity, and potentially defraud you.

Action: Never give out your Social Security number, credit card numbers or other personal confidential information when you receive a telephone call.

This jury duty scam is the latest in a series of identity theft scams where scammers use the phone to try to get people to reveal their personal confidential information. It doesn't matter why they are calling -- all the reasons are just different variants of the same scam.

Protecting yourself is simple: Never give this info out when you receive a phone call.


Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft

Identity fraud happens when someone steals personal information such as your account number or Social Security number and then uses this information illegally to make withdrawals from your accounts or apply for credit in your name.

Take these precautions to protect your information:

  • Be cautious when providing personal information such as your Social Security number and account or credit card information over the telephone, in person or on the Internet. Don't give out this information unless you are sure with whom you are dealing.
  • Protect your Social Security number and the Social Security numbers of your children and other family members by not carrying them in your wallet.
  • Report lost or stolen checks, credit or debit cards immediately. LeTourneau Federal Credit Union will block payment on the check numbers or account numbers involved.
  • Limit the number of credit card pre-approved offers that you receive by removing your name from the marketing lists of the three credit reporting bureaus. Visit www.optoutprescreen.com or click on the star to remove your name from their lists now.
  • Store cancelled checks, new checks and account statements in a safe place.
  • Notify the credit union of suspicious phone inquiries such as those asking for account information to "verify a statement" or "award a prize."
  • Review your credit report at least once every year. Make sure all information is up-to-date and accurate.
  • Memorize your PIN (Personal Identification Number) and refrain from writing it, your Social Security number or credit card number on a check.
  • Tear up or shred any pre-approved credit offers to which you do not respond. Thieves can use these offers to assume your identity.
  • Keep mail secure. Don't mail bills or sensitive information from your home or unsecured mailboxes. Retrieve and review your mail promptly. Thieves may use the personal information contained in your mail to steal your identity.
  • If you do not receive your regular bills when expected, call the company to find out why.
  • Review your monthly account statements thoroughly. Investigate suspicious items immediately to head off any possible fraud before it occurs.
  • Do not carry your Social Security card, passport or birth certificate unless needed that day.

If you are a member of LeTourneau Federal Credit Union and you think you are victim of fraud, immediately contact us by calling 903-234-3480 so we can flag your account.

 

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