Posts Tagged 'identity 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.

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.

‘Phishy Home’ video from OnGuard

OnGuard Online, the federal government’s hub for identity theft information, has a few fun videos – all with situations you’ve probably seen before.

The above video, called “Phishy Home,” shows what happens when phishers try to grab your personal credit card information. OnGuard provides a list of articles on the different types of identity theft tactics.

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.


One ton of paper shredded at Shredfest



Number of the day:

1,920

That’s the amount of paper, in pounds, that Northwest Refuse shredded at our Shredfest last weekend. Almost one ton of paper securely obliterated.

It was a freezing cold and rainy day that Saturday, but about 50 people stopped by to shred their confidential documents in our Home Office parking lot. Bill and the guys from Northwest deserve a pat on the back for standing out there all day to help people out.

We posted some pictures from the event, and I took some video (above) of how the process works.


Shredder winner Kelly

Plus we held a drawing for a personal shredder. Congratulations to Kelly D. (above), one of our Jackson members, for winning! Kelly brought

Stay tuned for news on whether we’ll hold another Shredfest. In the meantime, Northwest Refuse does this kind of thing during regular businesses hours, so be sure to pay them a visit.

Next shred day set.

Our next free paper shredding day?

Mark your calendar: it’s going to be Saturday, Nov. 15 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

So start collecting your credit card offers, tax forms, personal documents, etc. You bring ’em, we’ll shred ’em!

Northwest Refuse will bring their giant shredding machine to take care of it all, too.

Stay tuned for updates and more information!


ScamWatch: the old cash-and-send-back scam

We recently had a member come in with a check for almost $3,000, along with a letter that said if she cashed the check, put the money into a cashier check, and sent it back, the company would send her a $50,000 “federal grant.”

Now, right away your fraud sense should be tingling. But to this member, that sense was silent.

Sadly, the member had already sent $300 of her own money to this company to get the process started. When an American 1 employee told this member that the deal was most likely a scam, the member disagreed and walked off in a huff. She probably went and tried to get the check cashed at another financial institution to get the “deal” rolling.

Friends, this is definitely a scam. Any agency that sends you a check, asks you to cash it, and send the money back in a cashier check is dealing with fraud. Why would anyone ask you to do something so silly, unless the original check was a fraudulent check?

Yes, these are tought times, and yes, families can use all the help they can get. But this is no time to fall for scams like a free $50,000 “federal grant” that comes out of nowhere.

Be on guard against mailings and e-mails that sound too good to be true. Because…well, you know the rest.


Would you take advantage of another Shred Day?



The last time we had a free shred day, we had a few folks show up to shred and recycle their personal and confidential documents. American 1 believes in shredding personal documents because it helps fight identity theft (thieves can’t steal your identity when it’s in a million pieces, right?), and the company we use even recycles the paper.

Our January shredfest was a hit, but it wasn’t a big hit.

Lately, however, we’ve had quite a few members and non-members call and ask when we’re having another shredding day.

So what do you think – would you come and shred your personal documents? Which day would work best for you? Have you been waiting for American 1 to do another free community shredfest?

Let us know in the comments!


You won $1 million!…and other famous e-mail hoaxes



How many former Nigerian treasury ministers do you have to hear from before you learn that a lottery check isn’t in the mail?

The old Nigerian lottery scam is just one of the e-mail frauds Info World shows us.

The others include the old “cellphones pop popcorn” trick and any offer to send in a fee so the e-mailer can send you back an even bigger prize. Sadly, we get these fake checks all the time at the credit union, and members seem none the wiser. Says Info World:

The saddest part is, the only reason annoying e-mail keeps filing your inbox is because it works. No matter the number of reports detailing e-mail hoaxes gone bad and tales of spammers taking people for all they’re worth, people just keep on clicking.

Why do e-mail scams work? Simple percentages: even if only 0.1% of people who receive e-mail scams respond to the offer, it’s still a profitable deal for the scammers.

Snopes.com is a great way to find out if the e-mail that just landed in your inbox is authentic or not. In fact, they publish a Top Urban Legends list that can come in handy – especially during the political season, when all kinds of falsehoods are spread. On the financial side, it’s always best to keep that old rule in mind: if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.



American 1 Federal Credit Union