Fraud and Identity Theft
Fraud and identity theft crimes continue to grow at rapid rates. RFCU wants to keep you up-to-date on the latest trends, so that you can protect yourself from becoming a victim. Being aware and informed are keys to keeping your personal information safe. Below is information on some of the latest fraud and identity theft scams targeting consumers.
- Lottery Scams
- Advance Fee Scam
- Credit Union Employee Impersonator
- Internet Sale Scam
- Fake Inheritance
- Pigeon Drop Scam
- Bank Examiner
- If You Become a Victim
Lottery Scams are generally telemarketing and Internet scams that target consumers, informing them they are winners of a lottery or sweepstakes. Often times, variations of this scam originate from other countries such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, or Spain and will target older adults.
- Consumers are told that they must pay the taxes, handling fees or conversion fees on the winnings before they can receive their jackpot.
- Consumers are asked to mail or wire a large sum of money to a location outside of the United States, and consumers may never receive any other correspondence.
- In a variation of the scheme, consumers may receive a "certified" check in the mail for a large sum of money, which they deposit into their account.
- The "certified" check turns out to be counterfeit and is charged back to the consumer's account.
Advance Fee Scam
Consumer receives a letter, fax or e-mail asking for assistance to transfer funds from a foreign country to the United States for safekeeping.
- In appreciation of the consumer's assistance, they are promised a percentage of the funds - often millions of dollars.
- Consumer is asked to provide an initial payment to secure the transaction (the advanced fee), which is then followed by additional taxes, fees, etc.
- Consumer never receives the promised percentage of the funds.
- In variations of this scheme, the fraudster will send worthless checks that look legitimate to the consumer for deposit with a large portion being wired to another location. Once the checks are deposited, the consumer soon discovers they are left with an overdrawn account.
Credit Union Employee Impersonator
Consumer receives a telephone call from someone claiming to be a credit union employee.
- Consumer is told there is a computer problem or security investigation and asked to provide their account information for verification.
- Consumer later discovers that funds are missing from their bank account.
Internet Sale Scam
Consumer advertises an item for sale on the Internet and a buyer offers consumer's asking price.
- Consumer is advised a bank check will be sent in advance to pay for the item. When the check is received it is for more than the agreed upon sale price.
- Consumer contacts the buyer who states "the bank made a mistake" and asks the consumer to send back the difference via wire transfer.
- The money is sent via the wire, and the next day the bank check is returned as fraud and the full amount is deducted from the consumer's bank account.
- Consumer is left with a large negative account balance and the buyer cannot be located.
Tips for Selling Merchandise Over the Internet
Before selling expensive merchandise over the Internet or through newspaper ads, remember the following basic tips that can help protect you from becoming a victim of various fraud crimes.
- Be cautious of dealing with potential buyers who agree to buy the merchandise unseen - especially if you are selling items such as a vehicle, computer equipment, electronic equipment or other high-end items.
- If the purchaser indicates he is overseas or planning to ship the merchandise overseas consider this a major red flag of potential fraud.
- A sale made over the Internet should not call for you, the seller, to provide funds back to the purchaser.
- If you receive a check that claims to be an Official Bank Check for an amount greater than the purchase with a request to wire transfer the excess funds back to the purchaser or another party - this should be a red flag that the transaction is potentially fraudulent.
- Remember that any check can be counterfeited or altered, including checks claiming to be Official Bank Checks, Cashier's Checks, Certified Checks or Personal Money Orders. As the depositor, you can be held responsible for the overdrafts or losses of the deposited check item if is not honored by the drawing bank - even if the check hold on the item has expired and your bank has made the funds available to you. Always ask to talk to your bank's fraud prevention department and explain the details of the transaction to them.
Consumer receives a letter or e-mail advising them they are entitled to an inheritance from a distant relative they do not know.
- Consumer is asked to provide bank account and personal information to complete the necessary paperwork.
- Later a bill is received for inheritance taxes and the consumer is advised to send the money in advance of receiving the inheritance.
- The consumer sends the large sum of money, but never receives the inheritance, and in some cases may receive a worthless check.
Pigeon Drop Scam (This scam is generally aimed at older adults.)
A stranger - often a team of two strangers - approaches a consumer on the street or in a public area with a story about a large sum of money they allegedly found.
- Consumer is invited to share the wealth with the stranger, but in order to show good faith, the consumer is asked to withdraw a large sum of money to contribute in the sharing. The stranger may provide explanations of why they need the participation of the consumer, i.e. they don't have a bank account, are in a new area, don't have legal status in the country, etc.
- Consumer enters bank and negotiates a cash withdrawal from their account and gives the money to the stranger who places it with the found money in a bag or box.
- Stranger then gives all the money in the container to the consumer entrusting them with the funds while they leave to verify something.
- Consumer later discovers, after the stranger does not return, that the money has been replaced with paper.
Bank Examiner Fraud (This scam is generally aimed at older adults.)
Someone claiming to be a bank official, FBI agent or police officer contacts a customer and indicates that they are investigating suspected employee fraud at the bank and needs the customer's help in trapping the thief.
- The official asks the customer to go to the bank and withdraw a sum of cash from the teller. They ask that the money be placed in a bank envelope and brought directly to them.
- The official receives the envelope and pretends to count the cash. They inform the customer that it appears the teller took one or two $100 bills and they will need the money as evidence.
- The official departs and the customer never hears from the official again.
If You Become a Victim
Before following through on any suspicious transaction, make sure to:
- Research the source thoroughly.
- Ask for help from a credit union employee. Let us know you have concerns about a check before you make a deposit.
If you think you might be a victim of one of these scams or suspect fraudulent activity on your RFCU account, follow these steps:
- Call RFCU immediately to report the issue, at (800) 562-7328 or (781) 878-0232.
- Contact your local law enforcement office.
Other resources for information or assistance may include:
- The Federal Trade Commission, (877) FTC-HELP, www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/.
- The National Fraud Information Center, (800) 876-7060, www.fraud.org.
- The Internet Crime Complaint Center, www.ic3.gov/default.aspx.
- The National Center on Elder Abuse, (800) 677-1116, http://ncea.acl.gov/
All of the suggestions, tips and guidance provided in the above sections are for informational purposes only. They are general guidelines provided to assist fraud victims in understanding some of the steps they may take to help protect their personal and financial interests. The suggestions are not all-inclusive and should not be considered nor interpreted as legal, accounting, financial or technical advice. You may wish to consult your attorney, accountant or other advisor for specific advice, guidance or recommendations concerning this topic.
Minimizing the Risk of Fraud
Check fraud, identity theft, and other financial fraud schemes are in the news daily. Every year, thousands of people are victimized by the passing of forged checks accompanied by lost, stolen, or fictitious identification.
To help combat these crimes, we may ask for extra identification or perform additional verification steps when processing your transactions. We have also put together these tips to help you minimize your risk of fraud:
- How to Protect Your Personal and Account Information
- How to Protect Your Business and Business Account Information
How to Protect Your Personal and Account Information
- Protect your personal and account information at all times. Treat this information as the valuable asset it is.
- Never give your checking account, credit card or Social Security number to unknown callers or during telephone sales solicitations.
- Never give out your ATM, Check Card, or credit card PIN (Personal Identification Number). We do not ask for your PIN or Password during the verification process.
- Never write your PIN or Password on your ATM card, Check Card, or Credit card. Memorize your PIN or Password.
- Review your bank statements promptly and report any discrepancies or suspect transactions immediately.
- Report lost or stolen checks, ATM cards, or Check Cards as soon as you discover they are missing.
- Store your extra checks and deposit slips in a secure locked location and properly destroy canceled checks. Never leave your checkbook in your vehicle.
- Protect your ATM, Check Card, and credit card receipts. Some receipts may bear the account number.
- Protect your checkbook and bank documents (including statements and canceled checks) so they aren't accessible to guests, contractors, repairmen, etc.
- When you close out a bank account, be certain to destroy/shred your excess supply of checks and deposit slips.
- If your home is burglarized, check your supply of checks to determine if any have been stolen. Look closely, since thieves will sometimes take only one or two checks from the middle or back of the book, so it's harder to determine that they are missing.
- Purchase your checks and deposit slips from our approved check vendor to ensure quality of your check stock and the integrity of your account documents.
- Take advantage of products and services designed to assist you in protecting your accounts.
- Do not share your login access codes for Online Banking, Online Brokerage and Online Bill Pay services with third party providers.
How to Protect Your Business and Business Account Information
- Segregate financial responsibilities-do not have the same person balance the bank statement and issue checks.
- Regularly review your account activity and canceled checks, especially if someone else reconciles your bank statement.
- Secure all reserve supplies of checks, deposit slips and other banking documents in a locked compartment.
- Limit access to only a few authorized employees.
- Change the locks when an employee leaves your employ.
- Conduct random audits and enforce vacation policies (especially for employees who have access to the financial records and documents).
- Use an electronic payment system for check disbursement rather than manually issuing checks, if finances permit.
- Familiarize yourself with the bank's depositor's contract and with your liability for fraud under the Uniform Commercial Code.
- Use a shredder to destroy all canceled checks and financial data that are no longer needed.
- Have your employees bonded when appropriate.
- Stay in touch with other businesses to share information regarding suspected fraud activity.
- Purchase your checks and deposit slips from our approved check vendor to ensure the quality of your check stock and the integrity of your account documents.
- Do not share your login access codes for Online Banking.
What To Do If You Become a Victim of Fraud
In the event you are a victim of fraud or burglary, there are a number of immediate steps you can take to help protect your personal and financial interests:
- Immediately contact your credit union and credit card issuers so that the following can be done:
- Access to your accounts can be protected
- Stop payments placed on missing checks
- Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) and Online Banking Passwords changed
- Open a new account(s) when appropriate
Be sure to indicate to the bank or issuer all the cards and/or accounts potentially impacted, including your ATM Card(s), Check Cards (debit cards), and credit cards. Also, ask the agent to review all recent transactions on your accounts linked to those cards including checking, savings, money market, credit, home equity, etc. Additionally, ensure that no one has requested an address change, title change, PIN change, or ordered new cards or checks to be sent to another address. You can generally find Customer Service or Fraud Prevention contact telephone numbers and your account numbers on your monthly statements. Having this information handy will often facilitate your call.
- File a police report with your local police department and provide the facts and circumstances surrounding your loss. Obtain a police report number with the date, time, police department, location and police officer taking the report or involved in the subsequent investigation. Having a police report on file will often facilitate your dealings with insurance companies, banks, credit card agencies, and commercial establishments that may be the recipient of your stolen checks or fraudulent credit purchases. The police report may initiate a law enforcement investigation into the loss with the goal of identifying, arresting, and prosecuting the offender and possibly recovering your lost items. The police report will also help provide immediate clarification should someone assume your identity and be arrested for criminal activity using your name and biographical data.
- Maintain a written chronology of what happened, what was lost, and the steps you took to report the incident to the various agencies, banks, and firms impacted. Be sure to record the date, time, contact telephone number, person you talked to, and any relevant report or reference number and instructions.
- Do a thorough review and inventory of account activity and/or items that may have been stolen from you. If you later discover additional fraudulent items or missing articles, be sure to contact the respective police agency, bank, credit card issuer, or commercial establishment and update your initial report.
In addition to reporting your situation to your credit union, credit card issuers, and local police department, remember to contact the following areas should these items be among your missing belongings:
- Department of Motor Vehicles for the replacement of your Driver's License and vehicle registration.
- Social Security Administration for the replacement of your Social Security card.
- Voter's registration office for the replacement of your voter's registration card.
- Local library to replace your library card.
- Various merchants who may have issued you a courtesy check cashing card.
- Various insurance companies for replacement of Medicare card, prescription card, proof of homeowners, auto, medical insurance, etc.
- Your local video rental ID card.
- Your employee ID card, security door access cards, special remote computer access passwords or tokens issued by your employer.
Reporting Fraud and Identity Theft
If your name, account number or any form of personal identification has been used in a fraudulent scheme or transaction, you may wish to contact the agencies listed below.
Rockland Federal Credit Union at (800) 562-7328 or (781) 878-0232
Report any fraudulent activity on your deposit account such as lost or stolen checks, and other unauthorized transactions found in your account statement.
Request a copy of your credit bureau report and look for unknown inquiries or approved credit. Request a statement be placed on your record that no further credit be approved unless you are contacted directly before approval is granted.
|Report Fraud||(800) 525-6285||(888) 397-3742||(800) 680-7289|
|Dispute Credit Report Online||www.Equifax.com||www.Experian.com||www.Transunion.com|
|Order Credit Report||(800) 685-1111||(888) 397-3742||(800) 916-8800|
|Mailing Address||P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
|P.O. Box 2002
Allen, TX 75013
|P.O. Box 1000
Chester, PA 19022
Merchant Check Guarantee Firms
Report any credit union or bank account set up fraudulently under your name to:
- Telecheck (800) 366-2425
- National Processing Company (800) 526-5380
- SCAN (800) 262-7771
- CheckRite (800) 766-2748
- CrossCheck (800) 552-1900
- Market Block List (888) 567-8688
These agencies will place information in their systems about checks that are reported as stolen or lost. They will also make note of accounts that were opened for the purpose of true name fraud. This information is then made available to merchants who subscribe to their service.
Social Security Services
Report victimization and improper use of your Social Security Number to the SSA Hotline at (800) 269-0271. For additional information, visit your local Social Security office.
United States Post Office and Local Police Department
- United States Postal Inspectors Office Contact your local post office to report any crime involving stolen mail, or use of mail in furtherance of a fraudulent scheme.
- Local Police Department File a police report with your local police department. Make sure you keep a copy of the report for your records.
Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
If your driver's license is stolen, report the theft immediately to your local DMV. Ensure that a duplicate license was not recently issued in your name to an imposter.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
The FTC Consumer Response Center provides information, logs complaints, and helps victims of identity theft rectify damage to their credit and personal reputation. Contact the FTC through one of these methods:
- (877) FTC-HELP
- FTC Consumer Response Center