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Security

Fraud Prevention Guide

woman reading paperwork

Protect yourself against identity theft with this guide.

Prevention

Keep your mail safe

Criminals often steal mail in order to perpetrate fraud. Collect mail promptly from your mailbox. Ask the post office to hold your mail while you are away or on vacation. Send all mail correspondence that contains personal and / or financial information from the post office or a secure, public mailbox. Many financial institutions offer the ability to opt out of paper statements. Visit your Credit Union's website or local branch for additional details.

Stay safe online

There are many online threats such as phishing, malware, etc. Do not send sensitive information via email such as a credit card or other financial information. Make sure you are on a secure website when providing personal information online (an address containing https or shttp instead of http, and often has a padlock icon). Avoid easy-to-figure-out passwords. Passwords should be at least eight characters long, preferably using letters, numbers, and symbols. Carry PINs and passwords in your head and do not put them in your wallet or purse. Install firewall, anti-virus, and spyware protection on your computer. Keep them updated especially if you use internet services from a public router. Do not use a public computer when accessing your personal accounts or conducting financial transactions online. Make sure your home wireless router is encrypted and password protected. When selling items online, watch out for real-looking fake checks and money orders. Be wary of overpayments or endorsed checks. Never wire excess payments back to the buyer or someone else.

Out of sight, out of mind

Fraud is often committed by the people you come in contact with on a daily basis. Avoid leaving personal information in common areas at home, work, or school where teens, service repair men, etc. can quickly access your records (e.g. kitchen counter or desk). Do not leave PINs or passwords in your wallet, on your desk or in other accessible areas. Instead, memorize them. Only carry the essentials in your wallet or purse. Shred or destroy unused financial solicitations, credit card applications, and other financial documents such as credit card and ATM receipts. Shred or erase hard drives from copiers, printers, and computers that may hold confidential information.

Know your audience

Avoid giving personal information out in a public place. You never know who is listening. Do not give personal information over the phone including via text messages or computer unless you are sure of whom you are talking to and you initiated contact. Reduce the amount of information you have printed on your checks. Omit your driver’s license number and social security number. Remember individuals you write checks to and those who look over your shoulder while you are writing a check can easily memorize the information and use it to create counterfeit checks to commit fraud in your name.

Credit cards & rewards cards

Keep copies of your credit card account numbers and the phone numbers to report lost or stolen cards. Be sure to keep them locked up. Report lost or stolen cards immediately. Sign credit cards in permanent ink as soon as they are received. If you applied for credit, monitor the arrival of the new card. Contact the creditor immediately if you do not receive the new card within the anticipated time frame. If merchants use carbons for your credit card transactions, ask for the carbons so you can properly destroy them. Remove grocery or department store rewards cards from your key chain. If possible, remove name and address from these cards as well. It is possible for a person to find and steal a set of keys, scan the rewards tag on the key chain to determine the owner and possibly their home address, and use this information to break into their home.

Proactive steps

The NC Attorney General’s Office recommends that you place a security freeze on your credit report. The security freeze prevents an identity thief from opening a new account or obtaining credit in your name. Each credit bureau has different requirements. Contact the Attorney General’s Office at www.ncdoj.gov or call (877) 566-7226 (toll free within NC) for additional details. If you decide to apply for credit while the security freeze is active, you will need to plan ahead and contact the credit bureaus to temporarily release the security freeze. Opt out of prescreened credit offers at (888) 5-OPT-OUT or optoutprescreen.com. Deployed military personnel can place an active duty alert on their credit file.

Protect your deceased relatives from identity thieves. Notify the Social Security Administration at (800) 772-1213 to add your deceased relative to the Death Master File. Be prepared to provide a copy of the death certificate. Contact the credit bureaus to place a deceased alert on their credit file. Contact any institutions where they had accounts or loans, as well as health insurers and the DMV.

Monitor

Pay attention to your billing cycles and make sure you receive your financial statements on time. Notify the companies immediately if you have not received your statement in the appropriate time frame. Obtain a free credit report annually from each credit-reporting agency by calling (877) 322-8228 or visiting annualcreditreport.com. It is recommended that you stagger credit reports every four months so that your report is reviewed throughout the year rather than just once a year.

Review your financial statements monthly and report any discrepancies immediately. A financial institution is not required to refund any monies if the discrepancy is not reported within the appropriate timeframe.

Monitor your credit report, SSN benefit statement, and medical insurer benefit forms regularly. Verify that there is not a criminal record in your name. Criminals do not always just use your personal information to commit financial fraud. They may also commit crimes, apply for jobs, or receive medical benefits in your name.

Identity theft contact information

If you think you may be a victim of identity theft, contact the Credit Union immediately. Additionally, you may need to contact your local law enforcement and at least one of the major consumer credit reporting agencies.

Consumer reporting agencies

Equifax

Order credit report: (800) 685-1111
Report fraud: (800) 525-6285
www.equifax.com

Experian

Order credit report: (888) 397-3742
Report fraud: (888) 397-3742
www.experian.com

TransUnion

Order credit report: (800) 888-4213
Report fraud: (800) 680-7289
www.transunion.com

Other resources

Identity Theft Resource Center

Federal Trade Commission

ID theft hotline: (877) IDTHEFT
Identity Theft

Privacy Rights Clearninghouse