5 Ways to Stop Identity Theft

As a lot of us have had to find out the hard way, identity theft is a real threat and it can be damaging to your finances and personal life. Make sure you’re doing all you can to keep yourself safe. Here are 5 things you can do to stay protected.

Have secure passwords.

Stop using the word ‘password’ as your password. And don’t use your mother’s maiden name. Create a complex password that only you can remember. For instance, maybe you’re a big Alabama football fan. Use initials, symbols, and numbers to create your password. For example: *BamaWins2018!  Nobody’s going to guess that one. According to howsecureismypassword.net, it would take a computer millions of years to crack that password.

Shred sensitive information.

Your weekly routine probably involves bringing your garbage can out to the street on trash day. Make sure when this happens, you’re not throwing anything away that an identity thief could find valuable. Anything that contains account numbers, banking information, or social security numbers would be a gold mine for a thief. Get online, buy a paper shredder and put it to work. This is the easiest way to help yourself stay protected.

Check your credit report.

If checking your credit report isn’t something you do regularly, you should make it one. If a thief opens up an account in your name, this will affect your credit score and that can be an easy red flag to detect. Try annualcreditreport.com.

Be careful with the internet.

Cybercriminals can get your information a few ways, one of which is phishing. Phishing is when a cybercriminal defrauds you of sensitive information by posing as a legitimate company that you trust. Make sure you never click a link in an email that’s asking you for personal information. You’ll never get an email like this if you didn’t request it, and even then, contact the company and have it verified. Also, make sure you’re not doing sensitive things like logging into your bank website from a coffee shop’s wifi. Wait until you get home to check your account balance.

Monitor your accounts.

It’s important to login to your online banking often, and review each transaction. If you find something that wasn’t purchased by you, contact your financial institution immediately. It’s very important to monitor your accounts regularly and keep a close eye on your money.

Don’t wait until it’s too late! Be sure to enroll in First Financial’s Identity Theft Protection Program from Sherpa today. 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 – so click here to enroll today!

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

What To Do When Your Debit Card is Compromised

Have you ever gotten a letter in the mail from your bank saying that your account may have been compromised? If you’ve ever had this happen before, it elicits all sorts of questions. Was there fraudulent activity on my account? Who ‘may have’ compromised my card, and when? Am I liable financially?

First of all, getting a letter like this doesn’t necessarily mean there was a fraudulent transaction. Your bank is simply following a standard precaution. What it does mean is there was suspicious activity associated with your debit card. Your card number and name might have been obtained by an unauthorized source, usually at a retail location with a card processing system targeted by hackers.

Secondly, your bank may not even know where and when the card was potentially compromised. Master Card, Visa and other card companies don’t usually release this information to the bank unless there’s a massive breach (such as the Target and Home Depot incidents of the last few years). Card companies simply notify the bank of suspicious activity, and your bank follows its standard policy – which is usually to cancel the card number and issue a new one.

Thirdly, even though you don’t know if, when, and where the compromise might have occurred, it’s important to do your own research. Besides credit card companies, banks also monitor account activity. This offers another level of assurance, but you can never be too cautious. We should always keep a close eye on our bank accounts, especially since small, ordinary transactions can be easily overlooked. Hackers often test a stolen card number this way before making major purchases or withdrawals (like dipping a toe in the water to test the temperature before plunging in). So if you do receive a letter like this in the mail, immediately check your account activity. If there are any unauthorized transactions, call the bank and report them.

Lastly, examine your habits for anything that is leaving your card number vulnerable. Have you been using your debit card more than usual? If you make frequent electronic purchases, use a credit card – which at least won’t risk your personal checking and savings accounts getting wiped out.

Along with this, consider the following precautions:

  • When making online purchases, always look for the secure “lock” icon.
  • Listen to your instincts if anything looks fishy about a website you’re entering personal information into.
  • Clear your web browser history frequently. Don’t let your computer save passwords, and delete cookies.
  • Don’t respond to emails requesting verification of personal information. Because of the risks, your bank will never ask you to do this.
  • Be skeptical of application downloads and updates, even if they look legitimate. Scammers are great at creating imitations that install spyware on your computer.
  • Use a quality anti-virus and anti-malware program and make sure it’s enabled to run routine scans.

If you have a First Financial Debit Card – Enroll it in Visa Purchase Alerts today! You’ll get an email each time your Debit Card is used over an amount you set, when your card is used outside the county, or when your card is used to make a purchase online or over the phone.

 Article Source: Jessica Sommerfield for MoneyNing.com

6 Things to Do if Your Identity is Stolen

Smartphone in hand, concept of data protection, blue

The best line of defense against identity theft is prevention, but when that fails you need to handle the situation correctly and swiftly. If you notice any mysterious purchases or your bank contacts you about confirming charges, your account may be compromised. If you believe that someone has stolen your identity, minimize the damage by following these steps.

1. Identify and close the account in question

The most common (and sometimes the only) way to discover compromised accounts is noticing fraudulent charges after they’ve posted. When you become aware of the situation, contact your financial institution as soon as possible, dispute the charges, and ask to either lock or close your account.

2. Look for other unauthorized charges

Next, you need to pull up your other accounts and scan old statements for additional charges you don’t recognize. If you find any questionable charges, call your financial institution and alert them of the problem. You may have to put a lock on a number of your accounts if your identity has in fact been stolen.

3. Review your credit report

When assessing whether you’re a victim of credit card fraud or identity theft, your last stop should be your credit report. By law, you’re entitled to at least one free credit report from each credit reporting agency every year. Request your reports and look for any account that you don’t recognize.

4. File a report with the FTC

After you have a pretty good handle on the extent of your problem, you need to file a report with the Federal Trade Commission. You only need to do this if you think that your identity has been stolen. The FTC doesn’t handle credit card fraud, so if only one account was touched you probably aren’t a victim of identity theft and don’t need to submit a report.

5. Set up a fraud alert

A fraud alert puts a red flag on your credit report and notifies both lenders and creditors that they should take extra steps to verify your identity before extending credit. All you have to do is call one of the three credit reporting agencies to place a 90-day alert on your reports. Don’t worry about any potential stigma that could come with this, it is a rather common practice nowadays.

6. Open new accounts and move forward

Most financial institutions advise opening up new accounts following identity theft, even those that might not have been compromised. After all is done, make sure that you implement preventative measures going forward. There are plenty of ways to make yourself a less likely target and they all take less work than recovering from being a victim.

Don’t wait until it’s too late! Be sure to enroll in First Financial’s Identity Theft Protection Program from Sherpa today. 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 – so click here to enroll today!

Article Source: Tyler Atwell for CUInsight.com

 

5 Things You Should Never Keep in Your Wallet

walletMore than 40% of identity fraud cases stem from a lost or stolen wallet or purse, according to insurance company Travelers’ claim data. If you’re carrying around these things in your wallet, you’re likely putting your identity and finances at risk.

1. Social Security Card

The #1 thing you should never carry in your wallet is your Social Security card.

“Your Social Security Number is the most vital piece of information for identity thieves, and the damage resulting from identity theft can impact your finances for years to come,” said Michael Bruemmer, vice president of consumer protection at credit reporting company, Experian.

If someone gets your number, he or she can use it to apply for credit in your name, file a tax return and claim a refund, or get a job and earn income that’s reported to the IRS — which will create problems for you at tax time, according to the Social Security Administration. For these reasons, losing a Social Security card can be devastating. While you can get a new Social Security Number, you must have evidence that someone is using your current one. However, some government agencies and businesses might still associate you with the old number — even after you make the switch.

2. Birth Certificate or Passport

When you go out, it’s best to leave your birth certificate and passport at home.

“Like your Social Security Number, these items contain some vital, personally identifiable information, and losing these will make it all too easy for thieves to steal your identity,” Bruemmer said.

Unfortunately, more than half of travelers surveyed by Experian said they carry their passports in their wallets. If you’re traveling overseas, opt to leave your passport locked in the hotel safe rather than keeping it with you while you’re out on the town.

3. Extra Credit Cards

A 2015 survey by Experian’s ProtectMyID identity service found that 47% of consumers don’t remove unnecessary credit cards from their wallets before traveling. Carrying numerous cards doesn’t just put you at risk on vacation, though. It’s also a dangerous habit.

“If your wallet is stolen and you have eight credit cards in it, that means you will have to cancel eight credit cards, dispute with eight different card companies if fraud does occur, as well as reset any autopay you had for those eight cards,” Bruemmer said. “The more cards you carry, the more opportunities you are giving a thief to steal your money or information, and the more work you are putting on yourself to reestablish accounts after a theft.”

It is recommended that you only carry your main credit card and perhaps a backup one. Only carry retailer cards in your wallet when you are headed to those specific stores. And make sure you have a record of your credit card account numbers and contact information for each card issuer stored at home, in case a card is stolen.

4. PINs and Passwords

Some people write down their debit card PIN and passwords for accounts in case they forget them and carry them in their wallets. However, this information should always be left at home in a secure place.

“If someone has access to your bank PIN or financial account passwords, they can easily steal money from your accounts or make purchases under your name,” Bruemmer said.

5. Checks

If you prefer writing checks to using a debit card, avoid carrying your entire checkbook around with you. Otherwise, thieves have easy access to your money in the event that your purse or wallet is stolen.

Checking account fraud can be especially difficult to resolve, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. You should report your stolen checkbook to the police and keep a copy of the report to submit to any merchants or financial institutions at which your stolen checks were used.

Unfortunately, putting a stop payment on the checks that were stolen probably won’t be enough to fix the problem. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, you’ll likely need to close your account to prevent further damage.

Don’t wait until it’s too late! Be sure to enroll in our Identity Theft Protection Program from Sherpa today. 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 – so click here to enroll today!

Article Source: Cameron Huddleston for Go Banking Rates, https://www.gobankingrates.com/personal-finance/things-never-keep-wallet/

4 Ways to Avoid Cybercrime When Banking and Shopping on Your Smartphone or Tablet

business man hand use mobile phone streaming virtual business network process diagram

The nature of identity fraud is changing. With the rollout of smart chips in credit and debit cards making it more difficult to steal using cards themselves, thieves have their eyes on your data instead.

If you don’t protect yourself, you could join the 13.1 million Americans Javelin Strategy & Research  reported got hit by identity thieves in 2015.

While mobile banking and payments are certainly making it easier and more convenient to handle one’s finances and conduct business, the same ease and convenience make them a ripe target for criminals, says Madeline Aufseeser, CEO of fraud-prevention company Tender Armor.

“Because merchants are trying to make it easier for consumers to shop online and on their phones, all your credentials are stored online, including payment information, and you don’t even need a basket — just click a button and boom, you get charged. Because they have gone down this path of making things easier to purchase online, it makes it easier for the fraudsters to get to the data,” said Aufseeser.

Consumers are turning to their phones more often to manage their finances, from depositing funds to paying bills to splitting dinner and a movie among friends. Mobile payment apps are growing in popularity, particularly among Millennials.  A 2014 survey by FICO found that 32% of consumers 18 to 34 had used some kind of mobile payment app, and 23% had used a peer-to-peer lending app.  According to consulting firm Accenture, 94% of consumers under 35 access their banking services through the Web and mobile apps.  Accenture also estimates that mobile wallet transactions will explode to 1.31 billion by 2019, up from 240 million in 2014.

Don’t be a victim!  Here are 4 ways to protect yourself and your finances:

Safety tip # 1: Update that OS

People who are not careful about how they use their mobile payment apps, where they use them and how they manage their mobile devices are putting themselves at risk. For starters, avid users of mobile payment services people should always keep their mobile operating system, or OS, up to date. Ignoring updates for Android or iOS means ignoring free security patches for vulnerabilities hackers already know how to exploit.

Safety tip # 2: Update that app

The same goes for the apps themselves — keeping a payment app completely up to date means keeping its security protocols as strong as they can be. Some apps introduce new security features, like biometric sign-in capabilities. Aufseeser stresses the importance of two-factor authentication for passwords and personal information to double down on account protection.

Safety tip # 3: Beware of Wi-Fi

Accessing a mobile banking app or a payment app while on public Wi-Fi also makes it easier for criminals to “eavesdrop” on the information one’s phone is sending and accessing, exposing usernames, passwords and any stored information on the phone — including saved credit or debit card info from payment apps. Consumers with data to spare should limit their use of public Wi-Fi hotspots when accessing sensitive information, checking a bank statement, sending a payment, etc. Keep in mind, fraudsters and hackers can eavesdrop on any information sent over public Wi-Fi, so mind your browsing and emailing in public spaces.

Safety tip #4: Watch out for person-to-person payments

Besides guarding yourself from hackers, you have to be on guard about the people you do business with as well. The wild west of mobile payments has tangible, real-world fraud risks associated with it. The incredibly popular person-to-person payment app Venmo, which processed more than $1 billion in payments in January, has exposed some of the weaknesses in the mobile payment ecosystem.

While users expect their payments to be safe and instantaneous, the reality is more complicated. Payments take time to process, which leaves a period of time during which scam artists can abuse a clause in Venmo’s user agreement that prohibits “business, commercial, or merchant transactions.” The buyer cancels their payment and the seller cannot get the money back because, technically, they broke Venmo’s rules. In short: If you sell something to someone and they take back their payment, you’re out of luck.

This phenomenon is not unique to Venmo — various frauds and scams have plagued person-to-person payment sites and apps since the dawn of the Internet. Fraudsters populate websites like Craigslist and Ebay and use PayPal scams to rip off unsuspecting users, like having a seller send their item to a different address than is listed on the buyer’s PayPal account, effectively voiding any protections from PayPal and allowing the scammer to recall their payment and keep the item. However, as the Consumer Federation of America noted in its March newsletter, there is no federal law that provides payment dispute rights.

Without laws in place, it falls to the company that owns the payment platform to resolve disputes — and when it comes to cybercriminals and fraudsters, they are pretty good at covering their tracks and leaving their victims high and dry. The moral of the story is – be mindful when sending payments with your mobile phone or tablet.

Don’t wait until it’s too late! Be sure to enroll in our Identity Theft Protection Program from Sherpa today. 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 – so click here to enroll today!

Article Source: 

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2016/04/20/security-identity-theft-cybercrime-banking-shopping-mobile-phones/82466908/ by Benjamin Mitchell

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