Important Member Alert: Letters Arriving in Ocean County are Ripoffs

alert-resized-600Forget it, scammer.

We don’t have an unknown relative who died 10 years ago and left $9.2 million unclaimed. And we’re not going to email you back to get more information, either. The letter you sent is going right in the trash. Thanks!

The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office is warning residents of a new bunch of scam letters that are hitting mailboxes. It uses the name of TD Canada along with the TD bank logo to entice people to keep reading.

It’s a version of a classic Nigerian scam in which the fraudsters seeks help moving a vast sum of money. All you need to do is pay some fees or taxes and you’ll get a cut or reward. Don’t do it.

‘Easy money’

“It’s again, the lure of easy money. That’s it,” said Al Della Fave, a spokesman for the Ocean County prosecutor. The prosecutor’s office has received several reports about the letter in the last week.

Former Toms River Mayor Paul C. Brush got a copy and sent it to authorities. “It is an epidemic in this country,” Brush said of scams. “When I saw this letter and how authentic it looked, I decided to send it” to Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato.

The scammer claimed to be from TD Canada and the letter had TD Bank’s green logo, Brush said. But the return address on the envelope was Costco Wholesale.

Fraudsters use symbols of legitimate companies, downloaded off the Internet, to create fake papers. Afterward, they are emailed or mailed as part of a scam to steal personal information or money, the prosecutor’s office said.

The letter told Brush that he had a previously unknown relative by the name of Joe Brush who lived in England. (The letter did strike a chord as Brush’s family background included relatives in England hundreds of years ago.)

“Nevertheless I have contacted you with genuine intentions and I hope I can trust you with this inheritance opportunity which I will explain below,” states the letter from a “Mr. Peter Andrew Timo.”

Next of kin

It turns out a relative died and he found Brush’s address and name in a search for a next of kin. He couldn’t locate other relatives. “Since he is from your country and you both share the same last name, it easy (sic) for you to become his official next of kin,” the letter states. Joe Brush left an account worth $9.2 million, the letter added.

Brush didn’t take it seriously. “It was such an outrageous amount of money that I knew it wasn’t right,” he said.

This guy offered to help Brush list himself as an “extended relative” while he propped up his claim “from the inside.”

“I assure you that this transaction would be handled under due inheritance procedures and every necessary legitimate arrangement will be put in place to make you the real beneficiary of the inheritance funds,” the letter states. It asked that the matter remain confidential until the money is received. (That’s a “huge red flag,” the prosecutor’s office said.)

“Once the funds are released to you, it will be shared between the two of us,” the letter said.

The letter encouraged Brush to send an email to a Gmail address for more information. But he sent it to authorities instead.

“It’s a total ridiculous scam,” Della Fave said.

As always, First Financial continues to monitor our member accounts for suspicious activity. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please give us a call at 866.750.0100 or email us at info@firstffcu.com

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 courtesy of David P. Willis of the Asbury Park Press.

Important Member Alert: AARP Phone Scam

alert-resized-600Did AARP show up on the Caller ID of that scam call you just received?

Don’t believe it. Fraudsters are putting AARP on Caller IDs, along with a number with a 202 area code, to try to convince seniors that their calls are real.

The calls appear to be from someone by the name of Dennis Grey – who leaves a 973 number on a voice message, said Jeff Abramo, a spokesman for AARP New Jersey. AARP’s Fraud Watch received 10 to 12 reports of the calls from New Jersey residents in a two-hour span on Thursday, 1/28.

The caller claims to be from the IRS or U.S. Treasury. “She needed to make a payment or she would be prosecuted,” one victim was told, according to Abramo.

“Please be advised, these calls are NOT legitimate,” AARP New Jersey said on its Facebook page. “They are in no way connected to AARP or to the IRS.”

Of course, this is the latest twist on a scam that has been going around for months and months.

Hang up on IRS telephone scammers. The IRS won’t:

  • Demand payment of tax debt over the telephone.
  • Threaten to have you arrested by the police for not paying.
  • Demand that you pay without giving you the ability to question or appeal how much you owe.
  • Require that you pay using a specific method, such as a prepaid debit card.
  • Ask for credit card or debit card numbers over the phone.

To avoid additional potential fraud and scams this time of year, it is encouraged to also use direct deposit for tax refunds in order to protect yourself and your finances. Here are some key messages and statistics that are important to consider:

  • Eight out of 10 taxpayers get their refunds by direct deposit.
  • Direct deposit is simple, safe and secure.
  • 98% of all federal benefits are made by direct deposit.
  • Direct deposit also saves you money. It costs the nation’s taxpayers $1 for every paper refund check issued, but only about a dime for each direct deposit made.

As always, First Financial continues to monitor our member accounts for suspicious activity. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please give us a call at 866.750.0100 or email us at info@firstffcu.com

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!

Article Source: David P. Willis of the Asbury Park Press, 1.29.16

Important Member Alert: Don’t Fall for EMV Email Scams

3d image Scam issues concept word cloud background

With the new, more fraud-resistant Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) chip in many credit cards, scammers are working a new angle to steal from consumers.

As consumers are anticipating the delivery of new debit and credit cards with the EMV chip, they are being targeted by scammers via emails that look like they are coming from their bank asking for updated personal financial information.

Bonnie Smyre, an Internet security expert explains, “These types of phishing emails have been around for a long time. You might remember the, ‘Hey I’m your long lost relative from a distant country and I left all of my money to you. I just need your banking account info’. Most people read those but said this looks fishy.”

Scammers saw an opportunity to freshen up this scam by contacting consumers about their new EMV chip credit card.

So now scammers are sending much more legitimate emails. It’s hard to tell that they’re fake. They often fake an email address so it looks like it’s from your bank. They use graphics from your bank. It looks very legit then they say, “You need to update your information. Your card is on the way, but before it can take effect – we need your personal and banking information to be updated,” added Ms. Smyre.

Don’t bite. Don’t reply to the email. Don’t click any links. It’s a new twist on an old scam meant to draw consumers in. If you get something like that and have questions about whether your bank or credit union is really trying to contact you, call the number on the back of your credit card or on your bank statement. If you have any questions about your First Financial accounts – please call 866.750.0100 or email info@firstffcu.com

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!

Article Source: New Jersey Credit Union League, Daily Exchange Newsletter from 1.14.16

330,000 Possibly Affected by IRS Data Breach

data breachA breach of an IRS computer database reported in May 2015 affected as many as 330,000 taxpayers, reports said Monday, August 17th.

Reports this past May said that thieves used stolen Social Security Numbers and other information in an effort to access prior-year tax return information for about 225,000 U.S. households. This included about 114,000 successful and 111,000 unsuccessful attempts, the report said.

The IRS has now said a review going back to November 2014 shows that another 390,000 taxpayers may have been affected, new reports say – including some 220,000 households for which prior-year return data may have been accessed and another 170,000 instances where there were attempts that failed to clear the authentication process.

The breaches involved use of an online application, “Get Transcript,” that allowed taxpayers to get prior-year return information, the reports said. This application has reportedly been shut down.

The IRS reportedly also noted that while just a few thousand of affected taxpayer accounts were targeted in efforts to defraud, it thinks hackers may be gathering data to use for fraudulent purposes during the 2016 tax-filing season.

If you suspect that your identity has been compromised, you can place a fraud alert on your credit file by calling any one of the three major credit reporting agencies shown below. A fraud alert is a notation on your credit file to warn credit issuers that there may be a problem. The credit issuer is asked to contact you at the telephone number that you supply to validate that you are the person applying for the credit. This is not the same as credit monitoring.

TransUnion: 1.800.916.8800

Experian: 1.888.397.3742    

Equifax: 1.800.685.1111

In accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, it is permissible for consumers to request a free copy of their credit report once every 12 months from each of the three major credit reporting agencies (TransUnion, Experian and Equifax).

To order a free credit report: 

Online: www.annualcreditreport.com or by Telephone: 1.877.322.8228

First Financial would like to remind our members that your accounts with us are monitored 24/7 by an experienced team of security professionals for any suspicious or potentially fraudulent activity. First Financial employs the most advanced fraud detection and prevention technology to guard members’ accounts against unauthorized access and use. If our security team observes any unusual activity on member accounts, we will contact members immediately to determine whether the transaction activity is legitimate and authorized.

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 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!**

We will continue to monitor all members’ accounts for suspicious activity. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please give us a call at 866.750.0100 or email us at info@firstffcu.com. Thank you for being a valued member of First Financial.

*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.

 

Important Alert Regarding the U.S. Government Data Breach Incident

alert-resized-600It was recently announced that the U.S. Government has suffered a data breach affecting multiple Federal agencies and approximately 4 million individuals. The Federal Government has confirmed that the information hacked could be used to facilitate identity theft and fraud. The individuals affected are government employees and political appointees.

Below are recommended steps to remain vigilant against possible identity fraud:

  1. Be wary of emails or telephone calls that request information. Neither the U.S. Government nor our financial institution will ask you to provide any information in relation to this possible data breach incident.
  2. Check your Account Statements. Review your statements carefully and repeatedly. Any purchases, large or small, should be verified as a purchase you made.
  3. Check Your Mail and Your Email. Look for mail and emails addressed to you that you do not recognize. This may include credit card accounts, medical bills, or notices from companies with which you do not have a relationship.
  4. Get Help. You are not responsible for fraudulent transactions on your account, but you need to notify us as soon as possible if you see any suspicious activity. In addition, if you are concerned about fraud beyond the transactions on your current account, you may have access to an Identity Fraud Protection program that includes Fully Managed Identity Fraud Research, Remediation, and Recovery Services. We will submit your name to our Recovery Care Center and, within 24 business hours, you will be contacted by an Identity Recovery Advocate who will investigate the situation and work on your behalf to remediate any fraud. Contact us with any questions.
  5. Take Action. If you suspect that your identity has been compromised, you can place a fraud alert on your credit file by calling any one of the three major credit reporting agencies shown below. A fraud alert is a notation on your credit file to warn credit issuers that there may be a problem. The credit issuer is asked to contact you at the telephone number that you supply to validate that you are the person applying for the credit. This is not the same as credit monitoring.

TransUnion: 1.800.916.8800

Experian: 1.888.397.3742    

Equifax: 1.800.685.1111

In accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, it is permissible for consumers to request a free copy of their credit report once every 12 months from each of the three major credit reporting agencies (TransUnion, Experian and Equifax).

To order a free credit report:

Online: www.annualcreditreport.com or by Telephone: 1.877.322.8228

First Financial would like to remind our members that your accounts with us are monitored 24/7 by an experienced team of security professionals for any suspicious or potentially fraudulent activity. First Financial employs the most advanced fraud detection and prevention technology to guard members’ accounts against unauthorized access and use. If our security team observes any unusual activity on member accounts, we will contact members immediately to determine whether the transaction activity is legitimate and authorized.

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 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!**

We will continue to monitor all members’ accounts for suspicious activity. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please give us a call at 866.750.0100 or email us at info@firstffcu.com. Thank you for being a valued member of First Financial.

*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.

Local Alert: Skimming Device Found on Brick NJ Bank ATM

Woman entering her PIN at an ATMA skimming device was found on a local ATM in Brick, New Jersey at Ocean First Bank this past weekend.  To read the full article from the Asbury Park Press, click here.

Please be careful of such devices and be sure to protect yourself and your bank account by using the following steps:

  • Use secure ATM machines under video surveillance or inside of a bank lobby. They’re less likely to be tampered with!
  • Pay careful attention to what the card reader and keypad normally look like on the ATMs you use most frequently.
  • Don’t use an ATM if the card reader appears to be added on, fits poorly, or is loose. Some thieves place a fake box over the card slot that reads and records account and PIN numbers.
  • Call the customer service number on the ATM immediately if a machine appears suspicious or if it does not function properly.

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 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.