Posts Tagged 'ID theft'

ScamWatch: Beware fraud calls from FDIC

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the insurance body for banks (like the NCUA for credit unions) warns that some people are getting suspicious calls from the organization:

To date, the callers have alleged that the call recipient is delinquent in payment of a loan that was applied for over the Internet or made through a payday lender. The loan may or may not actually exist. The caller attempts to authenticate the claim by providing sensitive personal information, such as name, Social Security number, and date of birth, supposedly taken from the loan application. The recipient is then strongly urged to make a payment over the phone to “avoid a lawsuit and possible arrest.” In some instances, the caller is said to sound aggressive and threatening.

These calls are fakes from scam artists trying to get your personal information.

The FDIC deals with insuring savings accounts, not on collections matters. No matter how threatening the phone calls, don’t give information from people who call and ask for it. Be sure to keep an eye on your accounts for suspicious activity, and contact the credit reporting agencies to put a fraud alert on your account if you feel threatened.

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Free shredding day scheduled

Good news: we scheduled a free community shredding day for Saturday, Oct. 23 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at our Home Office. Bring as many shred-able items as you can bring, Shred-It says.

We’ve received tons of requests for another community shredding day since our last one back in November 2008. The shredding company we tried that time, Northwest Refuse, had their shredding machine break down and they had no plans to replace it. That left us searching for another company – so we stuck with the original.

American 1 tries hard to protect our members from identity theft. A big part of that is education, and we consider our shredding days another part. You can’t get things stolen if they’re mixed in with a billion other tiny scraps of paper.

UPDATE: We’re giving away a shredder! Stop inside the Home Office for treats and identity theft information, and enter to win a cross-cut paper shredder.

12 fraud prevention tips

Our friends at Allied Solutions passed along 12 helpful tips to protect your personal account information, especially your checking account.

“Allied Solutions has seen an increase in losses involving stolen member checks and misused personal information that has allowed criminals to cause those individuals a loss in their accounts at credit unions,” Marie Burgoyne wrote us. “Common-sense and a logical approach with the way an individual uses and stores checks can help reduce the risk of this type of loss.”

Keep these tips in mind:

  1. Keep your account information confidential and never provide your account number or personal information to unknown persons. Be particularly cautious of unsolicited phone sales.
  2. Reconcile your bank statement as soon as possible after receipt (within 20 days) to detect any irregularities. Delays may subject you to liability for any losses due to check fraud.
  3. Protect your checks – Store your checkbook, blank checks, deposit slips and bank statements in a secure location.
  4. Don’t leave blank spaces on the payee or payment amount lines on your checks.
  5. Monitor check orders to ensure they are received timely and immediately verify that all checks were received with the order.
  6. Mail bill payments through the Post Office and not from your mail box at home. Seeing the upright red flag on your home mail box is a favorite signal for criminals to look in the box and steal whatever is there.
  7. Do not add personal information on your check (Social Security #, Driver’s License # or DOB).
  8. Destroy (shred) cancelled checks (if received), account statements and deposit tickets unless needed for tax purposes.
  9. Use your own pre-printed deposit slips and make sure the account number on your slip is correct. Thieves have made attempts to alter deposit slips at drive-up windows in the hope that bank representatives will not notice with the result that the funds are deposited into the thief’s account.
  10. Don’t ever make a check payable to cash and also, never endorse a check until you are ready to cash the item or make the deposit. If lost or stolen, a check made payable to cash may be legally and rightfully cashed by anyone.
  11. If someone pays you with a cashier’s check, be cautious and if possible, have them accompany you to the bank to cash the item. If you need to accept a check for payment, do so during normal business hours so you can verify with the financial institution that it is legitimate. Make sure you obtain identification information from the individual.
  12. If your home is burglarized, determine if any checks have been stolen. Look closely because thieves will take checks from the back or middle of your check book to avoid immediate detection.

Read more identity theft tips in our ScamWatch category.

ScamWatch: Beware of fake Charter One verification sites

Fake Charter One e-mail

Head’s up: an American 1 employee received the above phishing e-mail (click for a larger view) that sent her to the this web site:

Fraud phishing site

Take note that the web site asks for all the information on a debit card, including:

  • debit card number
  • card expiration date
  • card verification number (the three numbers on the back)
  • AND THE PIN!

This should send up a big red flag for anyone who receives a similar e-mail. Your financial institution will never (NEVER!) ask for your PIN via e-mail, and will never ask for all the information on your card.

Why? They have it already.

Luckily, our staff member was wise enough to recognize this as a phishing attempt. Let this be a lesson: just because something looks and sounds legit doesn’t mean it’s so.

If you ever receive an e-mail like the one above, let us know!

American 1’s response to the Heartland data breach

[Update: After careful consideration and account monitoring, we have decided that, for now, a mass reissue of the compromised cards is not necessary. We compare any claims of fraud against the compromised card list on a daily basis and will continue to do so. There has been no increased fraud claims since this compromise came to light. If you would like to know if your card number is on the compromised list, please give us a call or e-mail and we will be happy to check for you. If your card is on the list, and you would like to have your card replaced, we will do so for you.]

The Jackson Citizen Patriot posted an article about two local credit unions that were affected by the data breach, and we’ve had many members ask us if American 1 has been affected.

First, some background: Heartland Payment Systems, a company that helps businesses process debit and credit card transactions, was hit by malicious hackers. The hack put millions of credit card customers at risk in what may be the biggest data breach ever.

Heartland handles data from credit card merchants. So say you pay for a fill-up at a gas station with your American 1 Visa. That data gets sent to Heartland, who parses the info for Visa, and sends the payment back to the gas station. In effect, this data breach isn’t the fault of you, the gas station, or even Visa. It goes back to Heartland. And because it stems from a processor, and Heartland deals with upwards of 200,000 merchants (like gas stations), the breach may affect lots of people.

Heartland has taken responsibility for the breach, and offers tips to consumers who may be affected. Robert Carr, Heatland’s chairman/CEO, puts it this way:

As a cardholder, you will not be held financially responsible for any unauthorized transactions that are timely reported to your card issuer. You should regularly monitor your card and bank statements and report all suspicious activity to your card issuer (in the case of Visa and MasterCard cardholders, that would be the bank that issued the card, not the card brand).

Heartland says they’ve closed the security hole, but they still haven’t reported how many people may be affected.

Here at American 1, we are monitoring our members’ accounts closely to safeguard against any fraudulent activity. We won’t block anyone’s cards, meaning you can continue to use your American 1 Visa and debit cards as normal, and – if something does happen – you are not liable for any fradulent charges.

If we do find something suspicious, we will contact you directly. American 1 has dedicated employees that handle all our card transactions. If you have a problem with your American 1 Visa or MasterCard debit card, you will talk to a real, live person at our branch.

We’ll offer a tip: sign up for home banking to keep a close eye on your accounts. If you do spot something suspicious, please let us know. You can direct your questions to a Member Services Specialist at any branch location.

Receive a text message? It’s a scam

We’ve had several members tell us that they have received text messages, supposedly from a local bank, asking for personal information.

As always, ignore these text messages – or report them to the police. Our security officers says “the text messages are a scam and [members] should not call the number that the text is prompting them to call.”

Keep in mind: never give personal information to someone that calls you and asks for it. When you call our branch, we’ll ask you confirmation questions just to make sure it’s you. That’s for your security. But when someone calls or texts and asks for your information, don’t give it to them. When we call, we already have your information.


ScamWatch: beware fraud text messages



We recently received word from another credit union that members are receiving fraud text messages citing “unusual account activity.” These text messages provided an 800 number, where members were asked to verify three pieces of information linked to their account to “restore their credit or debit card.” And then it asks them to enter their 16-digit credit or debit card number.

Folks, this is a scam. Credit unions will not alert you via text message when something is wrong with your account. If you ever receive something like this, be sure to double-check the given phone number against our own: (888) 213-2848 or (517) 787-6510. And please, don’t ever enter your credit or debit card number to just anyone. Check and double-check each request for financial information. It could save you a bundle.