Check fraud is on the rise. According to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, more than 1.2 million fraudulent checks are written every day — more than 13 per second. Learn more below.
Protect Yourself from Check Fraud
The single biggest mistake that consumers make with regard to check fraud is thinking that it could not happen to them. New laws place consumers at greater risk for bearing the responsibility of check fraud perpetrated against them, if they fail to report the fraud within 30 days.
It all adds up to the importance of paying attention to a number of common sense practices:
Since most check fraud starts with the theft of a check, keep your checks as safe as possible, with your excess supply stored in a secure place.
Don’t leave a blank space when writing out dollar amounts.
Avoid abbreviations (IRS, for example, can easily be changed to MRS.)
Pick up checks from your mailbox promptly.
Order checks from the credit union, checks ordered from the credit union are harder to alter.
Protect your deposit slips. A common scam involves con artists who deposit worthless checks into your account, getting some of the “deposit” back as cash.
Report any irregularities promptly.
Email and Phishing Fraud
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 site.
Area codes can mislead. Some scammers send an email that appears to be from a legitimate business and ask you to call a phone number to update your account or access a “refund.” Because they use Voice over internet Protocol technology, the area code you call does not reflect where the scammers really are. If you need to reach an organization you do business with, call the number on your financial statements or on the back of your credit card. In any case, delete random emails that ask you to confirm or divulge your financial information.
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. Anti-virus software scans incoming communications for troublesome files. Look for anti-virus software that recognizes current viruses as well as older ones; that can effectively reverse the damage; and that updates automatically.
A firewall helps make you invisible on the internet and blocks all communications from unauthorized sources. It’s especially important to run a firewall if you have a broadband connection. Operating systems (like Windows or Linux) or browsers (like internet Explorer or Netscape) also may offer free software “patches” to close holes in the system that hackers or phishers could exploit.
Don’t email personal or financial information. Email is not a secure method of transmitting personal information. If you initiate a transaction and want to provide your personal or financial information through an organization’s website, look for indicators that the site is secure, like a lock icon on the browser’s status bar or a URL for a website that begins “https:” (the “s” stands for “secure”). Unfortunately, no indicator is foolproof; some phishers have forged security icons.
Be cautious about opening any attachment or downloading any files from emails you receive, regardless of who sent them. These files can contain viruses or other software that can weaken your computer’s security.
Forward spam that is phishing for information to email@example.com and to the company, bank, or organization impersonated in the phishing email. Most organizations have information on their websites about where to report problems. You also may report phishing email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Anti-Phishing Working Group, a consortium of ISPs, security vendors, financial institutions and law enforcement agencies, uses these reports to fight phishing.
If you believe you’ve been scammed, file your complaint at www.ftc.gov, and then visit the FTC’s Identity Theft website at www.consumer.gov/idtheft. Victims of phishing can become victims of identity theft. While you can’t entirely control whether you will become a victim of identity theft, you can take some steps to minimize your risk. If an identity thief is opening credit accounts in your name, these new accounts are likely to show up on your credit report. You may catch an incident early if you order a free copy of your credit report periodically from any of the three major credit bureaus. See www.annualcreditreport.com. for details on ordering a free annual credit report.
Plastic Card Fraud
Debit/Credit and ATM card fraud can happen to most anyone. While card theft is fraud, it can also occur when someone uses your card number without your knowledge. Follow these precautions to help prevent card fraud from happening to you.
Keep a watchful eye on your card during transactions and have it returned quickly
Never provide your card information on a website that is not a secure site (look for https:// in the URL)
Sign your cards as soon as you receive them
Never give your PIN or lend your card to anyone
Do not use an ATM that you suspect has a skimming device
Always be aware of anyone around you when using an ATM
Guard the key pad when entering your PIN so others can’t see your entry
Never write your PIN on your card or have it anywhere near your card
Keep in a secure place a record of your card account numbers, expiration dates and he address and phone number for each company
Void any incorrect receipts and destroy carbons of transactions
Only carry cards you absolutely need
Never respond to emails, websites or phone inquiries that request you provide your card information
Open your bills promptly and reconcile them monthly
Report any questionable charges over the phone and in writing to the card company
Save receipts and compare them to billing statements
Notify card companies in advance of a change in address
Shred anything with your card number on it
What to Do in Case of Fraud
If you need to dispute or suspect fraudulent activity on your Rocky Mountain Law Enforcement Federal Credit Union Visa Card or ATM card, please contact Rocky Mountain Law Enforcement Federal Credit Union at 303-458-6660 or 800-371-7716 outside Denver metro area OR after hours 800-543-5073.