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Online Safety

Identity Theft

Identity theft occurs when someone uses another person's personal information such as name, Social Security number, driver's license number, credit card number, or other identifying information to take on that person's identity in order to commit fraud or other crimes. Stealing an identity is, unfortunately, surprisingly easy to do and happens when you least expect it. Identity theft affects millions of people each year and is one of the fastest growing crimes in America.

Protection of electronic funds transfers (EFTs) conducted through Aerospace Federal Credit Union (AFCU) is provided under a regulation set forth by the Federal Reserve. Regulation E outlines the rules and procedures for electronic funds transfers and outlines guidelines for those who sell and issue electronic debit cards. For details about your EFT rights and responsibilities, plus the terms and conditions of your AFCU account membership please see our Membership Disclosure.

AFCU will never contact you on an unsolicited basis to request your personal information, including electronic credentials such as your User ID, Password or Authentication Answers.

AFCU’s effort to secure electronic banking does not secure the internet or the transaction of information over the internet. There are steps you can take to prevent identity theft and internet fraud.

Methods of Identity Theft

Types of identity theft can be classified in two different categories: high-tech and low-tech. The high-tech types of ID theft include phishing, spamming, hacking, spyware and Trojans. Low-tech types include telephone scams, mail stealing, shoulder surfing and dumpster diving.

Identity Theft Prevention

Before revealing personal financial information, make sure you know who you’re dealing with, how the information will be used, and if it will be shared with others. Report any suspicious behavior or if you think you’re a victim of identity theft to AFCU right away. All our contact information can be found on the “Contact Us” page of our website. Here are some tips from the National Association of Federal Credit Unions on what you can do to stop these crimes before they happen:

  1. Do not give out financial information such as checking and credit card numbers, or your Social Security number, unless you know the person or company.
  2. Report lost or stolen checks immediately. AFCU will block payment.
  3. Notify AFCU of suspicious phone inquiries such as those asking for account information to “verify a statement” or “award a prize.”
  4. Closely guard your ATM Personal Identification Number and ATM receipts.
  5. Shred any financial solicitations and credit union statements before disposing of them.
  6. Put outgoing mail into a secure, official Postal Service collection box.
  7. If your bills include questionable items, don’t ignore them. Instead, investigate immediately to head off any possible fraudulent charges.
  8. Periodically contact the major credit reporting companies to review your file and make certain the information is correct.

Recovering from Identity Theft

The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act) helps ensure that all citizens are treated fairly when they apply for credit. It provides new national ID theft protections as well. One provision requires the three major credit-reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) to provide consumers with a free copy of their own credit report. To obtain a free credit report visit www.annualcreditreport.com. These credit bureaus are also required to share identity theft complaints, so consumers will need to make only one call to receive advice, set off a nationwide fraud alert, and protect their credit standing.

The Act also allows active duty military personnel to place special alerts on their files when they are deployed overseas.

To help recover from identity theft:

  • Contact all creditors, utilities, and financial institutions about fraudulent accounts and follow up each conversation with a letter. Close suspicious accounts and open new ones using new passwords and PINs. Don’t use recognizable identifiers such as the last 4 digits of your SSN, your birth date, phone number, etc. for passwords and PINs.
  • File a report with your local police or the police where the theft took place. Get a copy of the report in case a creditor needs proof of the crime.
  • File a complaint with the FTC at the Identity Theft Hotline, toll-free at 877-IDTHEFT (438-4338).
  • Ask your creditors if they’ll accept the FTC’s ID Theft Affidavit. You can get one by calling the FTC at 877-IDTHEFT or at www.consumer.gov/idtheft. The affidavit allows consumers to report identity theft information to several companies simultaneously.
  • If it appears that someone is using your SSN, contact the Social Security Administration to verify the accuracy of your reported earnings and your name. Call 800-772-1213 to check your Social Security statement.

Defending Yourself Against Identity Theft

As technology advances, you can be sure that identity thieves are not far behind. Here are some common methods cyberthieves use to steal your personal information and how you can increase your security while shopping or banking.

Your email messages may not be quite what they appear to be if you’re targeted by a phishing scam. Phishing is the act of sending fraudulent emails that seem to come from familiar businesses. These messages contain links to phony websites designed to steal personal information either directly or through malware and keyloggers. Often you’ll see a problem referenced with a request to click on the link provided to correct it. Once you’ve entered your information, ID thieves can access your accounts.

Vishing is the telephone version of phishing. Callers are sometimes bold enough to suggest the victim call back to verify authenticity. But the vishers don’t actually hang up; instead they play a recorded dial tone to make the victim believe he’s making a call.

Debit and credit card fraud
Most shoppers love the convenience of plastic, and identity thieves use this to their advantage whether it involves skimming, phishing, vishing, malware, mail theft or just looking over a victim’s shoulder to steal account numbers. When debit cards are compromised, it’s particularly alarming because fraudulent purchases drain your checking account instantly.

BEC scams
Business email compromise, or BEC, scams have cost companies more than $1.2 billion. A phony email from a CEO requesting that funds be transferred per attached instructions is sent to an employee. Because the email appears to come from the employee’s superiors, and because the message so closely resembles requests this employee receives regularly, the transfer is often made without question. The money then ends up in overseas accounts that are almost impossible to trace.

Tips to protect yourself
To even further reduce fraud risk:

  • Install the latest editions of antispyware, antivirus, firewalls and browsers to all devices, and password-protect them.
  • Use strong passwords for all accounts and change them frequently.
  • Monitor accounts and credit reports to detect fraud early
  • Don’t use public Wi-Fi networks for financial transactions.
  • Keep cards away from public view, and shred personal documents before discarding.
  • Opt in for two-factor authentication on accounts.
  • Turn off bluetooth and near field communication when not in use.
  • Don’t click on email links. Type full web addresses to access business websites.
  • Never share sensitive information with unsolicited callers or email senders.
  • To verify calls, hang up for at least one minute to insure the first call is disconnected.
  • To protect your business from BEC scams, use a two-step verification process for all money transfers. Verbal confirmation is also wise.

Staying informed and adopting smart fraud prevention practices will go a long way toward protecting your identity. Between your efforts and your bank’s security, you should be able to stay a step ahead of identity thieves.

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