Saturday, October 19, 2013

The first step to protecting yourself from criminals is awareness.

Understanding how criminals get your information can help you take the necessary security precautions to protect yourself and your accounts.

Overview

Frauds Types – Learn about common types of frauds and scams.
Fraud & Lost Items – Find out what to do if your account information is lost or stolen.
Identity Theft – Find out what to do if you are a victim of identity theft. Learn about the different methods thieves use to obtain your personal information and how to safeguard your information.
Personal Security – Learn security tips for safeguarding yourself and your account.

Types of Fraud

Mass Marketing, Mail, Wire, Telephone, and Internet Fraud
Mass Marketing Frauds can target anyone. Victims are lured with false promises of significant cash prizes, goods, and services, in exchange for upfront fees, taxes, or donations.
  • Credit and loan fraud includes a variety of scams that target folks applying for credit and dealing with debt.
  • Advance-fee loan scams involve charging an upfront fee to guarantee a credit card or loan before you apply. These offers are illegal and often target people with credit problems.
  • Debt settlement scams include deceptive ads that promise debt relief when in fact they are offering bankruptcy, and others that promise bogus creditor negotiation services in exchange for money.
  • Mail fraud is a scheme to get money or something of value from you by offering a product, service, or investment opportunity. If any part of the fraud involves the use of the US Mail, it is considered to be mail fraud. For more information on mail frauds, how to protect yourself, and what to do if you have think you have been a victim, visit USPS at:
  • Traditional mortgage fraud:
    This is a type of fraud in which homebuyers and/or lenders materially misrepresent or omit information on a mortgage loan application to obtain a loan or to obtain a larger loan than would have been obtained had the lender or borrower known the truth.
  • Mortgage rescue and loan modification scams: 
    Many so-called foreclosure rescue companies or foreclosure assistance firms claim they can help struggling homeowners save their home from foreclosure. Some even offer a money-back guarantee. Unfortunately, most of these foreclosure fraudsters take the money and run. Before committing, verify that the organization is legit by contacting the Better Business Bureau.
  • Reverse mortgage scams: 
    A reverse mortgage is a special type of loan that enables senior homeowners, ages 62 and over, to convert some of the home equity into cash without selling the home or having to make monthly payments. Reverse mortgages can be useful products, but unfortunately have been associated with deceptive practices and allegations of high-pressure sales tactics and the risk of being steered into inappropriate loans and annuities. For more information regarding reverse mortgage facts, visit the 
    FTC.
Tax Fraud
Schemes that offer instant wealth or exemption from your obligation as a United States citizen to file tax returns and/or pay taxes are types of tax frauds. Participating in an illegal scheme to avoid paying taxes can result in imprisonment and fines, as well as the repayment of taxes owed with penalties and interest. For more information on tax frauds, visit the IRS.
  • Charity Fraud: 
    Everyone receives requests for donations in one form or another. Many legitimate charities use telemarketing, direct mail, email, and online ads to ask for contributions. Unfortunately, scam artists also use these techniques to pocket your money. If someone asks for a donation, take the time to familiarize yourself with the charity. Ask for the charity’s name, address, and phone number, and written information about its programs.  A common trick is to use a name that is similar to a legitimate charity.  Check out any charity you are not familiar with at the office that regulates charities in your state. For a list of state offices, visit the National Association of State Charity Officials. Additional information can also be found in the Charity Fraud section of the FTC website.
  • Job Scams: 
    Many people looking for work have been ripped off by scam artists who promise a job, access to special job listings, interviews, or a way to make a big income working from home – that is, if they just pay a fee or turn over their credit or debit card information. Don’t pay for the promise of a job
.

Identity Theft
What is identity theft?
Identity theft is a fraudulent act committed or attempted using someone's personal identifying information without their permission.

Personal information includes:
  • Name
  • Social Security number
  • Driver's License number
  • Account numbers
Are you an identity theft victim?
If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, take the following actions immediately:
  • Place a Fraud Alert on your credit report. Creditors will then have to follow certain procedures before opening an account. Here is the list of credit bureaus and their contact information.
  • Contact the Security or Fraud Departments of each company where there is an impacted account.
  • File a police report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place.
What are common methods of stealing identities?
  • Data Breach/Card Compromise is a security incident in which sensitive, protected or confidential data is copied, transmitted, viewed, stolen or used by an individual unauthorized to do so.
  • Phishing is the use of fake emails or text messages that appear to come from legitimate sources requesting personal and financial information.
  • Pharming obtains personal information by directing users to a spoofed website where personal information is captured.
  • Skimming is the theft of credit or debit card information typically completed by use of a device (skimmer) that captures information from the magnetic strip of the card.
  • Malware is the use of appealing websites, desirable downloads, and compelling stories to lure you to links that include viruses and spyware designed to steal personal information, send spam, and commit fraud.
  • Computer Hacking involves unauthorized access to computer networks, systems and databases to obtain personal data, often in large quantities.
  • Dumpster Diving is obtaining personal information by digging through the trash looking for statements, receipts or other information.
  • Address Change/Mail Forwarded results in your mail, such as account statements, bills, and credit card offers being forwarded.
  • Old-fashioned stealing of purses, wallets, credit card and bank statements, and pre-approved credit card offers to obtain personal information.
How can you safeguard your identity?
  • Shred financial documents and paperwork with personal information before you discard them.
  • Protect your Social Security number. Don't carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write your Social Security number on a check.
  • Don't give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless you know who you are dealing with.
  • Avoid disclosing personal financial information when using public wireless connections.
  • Check your credit report at least annually to identify any accounts or usage you do not recognize. To obtain your free annual credit report, visit annualcreditreport.com or call1.877.322.8228.
  • Consider buying an identity protection product.
Personal Security
ATM/Debit Card Security
  • Treat your card like cash and protect it at all times.
  • Do not lend or give your card to anyone.
  • Take your card with you after making a purchase or withdrawal.
  • Take your receipt with you and verify it against your monthly account statement.
  • Report a lost or stolen card immediately, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to1.800.725.5411.
Personal Identification Number (PIN) Security
  • Do not share your PIN with anyone.
  • Do not write your PIN on the card or the card sleeve.
  • Do not store the PIN with your card, in your wallet, or in your purse.
  • Do not allow anyone else to enter your code for you.
  • Stand between the ATM/terminal and anyone waiting to use the machine so that others cannot see your PIN or transaction amount.
ATM Security
  • Park close to the ATM and observe the entire ATM area before leaving the safety of your car.
  • Do not allow a stranger to help you make a transaction.
  • Observe the entire ATM area before rolling down the window of your car to use the drive-up ATM.
  • Minimize the time spent at the ATM by counting the money after you have left the ATM.
  • Cancel your transaction and leave immediately if you see anyone or anything suspicious.
Home Computer Security
  • Ensure firewalls, anti-spyware, and anti-virus software are installed on your home computer. Update and run them frequently.
  • Change your passwords on a regular basis.
  • Do not download or install software without verifying the source.
  • Do not click links inside spam email.
  • Install a personal firewall on your computer.



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