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How to Protect Yourself from Fraud

Identity theft is on the rise, and there’s no better time than now to educate yourself and take steps to safeguard your personal information. Criminals have honed their nefarious skills to alarming levels of cunning and deceit—and are frequently turning their predatory gaze toward trusting demographics, such as younger people and senior citizens.

In 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a report that showed consumers lost 8.8 billion dollars in 2022 due to fraud—a 30% increase over the previous year. With so much at stake, it pays to take some time to understand how to protect yourself, as a single breach can wreak havoc on your personal and financial life.

Read on to learn more and discover how to prevent fraud and how to avoid being scammed online.

How Does Fraud Happen?

Before we begin, we need to talk about how fraud happens. Scam artists and criminals will use various tactics to obtain personal information, such as your name, address, and social security number. Once armed with this data, they can gain access to your bank account, apply for credit cards, or even create functional debit cards to withdraw cash from ATMs or ITMs.

The increased identity theft rates are affecting the customers of both banks and credit unions across the nation. The audacity and creativity behind these tactics are alarmingly sophisticated, making it all the more important for individuals to be vigilant and well-informed.

Educate your friends and family members who fall into the two most susceptible groups (young people and older adults). Share this knowledge with them and encourage open communication about any suspicious contact they may encounter.

How to Protect Your Information

The first step to preventing yourself from becoming a victim is to understand that there are many different ways that criminals can obtain your personal information. The following tips can help you shield your sensitive data from prying eyes and protect from fraud:

Create Strong Passwords—It’s crucial to use strong and long passwords to prevent hackers from accessing your online bank account. Avoid using easily guessable ones like ‘123456’ or ‘password.’ Be sure to incorporate upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters (e.g., $, ^, @, and %).

Don’t re-use the same passwords over and over again—especially the password you use to access your Listerhill Credit Union account online. Some browsers, such as Firefox, will inform you of website breaches and advise you to change your password.

Monitor Accounts Regularly—Keep an eye on your accounts by setting up alerts for transactions and reviewing statements periodically to ensure that all activities are legitimate. Early detection of unauthorized activity is key.

Be Cautious with Emails & Phone Calls—Be skeptical of unsolicited texts, emails, or phone calls asking for personal information or money. Always verify the identity of the person contacting you. Remember that legitimate organizations, including your bank, will never ask for sensitive information such as passwords or Social Security numbers via text, email or unsolicited calls.

Use Account Alerts—Set up alerts to receive notifications for transactions or other account activities. This proactive approach keeps you informed in real-time and enables you to swiftly detect and respond to any unauthorized or suspicious activity on your account.

Shred Sensitive Documents—Properly dispose of documents that contain personal information. Using a cross-cut shredder can ensure sensitive documents like bank statements, credit card offers, and bills are destroyed in a way that makes it extremely difficult for anyone to piece them back together.

Common Scams and How to Avoid Them

Scams often come in the form of unsolicited texts, emails or phone calls. Criminals will pretend to be someone they’re not in an attempt to either scare you or gain your trust. If you’re wondering how to avoid scams, here are the four most common ones:

Phishing—These are fake texts or emails that look legitimate, often asking for personal information. Never click on links or download attachments from an email you weren’t expecting. The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) put out an infographic that dives deeper into phishing.

Lottery Scams—If you receive a message saying you’ve won a lottery you never entered, it’s probably a scam. Don’t provide any personal information or money.

Tech Support Scams—Beware of people who call claiming to be from tech support and asking for access to your computer. They can easily hack into it and steal your passwords and bank login information.

Government Scams—Scammers will call and pretend to be an IRS agent or government official. They will act very authoritarian-like over the phone and make threats to get you to divulge information.

The FTC has set up two dedicated web pages to educate the public on recognizing and identifying phone scams and phishing scams.

How to Identify if You’ve Been a Victim

Keep an eye out for transactions you don’t recognize. Also, watch for sudden changes in your credit score, any communication regarding accounts or services you did not sign up for, and unexpected account statements or alerts.

Check your credit report regularly for accounts you didn’t open or changes you didn’t authorize. If you don’t plan on applying for credit in the near future (credit card, car loan, home loan, etc.), consider freezing your credit reports for free. If scammers were to steal your information, a frozen credit report would prevent them from opening new accounts under your name and Social Security number.

What to Do If You Suspect Fraud

Contact us immediately if you believe you’ve been a victim. We take fraud VERY seriously and will take the necessary steps to secure your account and investigate the issue. Our dedicated team will work closely with you to identify and rectify any unauthorized activities, guiding you through the process to regain control and peace of mind.

In the meantime, update the passwords for your financial accounts and file a report with your local law enforcement. It creates a paper trail that can be useful in resolving the issue and possibly recovering lost funds. Moreover, it allows authorities to identify patterns, potentially preventing others from falling victim to similar scams or fraudulent activities.

Member Liability and Steps in Case of Fraudulent Transactions

As a member, if you report the loss or theft of a debit or credit card before the criminal uses it without your permission, you're not responsible for any unauthorized transactions. If you report unauthorized transactions within two business days after you learn about the loss or theft, your liability is limited to $50.

This is why it’s so important to contact us as soon as you discover fraudulent transitions on your account. By acting swiftly, you not only minimize your financial liability but also enable us to take immediate action to secure your account and initiate an investigation.

Listerhill Credit Union is your ally in safeguarding your hard-earned money, and timely communication is vital to that partnership.

Listerhill Credit Union’s Role in Protecting You

We recognize there's often a need for more education on how bad actors obtain personal information. To that point:

Listerhill Credit Union has not suffered from any data breaches or leaks.

However, we have observed instances where members mistakenly believe we had a data leak when their information got compromised through other means. Believe it or not, scammers can even get your personal information from a magazine subscription!

Identity theft and fraud are national issues affecting people and banking institutions everywhere. For example, CNBC reported a 61% increase in phishing attacks from May through October 2022 compared to the same period in 2021.

Here are the steps Listerhill Credit Union takes to ensure the safety of your money:

Regular security training—Our staff undergoes ongoing training to ensure they are up-to-date with the latest security protocols and can educate members on best practices.

Two-factor authentication (2FA)—We encourage and facilitate the use of 2FA for our members, adding an extra layer of security to online banking.

Fraud monitoring—Our high-tech security systems continuously monitor for suspicious activity. We don’t hesitate to contact you if something seems amiss.

Community outreach—We actively engage with the community, holding seminars and workshops that focus on educating young people and older adults about the importance of cybersecurity and how to recognize scams.

Encryption technology—The Listerhill Credit Union website uses encryption technology, such as Secure Socket Layer (SSL), to protect the information transmitted from your computer to our website/server and vice versa.

Your Security is Our Priority

Listerhill Credit Union understands how fraud and identity theft can negatively impact our members. We have an unwavering commitment to ensuring that your financial well-being remains protected and secure.

Don't hesitate to reach out if you have any concerns or questions. Remember, Listerhill Credit Union is your financial partner, and together, we can safeguard your financial future. If you’re not yet part of our family, you may be eligible to become a member.

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