Be Alert to Fraud

Your security, our priority whether it's online or in person.  

Don't invest in anything based on appearances. Just because an individual or company has a flashy Web site doesn't mean it is legitimate. Web sites can easily be created. After a short period of taking money, a site can vanish without a trace.

Don’t invest in anything you are not absolutely sure about. Do your homework on the investment to ensure that it is legitimate.

Do your homework on the individual or company to ensure that they are legitimate.

Check out other Web sites regarding this person/company.

Don't judge a person/company by their Web site.

Be cautious when responding to special investment offers (especially through unsolicited e-mail).

Be cautious when dealing with individuals/companies from outside your own country.

Inquire about all the terms and conditions.

If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

For additional information see the Federal Trade Commission Web site on Identity theft and fraud prevention.

 

Steps to Take if You Become a Victim 

1. Contact one of the three credit bureaus below to request that an initial 90-day fraud alert be added to you personal file. By requesting a 90-day fraud alert, anyone seeking credit in your name will have to have their identity verified. The credit bureau that was contacted will automatically send an alert to the other agencies. The fraud alert will entitle you to a free credit report.  You can also obtain a free credit report from each of the reporting agencies annually by going to http://www.annualcreditreport.com .

TransUnion
(800) 680-7289
Fraud Victim Assistance Division
P O Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834-6790
http://www.transunion.com 

Equifax
(800) 525-6285
P O Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
http://www.equifax.com

Experian
(888) 397-3742
P O Box 9532
Allen, TX 75013
http://www.experian.com

2. Notify your bank(s) and ask them to flag your account and look for unusual activity.  If checks were stolen place stop payments on them immediately.  If accounts were set up without your consent or knowledge close them, and if your ATM card was compromised request a a new card, account number and PIN.

3. Notify your credit card issuers. If unauthorized charges appear on your credit card accounts or if unauthorized cards have been issued in your name: request replacement cards with new account numbers; and monitor your credit card accounts for fraudulent activity. If this has occurred, report it to the card issuers and credit reporting agency immediately.

4. Check with any online accounts, merchants or payment services that you use for any fraudulent activity on your account.

5. Contact appropriate police department to file a criminal report.

6. Contact the Social Security Administration’s Fraud Hotline (800) 269-0271 to report unauthorized use of your Social Security Number.

7. Notify the Department of Motor Vehicles of your identity theft. Check for license numbers issued in your name.

8. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. The URL for the Federal Trade Commission is http://www.consumer.gov or call 877-438-4338 to review the information available in the “Take Charge: Fighting Back Against Identity Theft” brochure or to file a complaint.

9. Contact the local office of the United States Postal Service or go to its website at www.usps.com/websites/depart/inspect/ and file and “identity Theft via US Mail” complaint form with the Postal Inspector.

10. Document the names and phone numbers of everyone you deal with regarding the incident. Follow up your phone call with letters. Keep copies of all correspondence.

 

Signs You Are Being Scammed 

If you can answer “YES” to any of these questions you could be involved in a FRAUD or about to be SCAMMED:

  • You received a CHECK for an item you sold on the Internet, such as a car, boat, jewelry, etc.
  • Is the amount of the CHECK MORE THAN THE SELLING PRICE?
  • Did you receive the CHECK via an overnight delivery service?
  • Is the CHECK connected to communicating with someone by email?
  • Is the CHECK drawn on a business or person that is different from the person buying your item or product?
  • Have you been informed that you were the winner of a LOTTERY, such as Canadian, Australian, El Gordo, or El Mundo, that you did not enter?
  • Have you been instructed to “WIRE”, “SEND” or “SHIP” MONEY, as soon as possible, to a large U.S. City or to another country, such as Canada, England, or Nigeria?
  • Have you been asked to PAY money to receive a deposit from another country such as Canada, England, or Nigeria?
  • Are you receiving PAY or a COMMISSION for facilitating money transfers through you account?
  • Did you respond to an email requesting you to CONFIRM, UPDATE, OR PROVIDE you account information?


Identity Theft 
 

E-mail fraud is a common tool of an identity thief. It can take many forms, but is usually harsh, demanding and scary. Here are some examples:
 

Phishing scams now have a phone connection

First, it was phishing, where criminals send e-mail by the thousands in hopes of tricking unsuspecting consumers into sharing confidential information. These messages often include a link to a fraudulent Web site.
 

Now, there’s phishing. In this latest twist, they use a telephone number instead. When you call, a person or an automated response asks for your personal and/or account information.
 

Don't fall for it!
 

When you call your bank, use only a phone number that comes from a reputable source, like your statement, the back of your credit or debit card or the phonebook.
 

Phishing (pronounced fishing) is where the sender poses as a company to trick users into giving away personal or account information.
 

Illegitimate offers are e-mails that entice users to purchase popular goods or services at reduced prices (or before they're available to the general public), with no intent to deliver those purchases. Usually, these e-mails are designed primarily to obtain credit card or bank account information.
 

Requests for help usually offer a recipient large sums of money or attractive rewards in exchange for short term financial assistance. One common example is the sender who asks the user to supply a bank account number to hold large sums of money until the sender can retrieve it. In exchange, the recipient is promised a percentage of the deposit. The sender uses the bank account number for fraudulent activity, and the recipient never receives the promised funds.


Phishing 

 

Phishing (pronounced fishing) is when criminals use e-mail to try to lure you to fake websites, where you’re asked to disclose confidential financial and personal information, like passwords, credit card account numbers or Social Security Numbers.
 

The most common type of phish is an e-mail threatening some dire consequence if you do not immediately log in and take action.
 

You should never respond or reply to e-mail that:
 

  • Requires you to enter personal information directly into the e-mail or submit that information some other way.
  • Threatens to close or suspend your account if you do not take immediate action by providing personal information.
  • Solicits your participation in a survey where you are asked to enter personal information.
  • States that your account has been compromised or that there has been third-party activity on your account and requests you to enter or confirm your account information.
  • States that there are unauthorized charges on your account and requests your account information.
  • Asks you to enter your User ID, password or account numbers into an e-mail or non-secure webpage.
  • Asks you to confirm, verify, or refresh your account, credit card, or billing information.

 

Avoiding Credit Card Fraud 

 

Don't give out your credit card number(s) online unless the site is a secure and reputable site. Sometimes a tiny icon of a padlock appears to symbolize a higher level of security to transmit data. This icon is not a guarantee of a secure site, but might provide you some assurance.
 

Don't trust a site just because it claims to be secure. Before using the site, check out the security/encryption software it uses.
 

Make sure you are purchasing merchandise from a reputable source.

Do your homework on the individual or company to ensure that they are legitimate. Try to obtain a physical address rather than merely a post office box and a phone number, call the seller to see if the number is correct and working. Consider not purchasing from sellers who won't provide you with this type of information
 

Send them an e-mail to see if they have an active e-mail address and be wary of sellers who use free e-mail services where a credit card wasn’t required to open the account.
 

Check with the Better Business Bureau from the seller’s area.
 

Check out other Web sites regarding this person/company.
 

Don’t judge a person/company by their web site.
 

Be cautious when responding to special offers (especially through unsolicited e-mail).
 

Be cautious when dealing with individuals/companies from outside your own country.
 

The safest way to purchase items via the Internet is by credit card because you can often dispute the charges if something is wrong.
 

Make sure the transaction is secure when you electronically send your credit card numbers.
 

You should also keep a list of all your credit cards and account information along with the card issuers contact information. If anything looks suspicious or you lose your credit card(s) you should contact the card issuer immediately.

 

 

Avoiding Internet Auction Fraud
 

Understand as much as possible about how the auction works, what your obligations are as a buyer, and what the seller's obligations are before you bid.
 

Find out what actions the Web site/company takes if a problem occurs and consider insuring the transaction and shipment.
 

Learn as much as possible about the seller, especially if the only information you have is an e-mail address. If it is a business, check the Better Business Bureau where the seller/business is located.
 

Examine the feedback on the seller.
 

Determine what method of payment the seller is asking from the buyer and where he/she is asking to send payment.
 

If a problem occurs with the auction transaction, it could be much more difficult if the seller is located outside the US because of the difference in laws.
 

Ask the seller about when delivery can be expected and if there is a problem with the merchandise is it covered by a warranty or can you exchange it.
 

Find out if shipping and delivery are included in the auction price or are additional costs so there are no unexpected costs.
 

There should be no reason to give out your social security number or drivers license number to the seller.

 

Avoiding Non-Delivery 
 

Make sure you are purchasing merchandise from a reputable source.
 

Do your homework on the individual or company to ensure that they are legitimate.
 

Try to obtain a physical address rather than merely a post office box and a phone number, call the seller to see if the number is correct and working.
 

Send them e-mail to see if they have an active e-mail address and be wary of sellers who use free e-mail services where a credit card wasn’t required to open the account.
 

Consider not purchasing from sellers who won't provide you with this type of information.
 

Check with the Better Business Bureau from the seller’s area.

Check out other Web sites regarding this person/company.
 

Don’t judge a person/company by their Web site.
 

Be cautious when responding to special offers (especially through unsolicited e-mail).
 

Be cautious when dealing with individuals/companies from outside your own country.
 

Inquire about returns and warranties.
 

The safest way to purchase items via the Internet is by credit card because you can often dispute the charges if something is wrong.
 

Make sure the transaction is secure when you electronically send your credit card numbers.

Consider utilizing an escrow or alternate payment service