Fraud and Identity Theft
Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft
If you suspect that you may have been the victim of Identity theft, please call a Taleris Member Services Representative at 800.828.6446 to report the incident. We will take immediate action to secure your accounts.
Identity theft (or “true name fraud”) occurs when a criminal obtains and uses a consumer’s personal information such as credit card numbers, bank and credit union account numbers, insurance information, and Social Security numbers to purchase goods or services fraudulently. Generally, criminals will do this by opening new accounts in your name, purchasing products, and then leaving you to pay the bill.
In this age of information, criminals can acquire personal information about others much easier than before. Many legitimate businesses share or sell information about their customers without knowing how it will be used or misused. Now more than ever, consumers need to be proactive about protecting their personal information.
Ohio law addresses the growing problem of identity theft. The law, which went into effect August 25, 1999, follows a federal law passed in 1998, making it unlawful for someone to use another person’s identifying information.
Indications That You Are a Victim of Identity Theft
- Receiving calls from bill collectors of companies for which you have not bought goods or services.
- Failing to receive bills, statements, or other mail signaling an address change by the identity thief.
- Receiving cards or business statements for accounts for which you did not apply.
Phone Numbers for Reporting Identity Theft
Credit Reporting Bureaus
- Equifax to report fraud 800-525-6285
- Equifax to order credit report 800-685-1111
- Experian to report fraud 888-397-3742
- Experian to order credit report 800-301-7195
- Trans Union to report fraud 800-680-7289
- Trans Union to order credit report 800-916-8800
Social Security Administration
- To report fraud 800-269-0271
- To order benefit statement 800-722-1213
Tips for Preventing Identity Theft
- Be cautious when providing personal information such as your Social Security number and account or credit card information over the telephone, in person or on the Internet. Don’t give out this information unless you are sure with whom you are dealing.
- Protect your Social Security number and the Social Security numbers of your children and other family members by not carrying them in your wallet.
- Report lost or stolen checks, credit or debit cards immediately. Taleris Credit Union will block payment on the check numbers or account numbers involved.
- Limit the number of credit card pre-approved offers that you receive by removing your name from the marketing lists of the three credit reporting bureaus. Visit www.optoutprescreen.com to remove your name from their lists now.
- Store cancelled checks, new checks and account statements in a safe place.
- Notify the credit union of suspicious phone inquiries such as those asking for account information to “verify a statement” or “award a prize.”
- Review your credit report at least once every year. Make sure all information is up-to-date and accurate.
- Memorize your PIN (Personal Identification Number) and refrain from writing it, your Social Security number or credit card number on a check.
- Tear up or shred any pre-approved credit offers to which you do not respond. Thieves can use these offers to assume your identity.
- Keep mail secure. Don’t mail bills or sensitive information from your home or unsecured mailboxes. Retrieve and review your mail promptly. Thieves may use the personal information contained in your mail to steal your identity.
- Shred all papers containing financial and personal information.
- Make a list of credit cards, ATM cards, debit cards, credit union and investment accounts and phone numbers associated with each and keep the list in a safety deposit box or fireproof safe.
- Never give or “verify” account numbers over the phone.
- Do not use mother’s maiden name or other common things (such as address numbers) as passwords for credit and debit cards.
- Close all unused credit, credit union and bank accounts and shred credit offers.
- Don’t carry your social security card in your wallet.
- Don’t leave outgoing payments in your mailbox.
- Always use secure websites for Internet purchases.
- Never keep PIN numbers with ATM or debit cards.
- Don’t discard a computer without having first deleted all personal data.
- Order a credit report at least once a year and look for abnormalities.
- Remove your name from the marketing lists of the three credit-reporting agencies; this will limit the number of pre-screened offers of credit you receive in the mail. To do this, call the Credit Reporting Industry opt-out phone number. The three major credit bureaus use the same toll-free number for this service: 888.567.8688.
Identity Theft Action Steps
- Contact the fraud department of all three (3) credit bureaus and fill out a victim impact statement.
- Contact all creditors for accounts that have been opened fraudulently and follow up this action with a letter, sending it certified mail.
- Contact local law enforcement (in your community and/or the community in which the identity theft took place).
- Contact your financial institution to flag your accounts.
- Keep a record of all contacts.
- Alert Social Security on the Fraud Hotline (800-269-0271).
- Contact your state DMV to see if an additional license was issued in your name.
- Close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
- If your checks have been stolen, close the account and ask your financial institution to notify the appropriate check verification service (TeleCheck, Check Systems, etc.).
- If mail has been stolen, contact your local postal inspector.
Identity Theft Resource Center
The Identity Theft Resource Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to understanding of Identity Theft and related issues. Their site offers a wide variety of information including: Victim Resources, Consumer Resources, State and Local Resources, Scams and Consumer Alerts and more. To access their site, CLICK HERE. This link will open in a new tab and take you to a site operated by the Identity Theft Resource Center.
Protect Yourself Against Phishing, Vishing and Smishing
What is Phishing?
Phishing is probably the most recognizable term in this list, as a lot has been done to bring awareness to these sorts of scams in recent years. If you haven’t heard of phishing, it is essentially when a fraudster impersonates a trustworthy source in a digital communication (such as an email) to obtain information of a sensitive nature. This can include login credentials for social networking and banking websites and even credit card information. Phishing is most commonly perpetrated by scammers over email.
How to Spot a Phishing Attempt
Watch for red flags in emails that could indicate an email isn’t from who you think. Phishing attempts often involve the fraudster impersonating someone you might know and asking you to do something urgently or feigning an emergency in the hopes that the emotional nature of the email will have you overlook important details like the sender email not matching the sender name. Less sophisticated attempts at phishing might include emails that have poor grammar or sentence structure. A poorly written email asking for something out of the ordinary can indicate something sinister is going on.
Best Practices to Protect Yourself From Phishing:
- Never open an email from a sender you don’t recognize
- Never click on an unsolicited link inside of an email
- Double-check the sender address to see if the domain looks inauthentic
What is Smishing?
Smishing is quickly becoming more common among scammers and is a form of phishing that relies on text messages to retrieve information. While many of us have become used to seeing unsavory-looking emails on a regular basis; untrustworthy text messages are something we are not so well conditioned to look out for. A good practice when it comes to smishing is therefore to never reply to a text message from a number you don’t recognize and to never click on a link embedded within a text. If the number looks funny right off, it may be best even to just delete it without opening it. If you do open some unfamiliar text messages, however, here are tactics employed by smishers you can be on the lookout for:
- Posing as a collections agency threatening to hurt your credit score
- Soliciting payments for an overdue service
- Asking you to confirm banking information
- Pretty much anything with a “click here”
SMS marketing is on the rise and it’s likely that people will receive fewer telemarketing calls and more text messages in the coming years. As a result, always exercise caution when clicking on a link or an offer that comes through your text inbox.
What is Vishing?
Even if you’re not familiar with the name of this particular form of phishing, you’ve probably heard stories of people falling victim to this ploy. Vishing is a scam whereby fraudsters call your personal phone number and threaten you with serious consequences if certain conditions are not met. While it used to be easier to avoid telemarketing and scam calls, nowadays, many of these calls appear to come from a local number so you are more likely to answer it.
- Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers
- Never give out credit card information over the phone (unless you are confident you are speaking to a verified representative from your financial institution/insurance company etc. and you are the one who initiated the call)
Social Engineering Tactics
One of the key tactics of all forms of phishing is something referred to as social engineering. This is a technique whereby fraudsters gain people’s trust initially (just as a con artist would do in-person), and build rapport with their victims before executing their scam. Because some trust has now been established with the phisher, people may be more likely to comply with their requests.