3 Consumer Scams to Be Aware Of

New twist on an old phone scam:

Phone scams are nearly as old as Alexander Graham Bell, but fraudsters have invented a new trick to beware of. It’s called the “can you hear me” con.

Scammers will call your phone and ask if you can hear them, but if you answer yes, they’ll record you and use it as “proof” that you signed up for whatever fraudulent service they’re offering.

The safest thing you can do if you receive one of these calls is to simply hang up, or if you don’t know the number – don’t answer it in the first place.

When heart meets wallet – dating scam:

Nothing says I love you less than an empty bank account, yet that might be your fate if you go looking for love in all the wrong places.

According to the FBI, scammers are preying on people’s hearts and wallets in a new growing trend called romance scams. It starts off simply enough — you meet someone through the service that seems a likely match and contact is made. Things intensify quickly. It seems like a dream romance. It’s not.

Beware of anyone you meet through online dating services who asks for financial gifts or favors (even if he or she is the “love of your life.”) This could be a play to get access to your checking account.

These scammers will leave you broke and broken hearted if you’re not careful. Use your head and be a bit suspicious. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Don’t fall for the bait with phishing:

The chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, fell for a phishing scheme when he reportedly received an email from Google asking him to verify his account.

Unfortunately, the email wasn’t from Google, but was from a scammer — a scammer who now had all the info he needed to hack this Google account.

Software like Photoshop makes it easy for even a mediocre hacker to convince you that they are with a trusted organization like Google, your bank, or another company who handles sensitive matters for you.

Before you give over info, even basic info – remember the painful lesson learned: email isn’t secure. Never share sensitive information over email.

If you think you are the victim of a scam, 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: Jennifer Reynolds for CUInsight.com

4 Signs That a Charity is Probably a Scam

Many of us donate to a worthy cause year round. Unfortunately, just as there are good people trying to help others, there are also plenty of scammers out there. You want to feel good about where your money is going, and you want to make sure that you aren’t just lining the pockets of some fraudster. As you field phone calls and receive information from those purporting to help the less fortunate, watch out for the following red flags that might indicate you are dealing with a scam:

1. High-Pressure Phone Tactics

Someone insisting that you give money now, over the phone, is a huge red flag that you are probably dealing with a scam. Most legitimate charities don’t employ high-pressure sales tactics that make you feel like you need to donate immediately.

In some cases, scammers insist that you have to just donate, and they tell you time is too short to send you literature or let you look at a website. If a caller gets frustrated and tries to tell you that you need to donate immediately, hang up the phone.

Legit charities usually have no problem with you saying no. The caller might tell you they are under a deadline for a match, but they won’t pressure you, and once you say you need time to think about it, most legit charities will thank you and move on.

2. No Website

Who doesn’t have a website these days? Scammers, that’s who. If you get a phone call from an organization, and you can’t find a website, that’s a red flag. Most legit charities have websites that describe their mission, who they help, and even include success stories. Even local charities usually have a basic website that allows you to see where they are located and what their needs are.

If an organization doesn’t have a website, that’s an immediate red flag. That’s not to say that every worthy cause would have a website, but it simply means you need to investigate further. Legit charities want people to know they are out there and accept donations.

3. They Won’t Provide You with Their Tax ID

Charities have to apply to be tax-exempt organizations and you can call IRS to verify their legitimacy. If someone over the phone just cannot provide their Tax ID or there’s no way to find that out before you send money, then this is a major red flag. And it’s not totally safe just because they gave you a bunch of numbers either. Call 877-829-5500 to see if the charity is claiming to be who they are. This is also the definitive source for making sure your donation is tax deductible.

4. No One Wants to See You

Watch out if a caller doesn’t want to let you know where they are located. Ask to stop by if they claim to be local. Or, you can ask for a mailing address to send a donation. Legitimate charities are happy to let you have a tour or send them a donation through the mail.

Scammers, though, don’t usually have a mailing address. And they certainly don’t want you anywhere near their base of operations. When an organization comes up with an excuse as to why you can’t visit or send a donation to an address, you should watch out. There’s a good chance you’re dealing with a scammer.

If you are still unsure, you can check Charity Navigator or GuideStar for information about charities and how effective they are, including how much of their resources go toward actually helping others.

There are many worthy causes that deserve your dollar’s attention, but you need to pay attention in order for the real charities to benefit the world. Do your part by taking time to vet out the details and you won’t be sorry to hear that your donations only enriched someone without really helping those in need.

Article Source: Miranda Marquit 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 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 Surprising Ways Your Identity Can Be Stolen

Smartphone in hand, concept of data protection, blue

Your phone’s SIM card could be taken. This is a hacking con in which a criminal uses a SIM reader or scanner to copy the information on your SIM card, a memory chip in your mobile phone. Once a thief has the code to your SIM card, they can copy it and basically use your phone’s information to make phone calls for free. Well, it isn’t free of course. You get to pay for those calls. Be wary of where you leave your mobile phone.

You could fall prey to visual hacking. This is when you are hacked by someone who spies your computer screen and steals information.

Given how easily strangers can come in contact with us at work – and in life, it’s worth thinking about. It’s also easy to imagine a thief pulling out a smartphone and taking a close-up photo of someone’s driver’s license, credit card or bank statement and slipping away without anyone being the wiser.

A spokeswoman for the Visual Privacy Advisory Council, suggests putting privacy filters and screen protectors on computer monitors, tablets and smartphones. That way, you can see what’s on your screen, but someone next to you, say on an airplane, can’t. And for those who are really worried, there are software filters that use facial recognition to recognize the computer user.

Someone could kidnap your digital identity. It may not be as troubling as getting your Social Security Number or credit card stolen, but it’s easy to imagine how someone could do a lot of damage to your reputation and more in this realm (i.e.; pretending to be you on Twitter).  Be sure to keep an eye out for this and review your security settings, along with changing your password frequently.

You could meet an old school thief. You might think that going off-the-grid has never sounded better. Give up an online presence. Get a landline. Just use cash. But you still need to be careful not to overlook old fashioned methods of identity theft.

One idea – if you use a check book, you may want to leave it at home and put a blank check in your wallet, if you’re going to be writing a check later in the day.  Just make sure your wallet isn’t left somewhere it can be swiped. Or photographed.

Don’t wait until it’s too late! Check out First Financial’s ID Theft Protection products – click here to learn more.

Article Source: Geoff Williams for http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2015/06/09/4-surprising-ways-your-identity-can-be-stolen

10 Signs You Might Be a Victim of Identity Theft

download (1)Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the country, with almost 10 million incidents a year. In fact, every minute, 19 people become victims, and the average cost to the victim is about $500 and 30 hours. ​

Those are some scary stats. The good news is that you can protect yourself by catching potential problems early and enlisting the support of your financial institution. Here are some tips for keeping your identity out of thieves’ hands:

  1. If you lose your credit card, let your card issuer know right away. Not only will the issuer cancel the card and get a new one with new numbers right away, but the customer service representative will let you know if any erroneous charges have already been made on the card and can ​prevent any new ones from going through.
  2. Avoid using ATMs in obscure locations because it’s easier for thieves to install “skimming” devices on them that steal your information when you swipe your card. According to Shaun Murphy​, founder of PrivateGiant, a company that seeks to protect personal information online, consumers should also avoid using their card on websites that do not have the “lock” icon in the browser, because they aren’t as secure as sites that have the icon.
  3. Check your account statements for errors. This is likely the first warning sign you’ll encounter. When checking your statement, you might see an unexplained or inaccurate entry – such as a withdrawal, a check, an electronic transaction or a purchase that you don’t recognize.
  4. Look for mistakes on your credit report. You can request a free copy of your credit report through annualcreditreport.com and review it for any inaccurate information. The most common indicators of identity theft include a credit inquiry you don’t recognize or a new account you didn’t open. That could suggest someone else is impersonating you. Let the credit bureaus know about any errors so the false information can be removed.
  5. Respond to calls from your financial institution. Financial institutions are constantly on the lookout for strange charges on your account; in fact, they might notice a problem before you do. If you receive a notice about a potential problem, be sure to call them back to sort it out. If the message comes in the form of an email, make sure it’s not a phishing email (where a fraudster masquerades as a trusted entity to try to acquire your personal information).
  6. Follow up on odd bills you receive. If you start getting calls from debt collectors related to accounts that don’t belong to you, or you receive bills for medical treatments you’ve never had, then someone else could be using your identity and your health insurance information. Follow up with the provider and your insurance company to protect your account.
  7. Stay on top of missing mail. If you don’t receive your bank statement by mail and you usually do, there could be a problem. The perpetrator may have changed your address with the financial institution. If other pieces of mail are missing, it may mean the perpetrator is collecting information about you to develop a profile. Similarly, if you don’t receive your email statement, someone may have conquered your online account and altered the settings to lock you out. Follow up directly with your financial institution or the biller to get the problem fixed ASAP.
  8. You receive unexpected mail. You might get a notice from the post office that your mail is being forwarded to another address when you haven’t requested an address change. Or you receive a letter concerning an account you never opened. Other mailings that could be a sign of identity theft: You receive a credit card in the mail that you never applied for or the IRS notifies you about unreported wage income you didn’t earn. If you find yourself in any of these situations, then it’s time to follow up with the institution sending the mail to clarify the issue.
  9. Look out for errors on your Social Security statement. If the earnings reported on your statement are greater than your actual earnings, someone might have stolen your Social Security Number and is using it for wage reporting services. It’s another red flag that there could be a problem that needs your attention.
  10. Investigate if you’re denied an application based on your credit. If you have good credit but are denied an application for a new credit card or a loan, that may indicate that your identity has been stolen. It’s time to pull your credit report and do a full review of all your accounts to get to the bottom of the problem.

With these strategies in hand, you can help reduce your chances of becoming a victim of identity theft.

Don’t wait until it’s too late! To learn more about our ID Theft Protection products, click here and enroll today.

This article is courtesy of US News: Money.