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Consumer News

Information you can use for your financial future

Ways to prevent "Phishing" from Hooking You

"Phishing" describes a variety of ways that criminals attempt to trick people into giving up confidential information. It can take the form of e-mail requests or fake web pages that include the logo and look of the real institution. They frequently include a link to the phishers website, that may even appear to have the same web address. Here are some tips on how to avoid this form of fraud.

  1. Be suspicious of any email with urgent requests for personal financial information unless the email is digitally signed (you can't be sure it wasn't forged or 'spoofed'). Phishers typically: (1)include upsetting or exciting (but false) statements in their emails to get people to react immediately; (2)ask for confidential information such as usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, social security numbers, account numbers, etc.; and (3)do not personalize the email message (while valid messages from your credit union should be).
  2. Don't use the links in an email to get to any web page if you suspect the message might not be authentic. Instead, call the company on the telephone, or log onto the website directly by typing in the Web address in your browser.
  3. Avoid filling out forms in email messages that ask for personal financial information. You should only communicate information such as credit card numbers or account information via a secure website or the telephone.
  4. Always ensure that you're using a secure website when submitting credit card or other sensitive information via your Web browser. To make sure you're on a secure Web server, check the beginning of the Web address in your browsers address bar - it should be "https://" rather than just http://.
  5. Consider installing a Web browser tool bar to help protect you from known phishing fraud websites.
  6. Regularly log into your online accounts and don't wait for as long as a month before you check each account.
  7. Regularly check your financial institution, credit, and debit card statements to ensure that all transactions are legitimate. If anything is suspicious, contact your financial institution(s) and card issuers.
  8. Ensure that your browser is up to date and security patches applied.
  9. Always report "phishing" or "spoofed" e-mails to the following groups:
    1. forward the email to reportphishing@antiphishing.com;
    2. forward the email to the Federal Trade Commission at spam@uce.gov;
    3. forward the email to the "abuse" email address at the company that is being spoofed;
    4. when forwarding spoofed messages, always include the entire original email with its original header information intact; and
    5. notify the Internet Fraud Complaint Center of the FBI by filing a complaint on their website: www.ifccfbi.gov/.



Fighting ID Theft

If you read the Credit Union newsletter, the newspapers, or watch TV you are aware of the threat of ID theft.  If someone steals your identity it can damage your credit rating and cost you thousands of dollars.  Here are the facts to help fight this crime.


The first step in fighting any type of crime is PREVENTION.  These are just a few of the ways you can help prevent this from happening to you.

bulletGuard your social security number.  Only give it out when there is a legitimate need, such as when applying for a job or for credit.  We advise members to never have their social security number printed on checks.  Consider purchasing a shredder to shred old statements, credit card offer, or anything with confidential information on it.
bulletKeep track of the information on your credit report.  When applying for a loan ask your lender to review the report with you.  If you have not applied for a loan lately, obtain a copy of your credit report from the credit bureau.  A free credit report may be obtained at www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228. Be advised that there are other sites with similar addresses that offer "free" credit reports, but then try to sell expensive services.  If you encounter errors on your report, contact the major credit bureaus at:
bulletEquifax (www.equifax.com)
bulletExperian (www.experian.com)
bulletTrans Union (www.tuc.com)
bulletBe cautious of who you do business with.    With the Internet and toll free numbers you can do business with people all over the world.  That competition is a great way to comparison shop.  Just think about who is on the other end of the transaction before you give out your credit card number.  It might save you money in the long run to use a merchant that you know and trust.

Fight Back

If you discover you are a victim of ID theft call the police.  This is a real crime, just like burglary or assault.  The sooner that you report, the more likely that they can help you.

Contact your credit card issuers.  You are not liable for fraudulent transactions if you report them in the proper amount of time.  Check everywhere you have accounts such as checking, savings, or brokerage accounts to see if anyone has made withdrawals or changed your address.

The credit bureaus will post a notice on your file that you have been a victim of ID theft.  You will need to complete an affidavit prepared by the Federal Trade Commission that is accepted by the credit bureaus.  To find that affidavit go to www.consumer.gov/idtheft/affidavit.htm.

The Federal Trade Commission has set up a hotline for victims of ID theft.  Call them at 1-877-ID-THEFT (1-877-438-4338).

You can also take a quiz to see if you are at risk of identity theft at www.privacyrights.com.

Credit Union Plus is committed to providing members information on how to fight this problem.  Watch this web site and our newsletter for more information.

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Electronic Check Transfers

Electronic check transfers are a new way for merchants to cash your check.  Instead of depositing the check at his bank, a merchant may now present the check electronically.  This saves the merchant money, and it will clear your account sooner.

 When funds are withdrawn electronically from your account it is called a debit.  An electronic check transfer may debit an account from a point of purchase such as when someone buys something at a store.  If a merchant has received a check back for insufficient funds (a bounced check), the merchant can also try to debit the members account.  A third way an account may be debited for an electronic check transfer is when someone authorizes an electronic payment for a bill.  In this case the merchant will request a check number, and that must appear on your statement.

 All of these types of transactions are considered an electronic funds transfer and are covered under the Electronic Funds Transfer Disclosure given by the credit union to all members.  Keep in mind that when you authorize these types of transaction they may clear your account faster than a paper check.  For more information from the Federal Reserve on this topic, go to www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/checkconv/

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