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Top 10 ways to protect your personal information from being misused

1. Review your credit report. You are entitled to a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three major consumer reporting companies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). You can request a copy from AnnualCreditReport.com .

2. Consider a security freeze. A security freeze or credit freeze on your credit report restricts access to your credit file. Creditors typically won’t offer you credit if they can’t access your credit reporting file, so a freeze prevents you and others from opening new accounts in your name. In almost all states, a freeze lasts until you remove it. In some states, it expires after seven years.

3. Set up a fraud alert. Fraud alerts require that a financial institution verifies your identity before opening a new account, issuing an additional card, or increasing the credit limit on an existing account. A fraud alert won’t prevent lenders from opening new accounts in your name, but it will require that the lenders take additional identification verification steps to make sure that you’re making the request. An initial fraud alert only lasts for 90 days, so you may want to watch for when to renew it. You can also set up an extended alert for identity theft victims, which is good for seven years.

4. Read your credit card and bank statements carefully. Look closely for charges you did not make. Even a small charge can be a danger sign. Thieves sometimes will take a small amount from your checking account and then return to take much more if the small debit goes unnoticed.

5. Don’t ignore bills from people you don’t know. A bill on an account you don’t recognize may be an indication that someone else has opened an account in your name. Contact the creditor to find out.

6. Shred any documents with personal or sensitive information. Be sure to keep hard copies of financial information in a safe place and be sure to shred them before getting rid of them.

7. Change your passwords for all of your financial accounts and consider changing the passwords for your other accounts as well. Be sure to create strong passwords and do not use the same password for all accounts. Don’t use information such as addresses and birthdays in your passwords. For more tips on how to create strong passwords read more on the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) blog .

8. File your taxes as soon as you can. A scammer can use your Social Security number to get a tax refund. You can try to prevent a scammer  from using your tax information to file and steal your tax refund by making sure you file before they do. Be sure not to ignore any official letters from the IRS and reply as soon as possible. The IRS will contact you by mail; don’t provide any information or account numbers in response to calls or emails.

9. Active duty servicemembers are eligible for additional protections, and should also monitor their credit carefully. Learn more about what you can do if you’re currently serving at home or abroad.

10. If you are the parent or guardian of a minor and you think your child’s information has been compromised, here are some steps from the FTC you can take to protect their information from fraudulent use. If you think you or your child’s identity has already been stolen you can follow checklists and additional steps provided by the FTC to begin recovering from a case of identity theft.

Source: CFPB Blog

Ways to protect yourself online

  1. Use strong passwords that are at least 11 characters in length that are case-sensitive and include alpha-numeric characters and at least one symbol.  Use a password checker to ensure you're using a strong password.
  2. Do not use the same password for multiple websites used to conduct online transactions.
  3. Be sure your home computer is protected with a firewall and antivirus / anti-malware software.  A best practice is to configure the antivirus / anti-malware software to automatically check for updates at least weekly.
  4. Be sure to install operating system patches when they are made available.
  5. Avoid using public Wi-Fi and public computers (e.g., those found in libraries and hotel lobbies) to conduct online transactions.  The use a a VPN cab make public Wi-Fi more secure.
  6. When offered, use multifactor authentication for account logins or out-of-band authentication to confirm login attempts and/or transactions.  Multifactor authentication uses more than one authentication method, such as user password (something you know) and a one-time password token (something you have), or biometrics (something you are).  Out-of-band authentication typically involves the user receiving a passcode via text message which the user must enter to complete a login or a transaction.
  7. Be wary of what you're sharing - Openly sharing information on social media can provide an identity thief with the necessary information to impersonate you, or answer certain challenge questions.  Keep social media accounts private, and be cautious who you're connecting with.  Never share anything related to your credit union account, transactional history, or identifying information in unprotected public forums.

HOW TO PROTECT YOUR ACCOUNTS...AWARENESS IS THE KEY

We will NEVER tell you via phone, text, or email that your debit or credit card has been deactivated and for you to call a phone number or link to a website to re-activate it.  These scams are looking for you to enter your 16 digit card number, PIN and CVV2/CVC2 code on the back of the card.

EMAIL PHISHING is an email message that asks you to click on a link, which then takes you to a website and then asks you to enter your card information. If you receive unsolicited or unfamiliar email requests you should either delete them immediately or confirm through other means that the email is legitimate before opening it. If you receive such an email request, do not open it, do not click on its links, do not open its attachments, and do not reply or forward it.

LAND LINE TELEPHONE “VISHING” Vishing, (Voice phISHING) is the voice counterpart to phishing. Rather than being directed by e-mail to a Web site, an e-mail message asks the user to make a telephone call. The call triggers a voice response system that asks for the user's card number or other personal or financial information. The initial bait can also be a telephone call with a recording that instructs the user to phone an 800 number or another area code within or outside of the United States. Because people are used to entering card numbers over the phone, this technique can be effective.

TEXT MESSAGE “SMISHING” Smishing (SMS phISHING) is the mobile phone counterpart to phishing. Rather than being directed by e-mail to a Web site, a text message is sent to the user's cell phone or other mobile device with some ploy to click on a link. The link causes a Trojan to be installed in the cell phone or other mobile device.

The Credit Union will NEVER ask you for personal information via text message, email or unsolicited phone calls.  If you have any doubt about who is on the phone, call the Credit Union directly or the phone number on your credit or debit card.  24/7 toll-free numbers can also be found on your credit card statement.  Never open an unsolicited email or text message.  Monitor your accounts on a regular basis.  If you have not signed up for online banking, now is a perfect time.  Immediately report any suspicious activity  or phishing attempts to us as soon as possible so we can alert the proper authorities.