Recognizing scams can be difficult! Follow these tips to protect yourself from falling victim to fraud or a scam:
Monitor Your Credit
Check your credit report annually. Consumers are entitled to a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) annually. To get started, simply go to: https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action.
Protect Yourself from Scams
- Be mindful of emails or phone requests claiming to be from a business or financial institution. If you have any suspicions about the legitimacy of the call, hang up and call the main phone number.
- Avoid opening attachments and clicking on links contained in emails received from unfamiliar sources. Phishing emails often contain attachments or links to malicious websites infected with malware.
- Avoid clicking on links or calling the telephone number contained within text messages received from unfamiliar sources. Beware of text messages from unknown senders.
- Check with your financial institution to determine if account protections, such as security challenge pass-phrase, account notes, and travel protections are available.
- In general, be wary of offers that are too good to be true, require fast action, or instill a sense of fear.
Protect Yourself Online
- Use strong passwords that are at least 11 characters in length that are case-sensitive and include alpha-numeric characters and at least one symbol.
- Be sure your home computer is protected with a firewall and antivirus/anti-malware software.
- Avoid using public Wi-Fi and public computers to conduct online transactions.
- Be wary of what you are sharing. Openly sharing information on social media can provide an identity thief with the necessary information to impersonate you or answer certain challenge questions. Keep social media accounts private and be cautious with whom you engage. Never share anything about your credit union account, transactional history, or identifying information in unprotected public forums.
Protect Your Children and/or Minors from Identity Theft and Fraud
Most minors under the age 18 may not have a credit report available for review. However, children are regular targets of identity theft, and parents should take care to protect their children’s financial future.
Look for warning signs:
- You receive collection notices or calls regarding products and services in your child’s name.
- You receive notice declaring your child owes back income tax, or that their information was used on tax returns.
- Marketing offers arrive for pre-approved credit in your child’s name. This could be a sign that an account was opened at a financial institution.
- Be careful about sharing your child’s private identifying information (especially their social security number). If asked to share that information, make sure you know what it will be used for and only release it if necessary.
Check your Child’s Credit:
- Contact each of the three nationwide credit reporting bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – and request a credit report in your child’s name. Each has their own process, and it may take time, but it will be worth it!
- If there is a credit report in your child’s name, request a fraud alert, and consider placing a credit freeze.
- Contact your local police department or Attorney General’s Office to report the identity theft and request a copy of any report generated.
- Contact any financial institution and business listed on your child’s credit report and explain the account was opened because of theft and request it be closed. You may need to produce documentation from the credit bureaus and law enforcement.
- Keep a detailed list of any phone calls made and/or documents received as you may need to produce them later.