Fraud Protection Center
Protecting Your Privacy, Your Identity, and Your Money
At the IDB Global Federal Credit Union, Security over Member Information and Accounts is fundamental. Our job and responsibility is not only keeping your assets and personal information safe, but also ensuring that you know how to protect them with everyday decisions.
It is more important than ever to understand the different types of fraud, and what you can do to prevent yourself from becoming a victim. The following is some essential information to help you protect yourself against multiple types of fraud.
What's worse than debt collectors? fake debt collectors
How to avoid phony debt collectors and fraudulent robocalls.
Home mortgage, car loans, credit cards. If you’re like most people, your life requires you to carry some kind of debt. And whether you’ve never missed a payment, or are a little behind, you could be targeted by fake debt collectors.
These criminals threaten to ruin your credit, place you in bankruptcy, or worse. They use tactics like threats, lies, inflated amounts owed, and more to get you to pay fake debts or give up sensitive personal and financial information. Falling victim to these scammers can cost you big time.
Fortunately, real debt collectors must follow rules, enforced by the Fair Trade Commission (FTC). So, with a little caution, it’s easy to spot fraudsters and stay safe.
7 Telltale Signs of a Fake Debt Collector
Use of profane language or threats of violence. If a debt collector swears at you or threatens you with violence of any kind, it’s a sure sign that they’re a fraud -- or at the very least an unscrupulous debt collecting agency. Either way, you have rights. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits the use of obscene language or violent threats.
Repeated calls or calls at unreasonable hours. We’ve all had those calls late at night or early in the morning, or the number that pops up four times a day. It’s frustrating, and possibly illegal. The FDCPA prohibits repeated calls and calls before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. If this happens to you, it could be a scammer.
Threats of jail time. In years past, debtors prison was indeed real. Thankfully, it’s not now. Sure, debts to the criminal justice system could result in incarceration, but not from private businesses, banks, credit card companies, etc. So, don’t be intimidated, be wary. When a debt collector threatens jail time, odds are he is the one at risk for it.
Pressure to pay with a money transfer or prepaid card. Again, this is not a sure sign of a scammer, but it is a reason to be very wary. Scammers like these payment methods because it’s very difficult for you to get your money back when you discover you’ve been duped.
Withholding information from you. Legitimate debt collectors must tell you basic information such as the name of the creditor, the amount you owe, and that they must obtain verification of the debt if you dispute it. If they don’t provide this information the first time they speak to you, they must send you a written notice within five days. It’s the law.
Threatening to tell family, friends or work about your debt. There are strict federal laws about what debt collectors can discuss with third parties. For instance, debt collectors can contact family and friends, but only to get your phone number, address or where you work. They cannot tell them about your debt. So, if the debt collector on the phone threatens this, they are a fake, or threatening to break the law.
Requests for sensitive financial or personal information. It’s a very good rule of thumb to never give information such as your bank account number or social security number to a caller until you are absolutely certain they are legitimate. If you have any doubt, hang up and call the creditor of the debt you owe. That way, you know exactly who you are speaking with.
How to Deal With a Suspicious Debt Collection Call
Ask the caller for his name, company information and a “validation notice.” Through the FDCPA a creditor must send you a validation notice that tells you the name of the creditor you owe, the amount you owe, and your legal rights. Tell any debt collector that you refuse to discuss any debt until you receive this notice.
Stop speaking with the caller. If you suspect you are dealing with a scammer, or an unscrupulous debt collector, and you have an address, send a letter demanding that the caller stop contacting you and save a copy of the letter. By law, real debt collectors must stop calling you if you ask them to in writing.
Contact the creditor directly. If you believe the debt is legitimate, but the debt collector is not, hang up and contact the creditor directly. You can either work with them or they can give you the name of the legitimate debt collection agency they referred your case to. Either way, you know it’s not a scam and you can move forward with confidence.
Robocalls: The 21st Century Scam
Robocalls. We’ve all gotten them. They’re very annoying, very persistent, and a little weird. Robocalls are recorded messages, usually telling you that your car warranty needs updating, about “great” investment opportunities, or about a debt you supposedly owe. Often, they have one thing in common: They’re a scam to get your money or personal information.
They are also becoming more prevalent every year. This is because internet-powered phone systems have made robocalls cheap and easy for scammers to make. They can easily hide their location and display fake caller ID information.
But instead of hanging up, you can be part of the solution by filing a complaint.
Unwanted and illegal robocalls are the number one complaint to the FTC, with millions of complaints already filed. This information helps create call-blocking “blacklists.” In addition, the FTC has filed more than 100 lawsuits, encouraging efforts against caller ID spoofing, and have even launched contests that challenge tech gurus to come up with blocking tools.
Until they are successful, however, remember to stay on guard and follow the same caution that you would with any potential scam.
Remember, fake debt collectors, whether live or using robocalls, rely on fear and confusion to cheat you out of your money. But you have rights. So stay calm and the and time to verify the legitimacy of any claim.
For the latest information on frauds and scams, visit the IDB Global Federal Credit Union Online Fraud Center at our website. If you receive a suspicious request for your IDB Global Federal Credit Union account information, immediately contact the credit union at email@example.com or 202-623-3363.
And as always, if you have any questions about this or other topics, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re here for you.
Staying Safe online during tax season!
Now that W-2s are arriving, it’s time to consider how to stay safe from tax season scams. Every year while filling their returns, taxpayers are shocked to find that someone else has filed a fraudulent one in their name! Sadly, tax fraud has only become more widespread and digital communication has opened new ways for it to happen. In order to protect you from tax fraud, today we’ll be discussing how to identify tax scams, and techniques you can use to stay safe during tax season.
How is Tax Fraud Perpetrated
According to cisesecurity.org, a great deal of your personal information can be gathered from multiple locations online with almost no verification. Criminals know this, so they use this trick to get your personal information from a variety of websites and use the information to file a fraudulent tax refund request. If a criminal files a tax return in your name before you do, they will file it with false information to get a large refund, forcing you to go through the arduous process of proving that you did not file the return and subsequently correcting the return. While the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reports on multiple tax-payer related scams, three scam variants are worth highlighting:
- Phishing and Malware Schemes
The goal of phishing and malware is to trick you into entering your login credentials, verifying sensitive personal information, or downloading malware. The criminals may send a phishing message indicating that a new copy of your tax form(s) is available. These convincing emails often impersonate state, local, tribal, and/or IT departments, and then direct you to websites that appear to be IRS, state government, tax software, or financial institutions. They might include a link to a phishing website that uses your organization’s logo with a convincing signature line in the email. If you fill out or attempt to login into the phishing website, the criminals will be able to see your login name and password, which they can then use to try to compromise your other accounts.
- Identity Theft and Falsely Filed Tax Returns
A popular scam from last year’s tax season involved impersonating an executive and using a compromised or spoofed email account to obtain W-2 information from an HR professional within the same organization. Individual taxpayers are targeted in these tax scams, but criminals have also evolved their tactics to focus on mass data thefts. The more information they gather about you, the easier it is for them to use the information to file a fake tax return in your name. Once criminals have your information, they can also continue to commit identity theft well beyond tax season.
- Impersonations Scams
Finally, criminals can perpetrate scams by impersonating the IRS or a tax official, such as a tax advocacy panel or tax preparer. They may say you owe money to the IRS or your state tax department or may represent themselves as a trusted tax authority and request information. This contact can occur through websites, emails, or threatening calls or text messages that seem official.
These tax fraudsters impersonating IRS officials may also threaten you with penalties if you do not make an immediate payment. Sometimes, criminals request their victims pay the “penalties” via strange methods such as gift cards or prepaid credit cards. If you are not expecting a call from the IRS, the person on the other side of the phone claiming to be an IRS officer is most likely a fraud. If you get such a call, it is important not to engage at all and resist the pressure to act quickly. Instead, go ahead and report the contact to TIGTA at http://www.treasury.gov/tigta by clicking on the red button, “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting.” It is important to remember:
• The IRS will not initiate contact about payment with taxpayers by phone, email, text messages, or social media without sending an official letter in the mail first.
• The IRS will not call to demand immediate payment over the phone using a specific payment method such as a debit/credit card, a prepaid card, a gift card, or a wire transfer.
• The IRS will not threaten to immediately notify local police or other law-enforcement agencies to have you arrested for not paying.
• The IRS will not demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount you owe.
What Can You Do?
Here are some basic tips from cisecurity to help you minimize the chances of becoming a victim of a tax scam:
• File your tax return as soon as you get your W-2's and other tax information. Criminals cannot successfully file a fraudulent return if you have already filed with the IRS! If you are a member and you would like some assistance filing your taxes, you can access the award-winning platform Turbo Tax by login into your Online Banking account.
• Be aware of phone calls, emails, and websites that try to get your information, or pressure you to make a payment.
• Ignore emails and texts asking for personal or tax information.
• Be cautious as to whom you provide your information, including your Social Security Number and date of birth.
• Don’t click on unknown links or links from unsolicited messages.
• Don’t open attachments from unsolicited messages, as they may contain malware.
• Only conduct financial business over trusted ( ) websites. Don’t use public, guest, free, or insecure Wi-Fi networks while conducting transactions either.
• Keep your information secure and shred all unneeded or old documents containing confidential and financial information.
• Check your credit report regularly for unauthorized activity.
• Be cautious if you receive notification that you have somehow miraculously qualified for an immediate IRS tax relief. If it seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.
• If someone claiming to be from the IRS is on the phone demanding personal information such as your Social Security Number, just hang up. If you are concerned about an issue related to the IRS, you can contact them directly on a contact number listed on https://www.irs.gov/ or get in touch with a tax advisor.
• Avoid sharing your full SSN over the phone with anyone unless necessary and always keep all documents that have it, such as W2.
Another great way to remain financially secure during tax season is by downloading the MobiMoney mobile app for your debit cards. As the old saying goes: prevention is better than the cure; and these MobiMoney features will help you remain vigilant of any dubious financial activity.
Seeking Help and Reporting Scams
If you receive a tax-related phishing or suspicious email at work, report it according to your company’s policy. The IRS encourages taxpayers to send suspicious emails related to tax fraud to its firstname.lastname@example.org email account or to call the IRS at 800-908-4490.
If you suspect you have become a victim of tax fraud or identity theft, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Identity Theft website will provide a step-by-step recovery plan.
We at IDB Global Federal Credit Union wish you and your family a wonderful -- fraud free -- tax season. It's our goal to make your financial life healthy and stress-free.
For the latest information on frauds and scams, visit the IDB Global Federal Credit Union online fraud center at our website. And as always, if you have any questions about this or other topics, don't hesitate to contact us. We're here for you.
Identity theft can occur when an individual obtains personal information, such as your social security number, date of birth, address, and financial account numbers. Once this information is obtained, the thieves will assume or take on your identity, allowing them to illegally purchase items or obtain credit.
Tips for protecting yourself from Identity Theft:
- Review your account activity regularly. Make sure to look over your account statements each month and check any unauthorized charges or suspicious activity.
- Set up alerts on your account so you can get notifications whenever certain transactions take place on your credit card.
- Share your Social Security Number sparingly. Make sure to keep your Social Security Card in a safe place, and only share it when absolutely necessary.
- Shred financial statements and other important documents to prevent thieves from gaining access to any of your personal information.
- Use strong passwords and be sure to change them regularly.
Who should you contact if you suspect Fraud:
- Credit Bureaus. Immediately call the fraud units of the three credit reporting companies -- Experian, Equifax and Trans Union. Ask that your account include a statement referencing the possibility of fraud.
- Creditors. Contact all creditors immediately with whom your name has been used fraudulently -- by phone and in writing. Monitor your accounts closely for any further fraudulent activity.
- Law Enforcement. Report the crime to police with jurisdiction in your case. Provide any documentation that you have collected. Get a copy of your police report. Keep the phone number of your fraud investigator handy and give it to creditors and others who require verification of your case.
- Financial Institutions. If you have checks stolen or bank accounts set up fraudulently, contact the institution to report the crime. Put stop payments on appropriate outstanding checks. Close your checking and savings accounts and open new accounts. If your ATM card is stolen or compromised, get a new card and PIN. When choosing a PIN, don't use common numbers like the last four digits of your Social Security number, your date of birth, license number or street address.
- U.S. Postal Service. Notify the local Postal Inspector if you suspect an identity thief has filed a change of your address with the post office or has used the mail to commit credit or bank fraud.
- Social Security Administration. Call to report fraudulent use of your Social Security number.
- Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Call to see if another license was issued in your name. Go to your local DMV to request a new number. Also, fill out the DMV's complaint form to begin the fraud investigation process. Send supporting documents with the completed form to the nearest DMV investigation office. Request a driver's license number different than your Social Security number if available in your state.
- Civil Courts. If a civil judgment has been entered in your name for actions taken by your impostor, contact the court where the judgment was entered and report that you are a victim of identity theft. If you are wrongfully prosecuted for criminal charges, contact the state Department of Justice and the FBI.
Credit Card Fraud
Credit card fraud generally occurs when cards or card numbers are compromised. By following these simple guidelines your potential for loss can be minimized.
Tips for protecting yourself against credit card fraud
- Keep a list of all your credit cards including the account number and phone number to the issuing company
- Review your credit card statement as soon as possible. Match charges with your receipts to ensure all charges are yours and are for the correct amount.
- Always sign a new credit card immediately.
- When making a purchase with a credit card, make sure you get the card back and the receipt. Check the receipt for accuracy.
- When using a credit card at a restaurant or store, make sure that all blank lines are marked through so that no one can change the final amount.
- Never sign blank credit card receipts.
- Only travel with the credit cards you plan on using.
- Never give your credit card number over the phone unless you initiate the call.
Check Cashing Fraud
Check cashing fraud occurs when individuals use information taken from your check to access your accounts and commit fraudulent acts. By following these simple guidelines, you can greatly reduce your risk of becoming a victim.
Tips for protecting yourself against check cashing fraud
- Always safeguard your checks. Make sure they are always put away somewhere safe.
- Keep your blank checks and canceled checks in a secure location; destroy old blank checks if you are not going to use them.
- Limit the amount of personal information printed on the checks to your name and address. Use plain designed checks. The fancier the check the easier it is to forge the signature. Useful information for thieves includes not only your account numbers, but information used to verify your identity, such as your driver's license number, or social security number.
- Do not leave your bill payments sitting in an unlocked mailbox for pickup. Go to the Post Office directly or use a curbside USPS mailbox (the blue metal ones) and drop your bills in the slot rather than using less secure street mailboxes.
- Be discreet when writing checks in public places. Write your checks carefully and leave no space in which figures or words can be inserted.
- When you make an error in writing a check, be sure to destroy the check or write "canceled" across it and store it with your other canceled checks.
- If your checks are lost or stolen, report it immediately to your financial institution.
- Reconcile your monthly statements as soon as you can to ensure all transactions are accurate. Contact us immediately if you do not receive it when expected.
- When you reorder checks, mark your calendar. If you don't receive your checks within 15 working days, contact your financial institution immediately to inquire as to the status of the order.
- Consider alternatives to writing checks. For instance, paying by phone, online, Bill Pay or setting up automatic payments.
Debit Card Fraud
Debit Card fraud can occur when individuals lose their card, give their card to someone else to use, or when their Personal Identification Number's confidentiality is compromised. By following these simple guidelines you can greatly reduce your exposure to Debit Card fraud.
Tips for protecting yourself against Debit Card fraud
- Never write your Personal Identification Number (PIN) on your card or in your wallet. Memorize your PIN as soon as possible and do not reveal your PIN to anyone not authorized to use the account.
- Never use your date of birth, social security number, license number or street address as a PIN -- those are the first numbers a crook will try.
- Don't throw away your ATM receipts at the ATM location. Keep them to reconcile your account, then dispose of them properly when you get home.
- Always be aware of your surroundings when using the ATM. If it is late at night, try to use a machine that is well lit and avoid dark, remote locations.
- Always make sure to retrieve your ATM card from the machine when the transaction is complete.
- Be aware of people waiting in line behind you. Make sure no one can see you entering your PIN or how much money you withdraw.
- Review your statement promptly to ensure all transactions are accurate. Report any discrepancies immediately.
- Destroy old ATM cards immediately after receiving your replacement cards.
In addition to the types ATM fraud that most of us are now aware of, there are two new types that can clean out your account quickly -- card withholding and skimming.
Card withholding occurs when thieves put something in the ATM slot to make the customers’ cards jam. Then, when someone uses the ATM the thieves can watch as you enter your PIN number over and over again. This is very common at drive-up ATMs where the user may not be paying attention to other people or cars nearby.
Skimming is done at businesses that offer Point-of-Sale (POS) devices for you to pay with your ATM card, such as gas stations. Thieves will typically convince an employee to allow them to connect a laptop computer to the POS machine. The laptop is usually stored under the counter where the POS device is located. When you swipe your card in the POS device to make a payment the information on the magnetic strip on your ATM card is copied and loaded onto a disk. Thieves may also install a hidden video camera that records you entering your PIN. They then match the magnetic information to the PIN and access your accounts.
Internet Security - Phishing Scams
Phishing is an internet scam in which e-mail spam or pop-up messages are used to deceive you into divulging personal or financial information over the internet. Phishers will send you an email or a pop-up message that appears to be from a company that you deal with – your credit card company, credit union or a government agency. The message usually requests that you update or validate account information and it will direct you to a website that looks just like the legitimate organization’s website, but it isn’t. The purpose of the bogus website is to deceive you into entering your personal information so the scammer’s can steal your identity and commit crimes in your name.
Tips to protect yourself against "Phishing Scams"
- If you get an email or pop-up message that asks for personal or financial information, do not reply. And don't click on the link in the message, either. Legitimate companies don't ask for this information via email. If you are concerned about your account, contact the organization mentioned in the email using a telephone number you know to be genuine, or open a new Internet browser session and type in the company's correct Web address yourself. In any case, don't cut and paste the link from the message into your Internet browser — phishers can make links look like they go to one place, but that actually send you to a different sites.
- Never give your personal information via e-mail. IDB Global Federal Credit Union will never request personal information via email.
- If you want to update your information, go directly to our website by opening a new browser window, and typing www.idbglobalfcu.org in the address.
Never go to our web site by clicking a link in an e-mail.
- When entering personal account information, verify that you are on a secure website. If the website is secure, you will find "https" in the address and a closed padlock in your browser's toolbar.
- Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, as well as a firewall, and update them all regularly. Some phishing emails contain software that can harm your computer or track your activities on the Internet without your knowledge. Anti-virus software and a firewall can protect you from inadvertently accepting such unwanted files.
Phone Security - "Vishing" Scams
Vishing is a scam similar to Phishing, a scam involves sending a spam email or pop-up message telling you that your account has been compromised and will instruct you to call a phone number to verify your account information. An official sounding automated message will ask you to enter your personal financial information such as your 16 digit credit card number. Some of these scams involve a telephone call to the victim directly in which the caller already has your credit card number but asks you to verify the valuable three digit security code.
Tips to protect yourself against "Vishing" Scams
- Never give your personal information over the phone. If you feel a call is suspicious, call the company directly to verify the authenticity of the call.
- Beware of organizations asking for charitable donations. If you want to donate money, contact the organization yourself to make sure that your money is going to the appropriate place.
Text Message Security - "Smishing" Scams
Smishing is a scam similar to Vishing for Phishing, but gets its name from SMS text messaging. Smishing is when a scammer sends you a text message claiming that there is a problem with your bank account and asks you to text back n order to reactivate your account. Other Smishing scam text messages may include a link to a website you that you must click on to resolve the “problem.”
Tips for protecting yourself against "Smishing" Scams
1. Don’t respond in any way to Smishing messages, even if it is just to ask the sender to leave you alone. Responding will verify that your phone number is active, and will prompt the scammer to keep trying
2. Never click on any links or call phone numbers in an unsolicited text message. Simply delete the message from your phone
3. Report the message to your cell phone service’s scam text reporting number, or the general customer service number.
Protect Your Privacy
Fraud comes in many shapes and sizes and unfortunately, it will never go away. Nor will the money and time spent fixing it. That’s why it’s vital to ramp up your security arsenal.
While fraud operators are constantly developing new viruses, spyware and online fraud schemes, the good news is that you can take action to protect yourself against online fraud.