Criminals are always finding new ways to steal your identity and your best defense is to be educated and aware. We've provided you with some suggestions to help keep your identity safe.
- Create strong passwords by converting some letters into numbers that resemble the word(ex: BUBBLE can be 3U3313).
- Refrain from using passwords that include personal information (birth date, social security number, etc).
- Be sure to mix numbers and symbols into your password - some hackers use programs that can try every word in the dictionary.
Beware of "Phishy" Emails
The most common form of phishing are emails pretending to be from a legitimate retailer, bank, organization or government agency. The sender asks you to "confirm" your personal information for some false reason:
- Your account is about to be closed
- An order for something has been placed in your name
- Your information has been lost because of a computer problem
- Claim to be from the fraud departments of well-known companies and ask you to verify information because they suspect you are a victim of identity theft
Never provide information about yourself or accounts you hold that is solicited through an email or phone call.
Ignore "Smishy" Text Messages
Identity thieves have moved on to a new realm of attack. Smishing is the practice of sending phoney text messages with the hope of luring the recipient to a fraudulent website or convincing them to call a fake phone number using similar types of bait as in phishing scams.
- Never click on links which are sent via text message to your cell phone. If prompted to dial a particular phone number, verify that number before calling - and if you do call never provide information about yourself or any accounts you hold.
Shielding Your Computer: Beware of Pharming
In this latest version of online identity theft, a computer virus or malicious software is secretly planted in your computer and hijacks your web browser. When you type in the address of a legitimate website, you're taken to a fake copy of the site without realizing it - and any personal information you provide at the phony site (such as account numbers and passwords) can be stolen and fraudulently used.
- Use spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spy software - and keep them up-to-date.
- Don't click on links that ask for personal information, whether it's in an email, a pop-up, or an unsecure web page.
- To check whether the message is really from the company, call it directly or go to its website (using a search engine to find it)
Beware of Online Surveys
Many of the trusted organizations that you do business with - including SF Fire Credit Union - will seek out your valued opinion as they strive to improve the products or level of service they offer. When visiting your favorite (or regular) websites be wary of fake 'pop-up' surveys that do their best to appear as a legitimate feature of the website.
- Never respond to a survey which asks you to provide ANY INFORMATION ABOUT YOURSELF - including your name, address, birthday, account numbers or Social Security Number. A survey conducted on behalf of SF Fire Credit Union will never ask or require you to provide information about yourself.
- Never respond to a survey which promises to send you a FREE GIFT if you complete it. This is a common tactic of identity thieves to lure you into their scam.
Check-In with Your Checking
Research has shown that of all identity theft cases, 33% were victimized through checking account fraud (www.idtheftcenter.org) - it's important to keep an eye on your checking account activity.
- Reconcile your statements regularly. This is probably the quickest and easiest way to detect identity theft.
- Limit the amount of personal information on your checks - fraudsters can use this info to apply for loans, credit cards, etc.
- When you receive a new check order, be sure that all boxes are there, and have not been opened. Report any missing checks immediately.
- Try to not leave your checkbook in your vehicle, or in a visible place in your home - always keep it in a secure location just in case a robbery occurs.