The fact is, criminals are always looking for opportunities to defraud and steal money from bank accounts. While it's true that it's still possible to be victimized even if you take all reasonable measures to protect yourself, minimizing the chances that your accounts will be targeted is still the best route to avoiding fraud and theft.
Here are some tips to keep in mind to protect your accounts:
- Know that Gulf Coast Community Federal Credit Union will NEVER contact members by text, phone or emails asking for account information. When in doubt, contact our offices directly.
- Before you share information in public, at work, school, doctor's office, etc. ask why they need it, and how they keep it safe.
- Carry only the cards and checks you need when you go out, leave your social security card safely at home.
- Have new checks delivered to a secure mailbox, take out-going mail with checks (or other such information) directly to a post office collection box.
- Be aware of phishing scams, (tricks criminals use to obtain your personal information), and the ways to avoid them such as:
- Don't click on email links, or open attachments, from unknown email senders.
- If communication from a known sender seems uncharacteristic or strange, contact them directly by other means to verify it really came from them.
- Don't overshare on social networking sites -- it can make it easier to guess passwords and secret answers to "challenge" questions on your accounts.
- Be wise about wi-fi and don't send personal information over a public, wireless network; use a secure wireless network instead. Also, use data encryption software that scrambles information sent over the internet.
- Keep passwords private, long and hard-to-guess. Don't keep them written somewhere that's easy to find.
- Lock up your laptop and don't use an auto-login tool for websites that keep your sensitive information.
- Be pro-active when disposing of items with personal information, such as:
- Thoroughly shred documents with account numbers, names, birth dates, addresses, phone numbers, health and other personal information.
- Shred credit offers, credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, checks, bank statements, expired charge cards and receipts when not needed.
The Federal Trade Commission website has a large amount of valuable information on all sorts of ways to keep you and your loved ones safer. We encourage you to learn more about risks and ways to protect yourself.
If you feel you may be the victim of account fraud or theft, please contact us immediately. Then, contact your local police department, and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission:
Identity Theft Clearinghouse
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580