What is identity theft and identity fraud?
The short answer is that identity theft is a crime. Identity theft and identity fraud are terms used to refer to all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person's personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain.
Keeping your important papers secure, shredding documents with sensitive information before you put them in the trash, and limiting the personal information you carry with you are among some of the ways you can protect your identity.
Throughout the year, FCCU hosts free community shredding days. During these days you can bring your documents with sensitive information to one of our branches and we will shred them for you to ensure a safe and secure disposal.
Fraud via Email
Phishing is a scam that targets you via email, where you are encouraged to click links to fraudulent sites, give out your personal information, or send money.
While reviewing a potential phishing email, ask yourself:
- Do you know the sender of the email? If so, is their email address correct?
- Did you expect the email?
- Are there any attachments? Did you expect there to be attachments?
- Does the email ask for personal information?
- Does the sender demand anything of you?
- Are there any mispelled words or incorrect grammar?
- Is the sender addressing you by name? If so, is your name spelled correctly?
If you suspect that an email is fraudulent, follow these tips:
- Do not reply back to the email.
- Do not call any phone numbers provided within the email.
- If you want to verify the validity of the email, use contact information from an external source. E.g. If the email is supposedly from FCCU and you want to verify it, Google "FCCU" and find contact information from FCCU's website.
- If you're at home, delete the email.
- If you're at work, contact your IT department so that they can use the email as evidence of a fraud attempt.
Fraud via Phone Call
Vishing (also known as voice vishing) is the telephone equivalent of phishing, described as a fraud tactic used to manipulate you into giving out your personal information over the phone.
Fraudsters often pretend to be a trusted company or charity. They also use a sense of urgency to get victims to act quickly without thinking through the situation.
If you suspect that a phone call is fraudulent, follow these steps:
- Never give out personal information over the phone to an unknown caller. A financial institution would never ask you to verify your account information online.
- Do not use any contact information given to you during the phone call.
- Ask the caller if you can call them back on a verified number. If you do this and the caller bullies you or tries to utilize a "sense of urgency," just hang up.
Fraud via Text
SMiShing is the text message equivalent of phishing, described as a fraud tactic where you are encouraged to click links to fraudulent sites, give out your personal information, or send money.
The warning signs for SMiShing are very similar to those for phishing (fraud via email) and vishing (fraud via phone call). Check out the tabs above for the warning signs for each.
Bottom line: Just delete the text. Better safe than sorry.
Pharming is the fraudulent practice of directing Internet users to a bogus website that mimics the appearance of a legitimate one in order to obtain personal information.
Follow these tips before entering personal information or login information online:
- Pay attention to the URL (web address) and ensure that you were not redirected to a fraudulent website.
- Install a trusted anti-virus on your computer.
- Do not disable or weaken your computer's firewall.
- Always allow for computer updates.
Click on the links below to learn more.
- NCUA Fraud Prevention Center
- The United States Department of Justice – Identity Theft and Identity Fraud
- Federal Trade Commission – Consumer Information: Protecting Your Identity
- Frauds and Scams
- Prevent Identity Theft
- IdentityTheft.gov – Accepts fraud reports, and provides an interactive recovery process checklist.
- IdentityTheft.gov – Spanish-friendly version.