Internet & Identity Protection



The damage of fraud to your personal finances and credit could potentially take years to repair.The following information may help to protect your identity,
account security, personal information and even your home computer.

 
 

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Important Notice: PrimeSource Credit Union will never send you e-mail asking you to verify your information. If you ever receive such an email DO NOT RESPOND and immediately forward the entire email to:
report phishing@primesourcecu.org and call us at 509-838-6157 or toll free at 800-660-0444 and ask to speak with our Operations Manager.

General Security Tips and Information

Identity Theft 

Current Scam Known as "Vishing"

Beware of "Phishing" Scams 

Online Buying and Selling Tips

Counterfeit Checks

Foreign Lottery Scams

Home Computer Security 


 
General Security Tips and Information

The information below will assist you in protecting yourself against fraud and identity theft. If you're a member of PSCU and you feel that you have been a victim of identity theft, please contact us immediately. We are here to assist and help you.

Mail:

  • If you do not have a mailbox with a lock, be sure to pick up your incoming mail every day. Or, consider using a P.O. Box.  
  • Take outgoing mail to the Post Office.
  • Shred all credit type offers received in the mail. Never dispose of these items in the trash without shredding them first.
  • Make a list of all bills and statements you receive and the dates you normally receive them. If you're expecting a bill and you do not receive it, contact the issuer right away.

Telephone:

  • Never give private information, such as social security number, account or credit card numbers, passwords, etc. over the phone unless you initiated the call and are sure about giving out this information.
  • A credit union employee will not call you and ask you to provide sensitive account information. 
    You may receive a call from someone claiming to be a credit union employee, and they may ask for your account information (such as your credit card number, account number, etc.). In some cases, the caller has already obtained one identifying piece of information (such as your Social Security Number) and will use this to persuade you that the call is legitimate and that you need to provide additional account information. Do not provide the caller with any sensitive or personal information. Remember, the credit union will not call you and ask for this information. If you are unsure, hangup and call PrimeSource Credit Union, ask for a Member Service Representative to help you.
  • Don't agree to any offer or prize where you have to pay a registration or shipping fee, or send money, to claim the "prize."
  • Check out charities before you give. Ask for written information before you make a donation.
  • Don't be pressured to make an immediate decision.

Passwords:

  • Never write your password/PIN down where someone can find it.
  • Do not send your password or any other personally identifying information (i.e. social security number, account number, etc.) via e-mail.
  • Avoid easy-to-guess passwords/PINs, like birthdays, anniversaries, phone numbers, names, etc. 
    Use a combination of letters, numbers and symbols for passwords.
  • Keep your password/PIN private.

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 Identity Theft

Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information to obtain access to your existing accounts, or open new accounts or credit lines in your name. Thieves may gain access to your personal information in a number of ways:

  • Personal information stolen from your purse or wallet
  • Home break in
  • Automobile theft
  • Dumpster diving (stealing trash with personal information from a residential or business trash receptacle)
  • Personal information on your imprinted checks
  • Information you provide to a fraudulent telemarketer
  • Information you supply over the Internet

You can help avoid becoming a victim of identity theft by following the tips listed in the Mail, Telephone and Password sections of this page. You may also want to consider the following:

  • Do not print unnecessary information on your personal checks (i.e. phone number, drivers license). 
    Never print your Social Security Number on your checks.
  • Maintain an unlisted home phone number. This listing is just one more source of information for someone who has a desire to defraud you. You may also consider listing just your name and telephone number without an address.
  • Review your credit reports from the three credit reporting agencies at least once a year.
  • Opt out of pre-approved credit card offers by calling 1(888) 5-OPTOUT or (888) 567-8688
    This program establishes a two-year opt out. For permanent opt-out status, put your request in writing and send it to the three credit reporting agencies listed on this page.

If you are a victim of identity theft, contact the credit union immediately at (509) 838-6157 or toll free at
(800) 660-0444. You should also contact the three credit reporting agencies and ask them to place a fraud alert on your account:

Equifax: 1-800-685-1111
www.equifax.com

Experian: 1-888-397-3742
www.experian.com

Trans Union: 1-800-888-4213
www.transunion.com

The websites below provide more information about how to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft, and what to do if you are a victim: 

Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft

NCUA Website
www.ncua.gov

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Vishing

Current Scam Known as "Vishing"
Members and non-members of PrimeSource Credit Union should be aware that there are many types of fraud and scams that occur periodically. Most recently, Vishing scams (similar to “phishing” except these use cell phones and telephones) have been taking place. We would also like you to be aware that some scammers now have the technology to “mask” the telephone numbers they are calling from, so that the incoming call looks legitimate.

We would like to remind you that you should never ever give out your confidential or account information. These scams will only work if YOU give the scammers what they want—your account number, charge card number or social security number.

PrimeSource Credit Union does not solicit any account or card information by using automated message systems or text messages. However, we do have an automated fraud alert system for our credit cards.

Don’t be fooled! If you receive a suspicious call from someone who is asking for your personal account information, such as your credit card number, social security number, or one of your account numbers, hang up immediately and call your financial institution or the 1-800 number on the back of your credit card. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to call us at (800) 660-0444.

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Beware of "Phishing" Scams

Phishers know that consumers are more educated about Phishing attempts and have come up with a new way to obtain personal information. Most of us are familiar with the standard Phishing e-mails: you receive an e-mail that your account has been compromised, or that your account needs to be updated or it will be closed, and you are urged to click the link and enter the requested information (usually your account number, SSN, PIN, credit card number, etc.). 

The new Phishing e-mails that are making the rounds today offer a reward (usually money) if you complete a short survey about the company. The e-mail promises that you will not have to provide any sensitive information when you complete the survey. The survey will most likely contain the name and logo of the company, and may look very legitimate. You will be asked some simple questions that are not personal in nature. However, later in the survey you are asked to provide personal information so that the reward can be deposited into your account. The survey will now ask for your account number, credit card number, mother's maiden name, and a whole lot of other personal information that the phishers can use to open accounts in your name and perpetrate other types of fraud - including identity theft.

Remember - no legitimate business will ever ask for this kind of information in an e-mail. This is a fraudulent attempt to obtain your personal information for illegal purposes and you should not respond. Read on for more information about Phishing.

Phishing occurs when someone impersonates your financial institution, Internet service provider, credit card company, or some other entity and sends a bogus e-mail requesting your personal financial information (such as account number, credit card number, social security number, passwords, etc.). The e-mail will probably warn you of a serious problem that requires your immediate attention. It may use phrases like "Immediate attention required," or "Please contact us immediately about your account," or "You must update your account information immediately to maintain your account with us."

Phish e-mails look very official and often contain graphics and/or logos that are lifted from a legitimate company's web site. Because these e-mails look official, many people believe that they must respond to the request for information. The e-mail may include a link to what appears to be a legitimate web site. In reality, you're redirected to a phony web site that may look exactly like the web site of your financial institution, credit card company, etc. You're asked to provide personal information, which is then used by the thieves to gain access to your existing accounts and credit cards so they can loot your checking account or run up bills on your credit cards. In the worst case, you could find yourself a victim of identity theft. Your financial history and personal reputation can be damaged, and it can take years to unravel.

The credit union, another financial institution, or any other legitimate company will not send you an e-mail asking for your personal information. If you believe the e-mail (or phone call) may be legitimate, contact the business yourself. 

  • A financial institution will not ask you via e-mail to verify your ATM PIN or Social Security Number, for example. We do have procedures in place to verify your identity when YOU CALL US, and this is for your protection. We will never CALL YOU and ask for this information. 
  • Do not respond to any e-mail that asks for your personal information, and do not click on any link in an e-mail that requests your personal information. Delete any suspicious e-mails, or forward the e-mail to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at
  • Do not disclose any personal information (such as credit card numbers, social security number, birth date, passwords, account numbers, etc) to an unsolicited source, whether by e-mail, phone, online or mail. 
  • Ignore online pop-up windows asking for personal information, no matter how official they may look. 
  • Review your monthly statements for accuracy.

Here's what to do if you're a victim of a phishing scam:

  • Contact the credit union (and the company represented in the e-mail) immediately.
  • Immediately upon receipt, review all credit card and other account statements for unauthorized transactions.
  • If any of your statements are more than a day or two late, notify the appropriate companies immediately.
  • If you've disclosed personally identifying information, contact the three major credit reporting agencies listed above. They will help you determine if a fraud alert should be placed on your file, which will help prevent thieves from opening accounts in your name.
  • If your response to a Phish e-mail results in your becoming a victim of identity theft, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov and the Internet Crime Complaint Center. Click the "File a Complaint" link on screen.

Visit the Federal Trade Commission website for more information.

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 Online Buying and Selling Tips

Buying and selling online has become very popular. As with any sales transaction, you should exercise caution when transacting business online.

  • Do your research. Select an online company that has a good reputation.
  • Use common sense. If you feel uneasy about the online transaction, pass on it.
  • If you receive payment by check for an item you sell, make sure the check clears your account before sending the merchandise. Even cashier's checks can sometimes be fraudulent.
  • When buying online, get as much information about the seller and the merchandise as possible. If a picture isn't available online, ask the seller to send one via e-mail or postal service. Ask for the seller's address and phone number in case you need to contact him/her at a later date.
  • There are many options for paying online; select the option that you feel most comfortable with. Many online auction houses have payment protection programs. Do your research before making a decision.
  • Familiarize yourself with the online auction site's security, privacy, and online buying and selling policies.

Counterfeit Checks

With the advancement of computer technology, it has become easier for criminals to create counterfeit checks. This is often done with a simple desktop publishing software or a color copier. Some counterfeiters are better than others, and sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between a legitimate and counterfeit check. Here are some "red flags" to look for to identify a counterfeit check:

  • The check lacks perforations
  • The check number is missing, or if more than one check is present, the check number does not change
  • The font type varies on different areas of the check
  • Additions to the check (i.e. phone numbers) may be hand written
  • The maker's address is missing
  • The drawee's bank address is missing
  • The number coding on the bottom of the check is shiny. Genuine magnetic ink appears dull and non-glossy
  • The check number on the bottom of the check does not match the check number elsewhere on the check
  • The name of the payee appears to have been printed by a typewriter
  • The word VOID appears across the check

Counterfeit checks are frequently used to pay for purchases made on the Internet. In this type of scam, the purchaser tells the seller that they will send a Cashiers Check for the purchase price, including shipping costs. Frequently, the purchaser will also say that since the shipping costs aren't known at that time, they will send more than enough money to cover this cost. The purchaser asks the seller to wire the excess funds back once they receive the check and ship the goods.

Unfortunately, when the seller realizes that the Cashier's Check is fraudulent, they will not only be out their merchandise and the shipping charge, but also the money that they wired back to the seller prior to finding out the check is bad.

Read more about counterfeit check scams at the Federal Trade Commission's web site.

Foreign Lottery Scams

Remember the old saying, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is"? This is especially true of phone calls or mail solicitations offering instant wealth through foreign lotteries.

Here's an example of a lottery scam:

"Congratulations! You may receive a certified check for up to $400,000,000 U.S. CASH! One Lump sum! Tax free! Your odds to WIN are 1-6." "Hundreds of U.S. citizens win every week using our secret system! You can win as much as you want!"

Of course, all you need to do is provide your credit card number or bank account number to purchase the lottery tickets. And when you do, the lottery hustlers will make unauthorized withdrawals or run up charges on your credit card. You'll never get the lottery tickets you were promised.

The FTC has these words of caution for consumers who are thinking about responding to a foreign lottery:

  • If you play a foreign lottery through the mail or over the telephone you're violating federal law. There are no secret systems for winning foreign lotteries. Your chances of winning more than the cost of your tickets are slim to none.
  • If you purchase one foreign lottery ticket, expect many more bogus offers for lottery or investment "opportunities." Your name will be placed on "sucker lists" that fraudulent telemarketers buy and sell.
  • Keep your credit card and bank account numbers to yourself. Scam artists often ask for them during an unsolicited sales pitch.

The bottom line, according to the FTC: Ignore all mail and phone solicitations for foreign lottery promotions. If you receive what looks like lottery material from a foreign country, give it to your local postmaster.

Other lottery scams proclaim that you are a winner in a foreign lottery (which you didn't even enter). All you have to do to collect your winnings is send a "contest fee" to cover expenses associated with the lottery and taxes. You're also instructed not to tell anyone that you have won the lottery - especially bank employees, or you will lose your winnings. If you send the fee, whether by mail or through a wire transfer, you'll never see your money or the lottery winnings again.

Another lottery scam involves overnight courier services to give the appearance of legitimacy. You receive a letter that you have won a lot of money (let's say $50,000) in a foreign lottery (typically Canada or Australia). You call the number in the letter and are told that in a few days you will receive a letter and a check to cover the cost of the lottery fees and taxes. The letter arrives by overnight courier service (like FedEx) along with a check (let's say it's for $2,200). The letter explains that the fees and taxes are part of federal law, and you can use the check to cover the costs.

Since the check looks very real, you deposit it into your account and then, as instructed, you write a check out of your account for the fees (or you wire transfer the fees). Of course, their check is fake and now you're out the $2,200.

Here are five tips from ScamBusters.org about these scams:

  • First of all, playing any kind of cross-border lottery system is a violation of Federal law, and law enforcement officials ARE paying attention. It's illegal. Don't do it!
  • You can't win a prize in a lottery if you didn't buy a lottery ticket.
  • Real lotteries don't ask you to pay a fee. If you have to write a check to win a lottery prize, it's a scam. Never, ever send any money for "processing fees," or share any other financial information, in order to claim a prize.
  • Never fill out any prize forms or "claims" either through snail mail or online -- you may end up on scammers' "sucker" lists as a result, which means you'll just get more solicitations.
  • Don't believe -- or pay for -- any "secret systems" that will help you win lotteries. If someone really had a foolproof secret system to win lotteries, why would they sell it to you?

Home Computer Security

Firewalls

Firewalls, virus protection software, network intrusion detection systems, and encryption are just some of the ways the credit union protects your account information from unauthorized access. How you protect your personal computer is just as important to the security of your personal information. If you plan to use your computer in an online environment, you need to educate yourself about computer security.

Anti-Virus
A virus is a computer program that replicates itself and can harm other programs and files on your computer. Anti-virus software is designed to protect your computer against known viruses. There are many anti-virus software programs available. Keep in mind that with new viruses emerging daily, the program needs regular updates to recognize and prevent new viruses from infecting your computer.

Spyware
Spyware is a program installed on your computer, without your knowledge, that is used to "spy" on you as you navigate the Internet. The spyware tracks your web site visits and then sends you advertisements it thinks may appeal to you. Some spyware may even capture user ID and password information you provide online when accessing accounts or placing online orders. Visit this link for more information on Security Tools.

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