Fraud is a method to obtain money or property from an individual through deceptive statements or acts. There are many types of fraud.
If you think you are the victim of fraud, you should report your concerns to an Alaska USA member service representative and your local FBI office. Provide as much information as possible about the perpetrators, including printouts of emails, and details of phone conversations.
People from all age groups, backgrounds, and income levels can be the target of a scam - there is no one thing that makes a person likely to be a target. Following some very simple guidelines can go a long way toward protecting your finances and private information.
- Always know who you’re dealing with – Scammers thrive by making themselves appear legitimate. No reputable organization will ever ask you for money or personal information via the phone, text message, or email. Never give out personal information if you were not the one to initiate contact, and if you’re even slightly unsure, contact the organization directly using their national toll free number. Remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Watch out for bullies – Scammers will often use a sense of urgency to rush you into making a mistake with your personal information. Scammers can act threatening, pretend something is time sensitive, or even appeal to your sense of charity. Remember, there’s no financial transaction that’s such an emergency that it can’t wait until you verify its authenticity.
- Secure your mobile devices and computer – There’s often a lot more personal information on our devices than we realize. Simply locking your mobile phone or tablet, and password securing your computer when not in use, can go a long way toward safeguarding your information. Change your password periodically, and only connect to public wi-fi from sources you recognize or trust. While members are ultimately responsible for their account transactions, Alaska USA has trained fraud specialists on staff to assist if the need arises. Promptly informing a member service representative is the first step in protecting your account.
- Identity Theft
Identity theft is not a new problem, but it is a growing one. As more and more of our personal information is stored digitally, it pays to be extra vigilant in protecting your electronic data as much as your paper information – prevention is the best way to stop identity thieves.
How to protect yourself
- Never give out, or write down personal identification numbers (PINs) or your password. Even if you trust the person you’re giving it to, they may be more careless than you are.
- Change your passwords periodically, and make sure your financial passwords are unique from your email or other passwords.
- Review your credit card and account statements as soon as you receive them to check for any charges or withdrawals you did not make.
- Sign up to get your financial statements electronically. If you still receive paper statements and bills, make sure to shred them before throwing them away.
- Avoid emailing or texting confidential and financial information.
- Most importantly: Check your credit report annually, for free, at AnnualCreditReport.com. Review it thoroughly to make sure that there are no accounts that you did not open.
- Report lost or stolen checks and debit or credit cards immediately.
- Always keep your debit and credit cards in a safe and secure place.
- Do not give out your card number over the phone unless you initiated the call using the phone number on the back of your card or the company’s website.
- If you receive a replacement debit or credit card, cut up and discard your old card.
What to do if you’re a victim
A credit freeze will totally “lock” your credit – no one will be able to access your credit file without you unfreezing the file first. To place a credit freeze, contact each of the nationwide credit reporting agencies:
- Equifax (800) 349-9960
- Experian (888) 397-3742
- TransUnion (888) 909-8872
You’ll supply them your name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, and other personal information they’ll need to authenticate your identity.
After receiving your freeze request, each credit reporting company will send you a confirmation letter containing a unique PIN or password. Keep the PIN or password in a safe place. You will need it if you choose to lift the freeze.
A fraud alert will allow institutions to pull your credit, but they will receive a notice requiring that they call you to verify before proceeding. To place a fraud alert contact Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion and provide them the same information you would if you were reporting a credit freeze. A fraud alert is free to place but only remains on your file for 90 days. You will provide a contact number that financial institutions will call when presented with new account and loan requests. After 90 days, you can call and renew the alert.
- Contact all financial institutions where you have accounts and request that your accounts be notated that you are the victim of identity theft.
- File a report with your local law enforcement as well as the Federal Trade Commission reporting the theft.
- Visit IdentityTheft.gov, the federal government’s one-stop resource for victims of identity theft.
Remember – even though your personal information may be compromised, it provides criminals no value if you take measures to adequately protect yourself!
Financial exploitation – the illegal use of a vulnerable adult’s finances – is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States. Unfortunately, this crime is most often perpetrated by a family member or trusted friend of the victim.
Common methods of financial exploitation
- Using the Power of Attorney given by the victim to allow another person to handle their finances.
- Taking advantage of joint accounts.
- Stealing checks or using the victims ATM card to withdraw funds.
- Threats to abandon or harm the victim in some way, unless they comply with demands
- Privacy & Security
At Alaska USA, the security of your account information is a top priority. Learn how the credit union is diligently protecting all member accounts and what you can do to protect yourself from fraud, identity theft, and phishing.
Alaska USA protects your account information
- Privacy summary: How Alaska USA uses and protects member information.
- Online security: Alaska USA uses industry-leading technology to protect your information.
- Alaska USA will never call or email you asking for your account information. When you call the credit union, you will be asked questions to verify your identity.
- The credit union uses sophisticated fraud-monitoring tools to review debit and credit card transactions and detect unusual spending patterns to help prevent fraud. Submit a travel notification in UltraBranch or call the Member Service Center to update your contact information if you plan to travel overseas.
To report cyber or Internet fraud
- www.ic3.gov: The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National White Collar Crime Center, and the Bureau of Justice Assistance, accepts online Internet crime complaints from either the person who believes they were defrauded or from a third party to the complainant.
- Text 7726: In an attempt to establish a communications industry standard for dealing with scams, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon are offering a new service for consumers who receive texts that may involve scams. If you receive a fraudulent text, forward it to 7726.
- FTC - Internet consumer information: Internet related consumer protection information from the Federal Trade Commission.
- www.TruthOrFiction.com: Is there any truth to the latest story or warning you received via email?
- USA.gov: A comprehensive listing of fraud and scams to watch for, as well as resources to protect yourself.
The three major credit reporting agencies
- Equifax (800) 349-9960
- Experian (888) 397-3742
- TransUnion (888) 909-8872
Request a yearly credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com