Summer Vacation Scams: Possible Hazards of Hoteling

Customers paying at the hotelBooking a hotel stay for a summer vacation? Before you check in, check out how scammers can try to take advantage of travelers.  Always be aware and on the lookout for possible scams!

The late night call from the front desk.

You think you’re getting a late night call from the front desk telling you there’s a problem with your credit card and they need to verify the number, so you read it to them over the phone. But it’s really a scammer on the line. If a hotel really had an issue with your card, they would ask you to come to the front desk.

The pizza delivery deal.

In another scam, you find a pizza delivery flyer slipped under your hotel door. You call to order, and they take your credit card number over the phone. But the flyer is a fake, and a scammer now has your info. Before you order, make sure you check out the business (ensure it’s a franchise or reputable), or get food recommendations from the front desk. 

The fake Wi-Fi network.

You search for Wi-Fi networks and find one with the hotel’s name. But it turns out it’s only a sound-alike and has nothing to do with the hotel. By using it, you could give a scammer access to your information. Check with the hotel to make sure you’re using the authorized network before you connect. Read more tips on using public Wi-Fi networks.

Other things to be cautious of when staying at or booking a hotel stay:

  • Always lock your car, and don’t leave anything valuable in your vehicle and/or visible.
  • Try to park your car as close to the front office of the hotel as possible.
  • Don’t leave anything valuable in your room unless there is a secure way to do it (like an in-room safe).
  • Check your credit card statement after your stay to make sure it’s accurate.
  • Be weary of hotel booking websites – there have been instances of advertisements claiming that for booking a hotel room you can receive a complimentary gift card from a known retailer. When clicked on, the scammers will oftentimes ask for a credit card number and more personal info.

Haven’t booked your trip yet? If you’re thinking of getting a vacation rental, take a moment to read up about rental listing scams. And check out these other travel tips, including tell-tale signs that a travel offer or prize might be a scam.

Don’t wait until it’s too late! Check out First Financial’s ID Theft Protection products – with our Fully Managed Identity Recovery services, you don’t need to worry. A professional Recovery Advocate will do the work on your behalf, based on a plan that you approve. Should you experience an Identity Theft incident, your Recovery Advocate will stick with you all along the way – and will be there for you until your good name is restored.

Our ID Theft Protection options may include some of the following services, based on the package you choose to enroll in: Lost Document Replacement, Credit Bureau Monitoring, Score Tracker, and Three-Generation Family Benefit.* To learn more about our ID Theft Protection products, click here and find out how you can enroll today – as well as get started with your first 90 days free!**

*Identity Theft insurance underwritten by subsidiaries or affiliates of Chartis Inc. The description herein is a summary and intended for informational purposes only and does not include all terms, conditions and exclusions of the policies described. Please refer to the actual policies for terms, conditions, and exclusions of coverage. Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions.

**Available for new enrollments only. After the free trial of 90 days, the member must contact the Credit Union to opt-out of ID Theft Protection or the monthly fee of $4.95 will automatically be deducted out of the base savings account or $8.95 will be deducted out of the First Protection Checking account (depending upon the coverage option selected), on a monthly basis or until the member opts out of the program.

Article Source: Amy Herbert – Consumer Education Specialist for the FTC, http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/hazards-hoteling.

Important Alert: Card Cracking Scam Targets Students

scamCash-strapped college students are being recruited to participate in a scam
referred to as “card cracking.” Using ATM/debit cards and PINs willingly provided by the students, fraudsters deposit fraudulent checks to the students’ accounts. The funds are subsequently withdrawn by the fraudsters with the students receiving a portion of the funds for their participation.

Details
The “card cracking” scam was reported to originate in Chicago and generally targeted college students who were recruited through social media sites including Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Participants were even recruited in-person at college campuses. The sales pitch is to allow the fraudster to deposit a check to a student’s account and withdraw the funds for which the student receives half of the proceeds for agreeing to participate. This scam is now being reported nationwide.

Willing participants provide the fraudsters with their ATM/debit cards and PINs. The fraudsters deposit fraudulent checks (stolen or counterfeit checks) to the student accounts via ATMs and subsequently withdraw the funds. Their proposition is simple: If you provide me with access to your account so I can deposit a check and withdraw the money, I will provide you with half of the proceeds.

After initial contact is made, the scammer arranges to meet up with the student to retrieve the debit card and corresponding PIN. The deposit is made, the money is withdrawn and then the fraudulent checks were subsequently returned unpaid and charged back to the students’ accounts. Following the fraudsters’ instructions, the participants report their ATM/debit card as lost or stolen and that the transactions were fraudulent.

The participants may not be entitled to protection under Regulation E (Reg E) for
unauthorized use of their ATM/debit card since they willingly provided their card to the
fraudsters which contains an exclusion to the definition of unauthorized
electronic fund transfer:

Unauthorized electronic fund transfer means an electronic fund transfer from a consumer’s account initiated by a person other than the consumer without actual authority to initiate the transfer, and from which the consumer receives no benefit. The term does not include an electronic fund transfer initiated by a person who was furnished access to the consumer’s account by the consumer, unless the consumer has notified their financial institution that transfers by that person are no longer authorized.

This is a huge risk – especially for students who may have large amounts going through their accounts from loans, scholarships and tuition reimbursements.

“Even though the students might be considered victims, authorities point out that providing their debit cards to someone else is a crime,” the Sun-Times of Chicago says.

There’s an easy solution: Never share your account information, debit card or PIN! 

Here are some other safety tips you should keep in mind:

  • Always verify the identity of the person trying to obtain personal information.
  • Never give personal information to someone over the phone or via email. Personal information includes: Birth dates, social security numbers, maiden names, addresses, bank account numbers, debit/credit card numbers, PIN numbers, etc.
  • Maintain a record of the phone call or solicitation. Write down the phone number that the person is calling from, the time and date they called, the caller’s name, and reported affiliation. If it was online, save a copy of the email conversation or advertisement.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • If you believe you may be a victim of fraud call your local police department so authorities can be alerted to the activity. You can also report email or internet scams to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) by going online to http://www.ic3.gov.

Check out First Financial’s ID Theft Protection products – with our Fully Managed Identity Recovery services, you don’t need to worry. A professional Recovery Advocate will do the work on your behalf, based on a plan that you approve. Should you experience an Identity Theft incident, your Recovery Advocate will stick with you all along the way – and will be there for you until your good name is restoredTo learn more about our ID Theft Protection products, click here and enroll today!*

Click the links to view more information from the original article sources: Yahoo Finance, Explorer News and CUNA Mutual Group.

*Identity Theft insurance underwritten by subsidiaries or affiliates of Chartis Inc. The description herein is a summary and intended for informational purposes only and does not include all terms, conditions and exclusions of the policies described. Please refer to the actual policies for terms, conditions, and exclusions of coverage. Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions.

7 Safety Tips for Using a Public Computer

How-to-Check-If-Your-Computer-Is-Safe-400x350Public computers in libraries, Internet cafes, airports, and copy shops can be safe if you follow a few simple rules when you use them. Read these tips to help keep your work, personal, or financial information private.

  • Don’t save your logon information: Always log out of websites by clicking “log out” on the site. It’s not enough to simply close the browser window or type in another address. Many programs (especially social networking websites, web mail, and instant messenger programs) include automatic login features that will save your user name and password. Disable this option so no one can log in as you.
  • Important – Don’t leave the computer unattended with sensitive information on the screen: If you have to leave the public computer, log out of all programs and close all windows that might display sensitive information.
  • Erase your tracks: Internet Explorer offers InPrivate browsing that leaves no trace of specific web activity. For more information, see Internet Explorer 9 Features: InPrivate Browsing. Internet Explorer also keeps a record of your passwords and every page you visit, even after you’ve closed them and logged out.
  • Disable the feature that stores passwords: Before you go to the web, turn off the Internet Explorer feature that “remembers” your passwords. 1. In Internet Explorer, click Tools , and then click Internet Options. 2. Click the Content tab, and then click Settings, next to AutoComplete. 3. Click to clear the check box for User names on passwords and forms.
  • Delete your temporary Internet files and your history: When you finish your use of a public computer, you can help protect your private information by deleting your temporary Internet files. For information on how to delete temporary Internet files see delete webpage history.
  • Watch for over-the-shoulder snoops: When you use a public computer, be on the lookout for thieves who look over your shoulder or watch as you enter sensitive passwords to collect your information.
  • Don’t enter sensitive information into a public computer: These measures provide some protection against casual hackers who use a public computer after you have. But keep in mind that an industrious thief might have installed sophisticated software on the public computer that records every keystroke and then emails that information back to the thief. Then it doesn’t matter if you haven’t saved your information or if you’ve erased your tracks. They still have access to this information. If you really want to be safe, avoid typing your credit card number or any other financial or otherwise sensitive information into any public computer.

Get protected against the risks of ID theft & fraud and do it for less than you can imagine with our new ID Theft Protection Products. This protects YOUR WHOLE FAMILY! To enroll in our ID Theft Protection services, stop into any First Financial branch or call 866.750.0100. Visit our webpage for additional details and information.

T.H.I.N.K First because There’s Harm INot Knowing

Click here to view the article source.

*Identity Theft insurance underwritten by subsidiaries or affiliates of Chartis Inc. The description herein is a summary and intended for informational purposes only and does not include all terms, conditions and exclusions of the policies described. Please refer to the actual policies for terms, conditions, and exclusions of coverage. Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions.

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Safety Precautions When Driving in the Rain

???????????????????Fog, rain, snow and -whatever Mother Nature throws at you, can be a serious driving hazard. Maximize your safety on the road with these tips:

  • Check equipment. Throughout the season, monitor your tires for tread wear and proper inflation, replace worn wiper blades and top off your windshield washer fluid as needed. 
  • Wait if possible. Avoid going out early in a storm. Streets often are slickest during the first hour of rain when road oils and water combine to create a slippery surface.
  • Give yourself extra room. Rule number one: Slow down. If the road is wet, allow at least twice as much following distance as on dry pavement.
  • Don’t depend on technology. Antilock braking systems may actually lengthen stopping distances, and four-wheel drive won’t prevent hydroplaning on water or improve braking on slick roads.

Click here for more slick weather driving tips.

For more information and how Liberty Mutual Insurance may be able to help you save on your auto insurance, feel free to contact our Liberty Mutual representative, Dan Ressegiue or visit our webpage:

AgentDanielRessegiueDaniel Ressegiue

303 West Main Street | Suite 100
Freehold, NJ 07728
732-308-3868 Ext. 50950
Daniel.Ressegiue@LibertyMutual.com
www.LibertyMutual.com/DanRessegiue

Daniel graduated from The Pennsylvania State University majoring in Psychology and business and is currently finishing an MBA at Monmouth University. During his tenure at Liberty Mutual, he has been awarded many awards including National Rookie of the year special recognition, 5 Time “Pacesetter,” Pursuit of Excellence and is a Liberty Lamplighters Club inductee. During his spare time, he enjoys staying active playing soccer, racquetball and partaking in long distance running competitions.  He is also a member of Jersey Shore Runners Club, Penn State Alumni Association, as well as SCORE, a nonprofit entity dedicated to the mentoring of small business owners.*First Financial Federal Credit Union Client #38361

Article Source: Liberty Mutual Insurance

5 Ways Consumers Can Protect Themselves in 5 Minutes

http://askanesthetician.wordpress.com/tag/ewg/Most consumer protection tips tend to be reactive — telling you how to spot a scam email, for instance, or respond to a collections call. But there are also certain proactive steps you can take right now to head off fraud before it even takes place.

Here are five actions you can take to protect yourself as a consumer, all of which should take less than five minutes to complete.

1. Turn on Two-Step Verification on Your Email

Security experts will tell you that you should have a different password for every online account you open. But anyone who uses the Internet on a regular basis knows that this is virtually impossible — you likely have dozens of accounts ranging from bank accounts to email to social media to news sites, and you access them on multiple devices.

You have a few options here. One is to use a few strong, unique passwords for your most sensitive accounts and then repeat passwords for non-critical accounts. A better choice is to use a password-management tool like LastPass; you’ll only have to remember one master password, and the program will generate high, uncrackable passwords for all of your accounts.

But whichever route you choose, there’s one easy step that you should take now: Enable two-step verification on your email.

Email is in many ways your most important account: When you forget a password to one of your other accounts, the password reset link will be sent to your email. If someone takes over your email, they can reset all the passwords to your other accounts and take them over.

Fortunately, email providers like Gmail now offer what’s known as two-step verification. Enabling this feature means that if someone tries to access your email account from a different computer than you usually use, they’ll need more than just your password — they’ll also need a second one-time password that’s sent to your mobile phone. So unless the hacker has also gotten ahold of your phone, they’ll be unable to get into your account.

Two-factor authentication can be set up in less than 5 minutes. We’d recommend putting it in place for your email and bank accounts.

2. Get on the Do-Not-Call List

If you’re being harassed by a telemarketer, you can always block the call. But let’s be honest: You probably don’t want to hear from any telemarketers, ever, so you might as well exercise your right to block them forever.

If you didn’t get on the do-not-call list when it first came out, don’t fret: You can do it any time, and you can add up to three numbers, including your cell phone. The registration does not need to be renewed unless you get a new phone number.

You can register in less than a minute at DoNotCall.gov or by calling (888) 382-1222. And one final word of warning on the subject: If you get an unsolicited phone call offering to add your number to the registry for a fee, it’s actually a scammer. The government doesn’t allow private companies to register people for the list, and registration is free. Such cons are either trying to make a quick buck, or trying to get you to hand over your personal information.

3. Get a Free Credit Report

According to the FTC, 42 million U.S. consumers have errors on their credit reports they don’t know about. Those errors can lower your score, reduce your eligibility for loans and credit cards, and cost you a good chunk of change on a home loan.

You can’t get rid of those errors until you know about them. Fortunately, you’re entitled to one free credit report every year from each of the major consumer credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). You can get that free credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com.

But keep in mind that getting your credit report once a year arguably isn’t often enough, as you’ll want to dispute erroneous items on your report as quickly as possible.

“We think checking your credit report once a year, an often recommended interval, is insufficient for most people,” says Erik Larson of NextAdvisor, a site that reviews credit cards, Internet providers and other consumer services. “An identity thief can wreak havoc on your credit in a matter of days, much less an entire year.”

With that in mind, Larson recommends signing up for a credit-monitoring service, many of which provide identity theft protection and monthly updates on your credit score.

Are you aware of our latest ID Theft Protection Services? First Financial’s latest ID Theft Protection products can easily be set up, there are options for setting up a credit score tracker, as well as a virtual vault to store your important documents and passwords online, and should an ID Theft incident occur – you’ve got an advocate on your side assisting you every step of the way. Ask us how to get started today!*

As an alternative, you can space out those three free credit reports, one from each bureau, ordering one free report every 4 months. Not quite as proactive a choice as a credit-monitoring service, but it’s free.

4. Set Up Alerts on Your Bank Account

If there’s a fraudulent charge on your bank account or credit card, you have 60 days to spot it and report it. As such, simply looking at your bank and credit card statements every month should still give you enough time to successfully dispute bogus charges and get your money back.

But if someone gets a hold of your credit or debit card number, you really don’t want to let them spend a month running amok. That’s especially true when it comes to fraud on your debit card — if you don’t spot it right away, you could wind up with an empty checking account, leaving you broke until the situation is resolved.

That’s why Miranda Perry, staff writer for online complaint resolution site Scambook, says that consumers should set up alerts on their bank accounts to notify them of unexpected charges.

Financial institutions and credit card issuers have safeguards in place to spot truly unusual activity — a $2,000 shopping spree, for instance, or a sudden charge halfway across the world. But setting up custom alerts allows you to use your knowledge of your own spending habits to provide an extra layer of protection. For instance, if you’re conscientious about keeping account balances over a certain amount, you can set up an alert to trigger any time your balance falls below that level.

The alerts take just a few minutes to locate on your online banking site and set up.  If you have questions about setting up alerts on your accounts within First Financial’s Online Banking, please give us a call to help walk you through the steps at 866.750.0100.

5. Set Up a Google Alert for Your Name

Credit monitoring and bank alerts can help secure you against threats to your finances. But what about threats to your reputation?

Rather than Googling yourself every day looking for any incorrect (or incriminating) information about you, just take 30 seconds to set up a Google alert. Then, any time your name pops up on a blog, news site or other search result, you can get an email.

If you find information about yourself that you’d rather not have floating around the Web, Google provides a basic primer on getting it removed. Understand, though, that you can’t demand that Google remove a search result just because you find it unflattering. Unless the result is somehow in violation of the law or Google’s terms of service, you’ll have to go directly to the website hosting information to request its removal. Only if the page is amended or removed can you then go to Google and request that they remove it from the search results.

Let’s be honest, though – have you checked your social media privacy settings recently? You want to make sure your profiles are not visible to the public to see. As such, one final five-minute task we’d recommend is to manage your privacy settings on Facebook and any other social network where you have a profile.

*Identity Theft insurance underwritten by subsidiaries or affiliates of Chartis Inc. The
description herein is a summary and intended for informational purposes only and
does not include all terms, conditions and exclusions of the policies described.
Please refer to the actual policies for terms, conditions, and exclusions of
coverage. Coverage may not be available in all
jurisdictions. 

Article Source: http://www.dailyfinance.com/2013/03/06/consumer-protection-week-tips-advice/ 

You Thought You Were Safe? 6 Myths and Realities of Online Security

Online-security-is-a-big-deal-for-eCommerce-shoppers-_16000800_800755930_0_0_7073129_300Even at the best of times, surfing the Web involves a delicate dance between security and freedom. After all, while you have the freedom to visit any site in the world, the thought that your favorite website might be infected with malware can put a dent in your plans. And, as the recent furor over the NSA, Prism, and the federal government’s access to our online information has highlighted, when it comes to privacy on the Internet, nobody is completely secure.

For years, security experts have offered a more-or-less unchanging menu of advice. But do things like shredding your documents and changing your passwords really keep you safe? Bo Holland, founder and CEO of identity theft protection company AllClearID shared his thoughts on the most important moves for ensuring your safety … as well as the ones that aren’t quite as important anymore.

  1. Shredding: For years, security professionals have emphasized the importance of shredding your personal documents before you throw them out. But Holland notes that shredding isn’t as much of a priority as it used to be. “There aren’t nearly as many documents with personal information out there as there were even just two years ago,” he explains. “These days, it’s much easier to get your information off your computer.”
  2. Strong Passwords: Passwords are your first line of defense against intruders. But, as Holland points out, even the most careful people sometimes have password breaches. “I’ve helped chief privacy officers from health care and security firms,” he notes. “If they’re getting hit, then anyone is vulnerable.” While Holland notes the importance of having a good password, he emphasizes that the most important thing is paying attention to password breach notifications. If you hear that one of your passwords may have been breached, he counsels, change it immediately. And, because many of your accounts may be linked, he notes, it’s not a bad idea to change the rest of your passwords as well.
  3. Keep on Top of Updates: One piece of advice that you don’t often hear is to keep on top of software updates. But, Holland argues, updating your operating system, your software, and your security programs is one of the easiest and most important ways to ensure your security. Software companies spend a lot of time and money trying to stay ahead of online intruders — it only makes sense to take advantage of their work.
  4. Double-Check Your Financial Institution: Even if you are convinced that your security is state-of-the-art and your password is unbreakable, it never hurts to double-check your most sensitive accounts. Holland suggests regularly checking your financial and credit card statements to ensure that there aren’t any inappropriate charges on your accounts.
  5. Set E-Mail and Text Alerts: When a breach happens, a fast response can mean the difference between a minor annoyance and a major pain in the neck. With that in mind, Holland suggests talking to your financial institution about having transaction alerts placed on your account. Every time your account is credited with a transaction over a particular amount — $50, for example — your financial institutions will send you an e-mail or text notification. If it’s an expected transaction, you can discard the message; if not, you’ll be able to respond immediately. Did you know you can set-up email and text alerts on your First Financial accounts?  To do so, you need to have First Financial Online Banking access.  If you don’t have Online Banking yet, but want to enroll – click here. Login to your Online Banking account and under Preferences, click Alerts.  You can set up various alerts to your accounts by selecting “add alert.”  For example, if you would like to receive a text and email when your checking account reaches $100 or less, you can create this alert and enter your cell phone number and email address.  You can even set up a time to receive the alert, so if you’d like to receive a text message at 8am everyday until your checking account balance is over $100 – you can enable this feature.  It’s as easy as 1,2,3!
  6. Check Your Free Credit Report: Every year, you are entitled to a free credit report from each of the reporting bureaus. Holland suggests taking advantage of this free service, noting that your credit report is a great way to track your outstanding debts and ensure that nobody is trying to open false accounts in your name.

You can monitor your credit score and protect yourself and your loved ones from Identity Theft by opening one of First Financial’s new ID Theft Protection products!

  • ID Theft Protection includes 1 credit bureau monitoring (Your Experian℠ credit report is monitored continuously for new or suspicious activity. If new activity occurs, an alert is sent via email and text message, allowing you to confirm whether or not the activity is fraudulent).
  • First Protection Checking* includes Score Tracker (Synthesizes your credit score from the three major credit reporting bureaus and reflects a historical perspective in a monthly trend report).

For more information or to enroll, click here.

*Click here to view the article source.

*A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account. All personal memberships are part of the Rewards First program and a $5 per month non-participation fee is charged to the base savings account for memberships not meeting the minimum requirements of the Bronze Tier. Click here to view full Rewards First program details, and click here to view the Tier Level Comparison Chart. Accounts for children age 13 and under are excluded from this program. A $100 minimum deposit is required to open this account.

Identity Theft insurance underwritten by subsidiaries or affiliates of Chartis Inc. The description herein is a summary and intended for informational purposes only and does not include all terms, conditions and exclusions of the policies described. Please refer to the actual policies for terms, conditions, and exclusions of coverage. Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions.

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