Our post, Latest Phone Scam Uses Verity’s Good Name, spurred some comments that led to this post. Written by Verity Fraud Officer, Melissa.

Fraudsters are not picky on who they target; information is information and can be used. But how these fraudsters obtain your information is the concern! Verity Credit Union has not had a security breach, so how could your information be out there? Here are a few ideas of how this can happen and what you need to do as an individual to protect yourself.

Phishing: emails/phone calls trying to obtain information about you or your banking information:

  • If you are unsure of an email and its validity, don’t click or respond! Key loggers, Trojans and viruses are so easy to embed into a link or attach to an email.
  • If you receive a call that seems “odd” – don’t share any information! Hang-up and call Verity Credit Union right away. Let us assist in validating if the call is legitimate.
  • Remember, you do not have to click or share. Verity Credit Union is more than happy to assist in validating if the email/phone call is legitimate.

Dumpster diving: What type of mail are you throwing away? Empty prescription bottles with who your doctor is? Banking envelopes? Receipts for purchases?

  • Be mindful of what you’re throwing away; fraudsters are in no rush, if they’re dumpster diving they’re exhausting all avenues to obtain information about you.
  • Verity Credit Union has Shred-a-Thons that allow you to securely dispose of sensitive information. Purchase a shredder or burn sensitive documents.
  • Check your credit reports on a regular basis! This is tip is so important.

Mail theft: How do you receive your mail? Secure lock box? PO Box? Mail box out in front of your street, where people can walk by and open it? How do you send your mail? What type of information can be stolen when mail theft occurs? Bank account #, debit cards, PIN, home address/phone #, statements, birthday cards, etc. This is a serious issue and one that people overlook.

  • I always encourage people to send their mail by dropping it off at a U.S. Post Office box or dropping it off inside the Post Office.
  • Check your mail every day. Even locked mail boxes can be opened in less then a minute with a crow-bar.

Social Networking: Do you Twitter or Facebook? Or maybe you’re on LinkedIn with your profession and where you work? How much information do you have available to the world? Email addresses, titles, past employers, current employer, family members, where you’re taking your vacation, dog’s name, date of birth (Happy Birthday!), etc.

  • Do you have your profiles public or set to private? If it is open to the public, what kind of information are you sharing with the world? Birthday? Mom/dad? Kids? Home town?
  • Have you ever Googled your name? What type of information comes up? Home address? Phone number? Employer?
  • I tell my family/friends to be mindful of what information they share and to change their passwords every six months. The internet is great, but is also a great tool for fraudsters.

Security breaches at other organizations: can put all your information at risk.

  • Sony – Names, emails address, phone #’s, User ID, Password, Credit Card Bin/Debit Card Bin
  • Michaels – Debit card #’s/Credit Card #’s
  • TJ Maxx – Debit card #’s/ Credit Card #’s

When you add some of these scenarios together it gives the fraudsters a perfect opportunity to steal someone’s identity and/or commit financial fraud. When stealing an identity, it is an act that takes time – gathering information and holding it until the puzzle is complete. And if I have scared you, I do apologize as that was not my intention, but knowledge is power. Be mindful, be aware and be informed – it is the greatest way to fight fraudsters.

Melina Young

My name is Melina Young and I am the director of marketing at Verity Credit Union. I love everything to do with marketing, advertising, public relations and social media – especially all the research that goes into making a product or service really work for our members and making sure the right people hear about it. In addition to my time spent marketing, I have a blog and write about celiac disease, which I was diagnosed with in 2010. Basically, I can’t eat any of those foods we all love that are made with wheat, barley or rye.

I have also recently started running and completed my first 5k in 2011. Some people may not know that I used to do a lot of acting, dancing and singing in my life. I was in a Nike commercial with Gary Payton in junior high (if anyone ever finds the footage please send it my way!) and I used to compete as an opera singer in high school. I almost majored in musical theater in college, but I’m very glad with my decision to study marketing!

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