What’s the Most Dangerous Kind of Identity Theft?

6a0154366bdf49970c017d4230dc0a970c-800wiLike the thieves behind the crime, identity theft can take on many disguises depending on the information stolen. When identity theft goes undetected, these crimes can not only cost victims their money, but also their health and well-being.

It’s nearly impossible to avoid identity theft, but awareness and vigilance are key to fixing the problem if you do get hit. As each kind of identity theft could be more deadly than the next, here are three particularly dangerous types of identity theft.

Child ID Theft

  • What makes it dangerous: Thieves often go after children’s identities through stealing data from schools or even taking their relatives’ information. Children will likely not know they were victims until they grow older and are denied for their first loan, credit card or even housing – because of a poor credit history. This blemished credit report could cause them to be denied new lines of credit, which could stunt their financial wealth.
  • How to avoid this identity theft: Check your child’s credit by requesting a free credit report (you can get your own credit reports for free once a year) and dispute and close any unauthorized accounts that were opened.

Medical ID Theft

  • ​​What makes it dangerous: Although consumers may think their medical information is not a target for cybercriminals, healthcare companies are becoming increasingly targeted. Data breaches in the healthcare sector could result in your information falling into the hands of thieves who could then use this data to take advantage of medical services. A report by the Ponemon Institute recently found medical identity theft rose 22% in 2014, resulting in patients’ health information potentially being mixed up with thieves’, which could lead to potentially deadly medical mistakes.
  • How to avoid this identity theft: Always read the data privacy statement your healthcare provider gives you before agreeing to the terms and monitor your accounts in case of fraud.

Tax ID Theft

  • What makes it dangerous: Tax fraud through identity theft is an easy way for criminals to make money. In 2013, the Internal Revenue Service gave out $5.8 billion in fraudulent tax refunds.
  • How to avoid this identity theft: File your income taxes early each tax season and shred any and all documents with your personal information on it.

While medical identity theft is dangerous in almost every aspect of your well-being – from a health to a financial standpoint – these other types of identity theft could also pose a threat to your or your loved ones’ futures. By protecting your personal information, you could help curb this crime and keep yourself from becoming a victim. Any large, unexpected changes in your score could signal new-account fraud and a sign that other serious forms of identity theft are on the way.

Be sure to enroll in our newest, upgraded Identity Theft Protection Program from Sherpa – don’t wait until it’s too late! The best part? You can enroll right online, 24/7. You can trust in First Financial and Sherpa to help keep your personal information protected. Packages begin at just $5.99 per month – click here to enroll today!

*Original article source written by Patricia Oliver of USA Today.

Warning: Children Can Be Exposed to ID Theft Through Data Breaches

Saving money in a piggybankAdults aren’t the only ones who can have their identity stolen. Tens of millions of American children had their Social Security Numbers, datea of birth and health care ID numbers stolen in the recent data breach at health insurance giant, Anthem Inc. Criminals can now use those stolen Social Security numbers to open accounts, get medical treatment, commit tax fraud, and so on.

Because the children’s information was linked to their parents’ data, it can also make it much easier for cybercriminals to commit fraud against their parents as well, said Tim Rohrbaugh, chief experience officer at Identity Guard.

The Social Security Number was never supposed to be used as a national identifier, but it’s become that. For an identity thief, that nine-digit number is the key that unlocks your life. A child’s SSN is even more valuable. Here’s why: for most minors, their number is pristine – it’s never been used and is not yet associated with a credit file. That means there’s very little chance that the credit reporting agencies are monitoring it.

A criminal can take that stolen number, combine it with someone else’s name, address and birth date to create a fake ID that can be used for fraudulent purposes. All too often, this fraud is not detected until the child reaches legal age and applies for a student loan or tries to get a credit card. By that time, their credit history is ruined and it could take years to undo the damage.

Parents need to be on guard

“Now it’s really all about detection,” said Eva Velasquez, president and CEO of the non-profit Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC). “Parents need to keep an eye out for any red flags that signal their child’s stolen Social Security Number has been used by a thief.”

Those warning signs include:

  • Collection calls or notices for a debt incurred in your child’s name
  • Mailings that would generally be for someone over the age of 18, such as pre-approved credit card offers, jury duty notices, or parking tickets
  • An insurance bill or explanation of benefits from a doctor listing medical treatments or services that did not take place
  • A notice from the IRS that your child’s name and/or Social Security Number is already listed on another tax return

The ITRC has prepared A Guide for Parents – Child Identity Theft Indicators that lists many more red flags.

Fraud experts encourage all parents to check to see if their underage children have credit reports. All three of the major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, allow parents to do this at no cost.

“If they have [a credit report], it could be an indicator of fraud. If not, you probably don’t have anything to worry about,” said Experian spokesman Rod Griffin. “If your child has a credit history and you don’t know why, you should be very concerned.”

In that case, you should put a “freeze” on any fraudulent credit files – it’s free, so that those files cannot be used to commit more financial fraud using your child’s stolen identity. Then you’ll need to work with the credit bureaus to remove the false information from that account. The Identity Theft Resource Center can help guide you through the process. Be advised that once your child becomes an adult, you’ll need to contact the bureaus to get the freeze lifted or they won’t be able to get any credit cards or loans.

Parents should do this fraud check once a year until their children become adults and can then check their own credit history. Finally, don’t think you’re safe because you don’t have Anthem. Remember, there are many other ways a crook can snag your child’s Social Security number.

Think you don’t need identity theft protection?  Think again. 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 and you can try it FREE for 90 days!*

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 enroll today!**

*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. **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: Herb Weisbaum for NBC News, http://www.nbcnews.com/business/personal-finance/millions-children-exposed-id-theft-through-anthem-breach-n308116

 

 

 

How to Protect Your Credit Card From a Data Breach

hackedEven if you’re not one of the 40 million Target shoppers whose credit or debit card information was stolen Nov. 27 to Dec. 15, 2013, you’ve most definitely heard of the data breach by now. With the list of hacked companies, websites and apps growing longer, it’s time to take a serious look at credit card security and what you can do to stay safe online. Let’s run through the basics of credit card companies’ fraud prevention methods, and what you can do to protect yourself.

How credit cards work:

Your credit card has a lot of information that can be used to verify its authenticity: an expiration date, a three-digit security number and your name. There’s also a magnetic strip on the back of the card that contains all of that information and more. When you swipe your credit card, the information on the magnetic strip gets transmitted to a third party, who then verifies with your financial institution that all your information is correct, and approves the transaction.

There are other authentication methods, such as checking your signature or asking to see an ID, but not every merchant takes these steps. Additionally, if you’re making an online purchase, you might be required to input the three-digit number called the card verification value, or CVV, as well as the card number and expiration date. Merchants aren’t permitted to store the CVV in their databases in an effort to keep that information away from hackers. Therefore, merchants ask you to enter your CVV to prove that you actually have the physical card.

What about the rest of the world?

America lags behind the rest of the world in terms of credit card security techniques. We use magnetic strips to hold our data, whereas other countries use EMV chips. These chips use a different (some say better) method of encrypting data. While magnetic strips have the same encryption method, the method for EMV chips varies, making them harder to hack. This has produced dramatic results on point-of-sale transactions. For example, the United Kingdom rolled out EMV technology in the 2000s and saw fraud rates drop by 63 percent between 2004 and 2010, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. The United States is moving closer to widespread EMV adoption, but for now, we’re still using our old magnetic strip cards.

How can I keep my data safe?

Here are a few ways to protect your credit card data beyond the encryption methods offered by merchants:

  • Make sure you sign the back of your credit card – if you don’t, your fraud liability might be higher.
  • When making online purchases from your computer or phone, make sure the web address starts with “https” instead of “http.” The “s” means the site is secure.
  • Use a personal finance service like Mint.com to instantly see which transactions have been made on which card.
  • Shred credit card statements and anything that has your credit card number or personal information on it.
  • Be wary of making online purchases on a public Wi-Fi connection – they’re easy to hack. If you find yourself using public Wi-Fi often, consider getting a VPN, which is more secure.

But don’t worry too much.

While credit card fraud is a hassle to deal with, your liability is limited. By law, you’ll never be on the hook for more than $50 if your credit card is stolen and the thief racks up charges. You’re also not liable for any purchases made after you report the card lost or stolen. In the wake of the Target data breach, it’s reassuring to know that you have no liability if your card information, rather than the card itself, is stolen. Finally, many credit cards offer zero-liability policies that provide better protection than the law requires.

If you ever fall victim to a Target-like data breach, call your financial institution right away to report the incident. Don’t panic, though – federal law gives you quite a bit of protection!

After the recent credit card data breaches, this is the perfect opportunity to enroll in First Financial’s ID Theft Protection Services. Our ID Theft Protection services can easily be obtained, 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 ever occur – you’ve got an advocate on your side assisting you every step of the way. Ask us how to get started today by calling 866.750.0100 or emailing info@firstffcu.com!*

Article by Anisha Sekar of US News. 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 informal 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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Debit vs Credit Cards: Which is safer to swipe?

holiday-credit-or-debitWhile the tens of millions of Target shoppers who had their credit and debit card information stolen likely won’t be on the hook for any fraudulent transactions that may occur, debit card users could face much bigger headaches than credit card users.

That’s because debit and credit cards are treated differently by consumer protection laws. Under federal law, your personal liability for fraudulent charges on a credit card can’t exceed $50. But if a fraudster uses your debit card, you could be liable for $500 or more, depending on how quickly you report it.

“I know people love their debit cards. But man oh man, they are loaded with holes when it comes to fraud,” said John Ulzheimer, credit expert at CreditSesame.com, a credit management website.

Plus, if someone uses your credit card, the charge is often credited back to your account immediately after it’s reported, Ulzheimer said. Yet, if a crook uses your debit card, not only can they drain your bank account, but it can take up to two weeks for the financial institution to investigate the fraud and reimburse your account.

“In the meantime, you might have to pay your rent, your utilities and other bills,” said Beth Givens, director of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. The organization recommends that consumers stick to credit cards as much as possible.

Whichever card you decide to swipe, here are ways to protect yourself from scammers.

Be vigilant with your accounts: The Target hack is just the latest in a long history of data breaches, and it likely won’t be the last.

As a result, you should check your debit and credit account activity at least every few days and keep an eye out for any unfamiliar transactions. If you notice anything fishy, notify your financial instituion or credit card company immediately.

“Waiting until the end of the month to check out your credit card statement for fraudulent use is a relic of the past,” Ulzheimer said. “Fraud is a real-time crime, and we as consumers have to be constantly engaged.”

Set your own fraud controls: Financial institutions have their own internal fraud controls, but some transactions can slip through the cracks, said Al Pascual, senior analyst of security risk and fraud at Javelin Strategy & Research.

Many financial institutions will let you set alerts for account transactions. Even better, some allow you to block transactions that are out of the ordinary for you, such as for online purchases at a certain kind of retailer or for any purchases over $500.

“We believe that consumers are going to know best as to how to protect their account,” he said. “They know their own behaviors.

Did you know that First Financial has ID Theft Protection services? When you enroll in one of these services, one of the benefits you’ll receive is an automatic alert sent to you via email and text message, allowing you to confirm whether or not any recent activity is fraudulent. With Fully Managed Identity Recovery services from First Financial, 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. Click here to learn more and get started today!

Watch out for fraud hotspots: You should be especially wary of using a debit card online and at retailers more vulnerable to fraud.

Gas stations and ATMs are hotspots for so-called “skimmers,” or machines that scammers install to capture your card information. Watch out for ATM parts that look unusual and always cover your hand when typing your PIN in case a camera is watching, said Shirley Inscoe, a senior analyst with the Aite Group.

Don’t let your guard down: If you think your information has been compromised, don’t assume everything’s fine after a few months. Stolen card information is often sold to a variety of groups on the black market who may hold onto it for months or even years.

“Many times these fraud rings will wait until the news dies down and people have forgotten about it before they use that data,” Inscoe said. “It may not be used until next winter, so it really is a good idea for people to monitor their activity.”

If you fall victim to ID Theft, don’t panic – First Financial is here to help! Report the incident regarding any of your First Financial accounts immediately, by calling us at 866.750.0100 or emailing info@firstffcu.com

*Article by Melanie Hicken of Yahoo Finance – click here to view the article source.

Protecting Yourself From Holiday Fraudsters

HolidayMailTheftThe holiday season is here and you’re beginning to spend your hard-earned money while shopping online, by phone, or in stores—and fraudsters are on the prowl, ready to steal your cash and personal information. Don’t let these criminals get away with ruining your financial security.

We encourage you to protect yourself against fraud now before it’s too late. Below are some easy strategies you can use to help better detect and avoid falling victim to fraud and identity theft.

  • Review Credit Reports at Least Once a Year. This will help ensure fraudulent accounts have not been opened using your personal information. Additionally, the Fair Credit Reporting Act entitles consumers to a free credit report once a year from each of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies. You can receive your report by contacting the credit reporting agencies directly or by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com.
  • Shred Documents with Personal and Financial Information. Financial statements, credit card offers and billing statements are examples of documents you should be shredding. Consider going to a local shred day in your area so you can safely discard your personal and financial records.
  • Monitor Financial Statements and Online Banking Regularly. You should get into the routine of checking your statements and periodically reviewing your account transactions and online activities. This will help identify unauthorized account activities early, preventing potential losses to your personal accounts.
  • Ensure Children Understand What Information to Provide Online. Fraudsters will often use a game or a free offer that will request personal information, or will include spyware to track and steal information from your computer or mobile device. Protect yourself by encouraging your children to limit online contact to friends they actually know, setting privacy controls to restrict access to private information, and enabling parental controls that allow access to only trusted sites. It is also a good idea to talk to your children about not giving out their name, address, date of birth, or any other personal information online without talking to you first.
  • Beware of Downloading Sneaky Apps. Smartphone or social networking applications may provide application developers with access to your personal information, such as messages, contacts, emails and photos. Often, this information isn’t related to the application’s purpose. Instead developers may share the information with marketers or other third parties. Be sure to read the privacy policy of each application before downloading to understand what private information you’re sharing.
  • Look Out for Scams Involving Social Engineering. Fraudsters may impersonate a credit union (or other legitimate organizations) to trick you into giving out personal account information. This social engineering tactic is often utilized as part of an elaborate scheme involving phone calls, emails, text messages and other forms of communication. Keep in mind that you should never reply to unsolicited telephone, email, text or pop-up messages asking for personal account information. It is important to understand legitimate organizations never ask for sensitive information over unsecured communication channels. Click here to view some important articles with tips and advice about how you can protect yourself from fraud. Remember, a fraudster’s greatest advantage is your lack of knowledge and awareness – so get educated!
Check out our ID Theft Protection products – with Fully Managed Identity Recovery services from First Financial, 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 enroll today!*

* 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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“Tis the Season”…..Protect Your Family NOW

Santa-caption2Don’t look now, but identity thieves are gearing up for the holidays just like you. They know that transactions are flying around and everyone is looking for great deals. A “perfect storm” for prying on people and catching you off guard because “it’s the holidays”!

There are so many ways for thieves to steal personal information and unfortunately they know that during the holidays people tend to be easy targets. According to the “McAfee Highlights of the Top 12 Scams of Christmas” the schemes used by thieves can be as simple as selling “bogus gift cards” online or as sophisticated as setting up “fake charities”.

The simple fact is that we can’t be “on-guard” all the time and there are far too many ways that you and your loved ones could be subjected to one or more of these scams. Many of these scams lead to identity theft events that can be very harmful. So how does anyone feel completely safe from these crafty identity thieves? Make a small investment and obtain the ultimate safety net…purchase high quality, identity theft recovery and restoration services like we offer here at First Financial. It is much less expensive than monitoring services (which you can actually do quite easily yourself), and provides the greatest form of ultimate protection.

As you’ve just learned, identity thieves go into a frenzy during the holiday season and it can happen to anyone, anywhere – regardless of how careful you are, your age, income, or where you live — so don’t wait until you become a victim and do something to protect yourself! First Financial has arranged with Santa to obtain this kind of service for members from a top quality company that has been in business almost as long as Santa himself. This deal is better than any other you’ll find under the tree this year.

With Fully Managed Identity Recovery services from First Financial, 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 enroll today!*

*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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