Account Fraud – What You Can Do

Account fraud is one of the fastest growing crimes in the nation. Your credit union has safeguards to help prevent and detect account fraud, but it is your knowledge, awareness and alertness that are the first and most important first lines of defense. Account fraud can come in many forms. Some examples are:

  • Checking Account Fraud
  • Credit Card Fraud
  • ATM Fraud
  • Identity Theft
  • Electronic Account Fraud

For example, inexpensive computer technology and improved printers make it easier than ever for thieves to set up a fraudulent check operation.

Personal Vigilance: The First Defense

The first, and most important step in preventing account fraud is through careful and diligent safeguarding of your account information. You can play a big part in this effort: Do not treat your confidential information casually or provide it to unknown parties, especially to solicitations received by phone. Be extra vigilant in protecting your confidential information, including account numbers, credit card numbers and receipts, personal identification numbers (PINs), computer passwords, social security numbers and personal information, including IDs.

Minimize Your Risks to Prevent Fraud

The following are just some of the many steps that you can take to help minimize the risk of account fraud happening to you:

Protect your account and personal information – never respond to unsolicited requests for this information, whether it's over the phone, through the mail or via the Internet.

Online, only provide your credit card number on a secure Web page, which is identified by a little lock (that is locked) displayed in the lower right corner of your browser.

Use a single credit card, with a low credit limit, for Internet purchases

Do not send credit card information via e-mail or instant messenger – they are not secure.

Do not have confidential information preprinted on your checks.

Report any lost or stolen credit cards or checks to the issuing institution immediately so that stop-payment can be made on them.

Shred any documents containing confidential information, including unused checks (even if an account has been closed), ATM receipts and old credit card receipts, before disposal.

Review all account and credit card statements once they are received to quickly determine that no account irregularities are apparent.

Notify your credit union if newly ordered checks or regular statements do not arrive in a timely manner. A missing statement may mean someone has changed your billing address to prevent you from seeing fraudulent transactions.

Deposit outgoing mail directly into post office boxes, not in your own mailbox. If you are going on vacation, place a delivery hold on your mail.

Carry a minimum number of ID and credit cards. Don't carry your social security card, PIN numbers or passwords in your wallet or purse. Make copies of all items maintained in your purse or wallet.

Cancel and destroy any credit cards that you don't need or use. View your credit report at least once a year.

Where to Turn for Help

Always be sure to contact your credit union or affected financial institution immediately as soon as you learn you have been a victim of account fraud. In most cases this will limit or eliminate the amount for which you might otherwise be liable on your loss. Additional information about fraud is available from:

The National Check Fraud Center at www.ckfraud.org or 843-571-2143

The U.S. government’s central Web site on Identity Theft at www.consumer.gov/section/scams-and-identity-theft

Card Cops, a fraud prevention group, which has on it’s Web sit (www.cardcops.com) a free service that may alert you to the possibility that your credit card number is about to be used for fraudulent purposes.

And most important of all, if you have been the victim of fraud or a scam don’t feel too embarrassed to ask for help. The perpetrators can’t be caught if the incident isn’t reported.

For more information on protecting yourself online you can also check out this very helpful website. www.onguardonline.gov