We all keep our money “locked in a vault” at a financial institution. We might have some valuables such as coins, gold, jewelry, etc that we keep stashed in a safe deposit vault. However, many of us do not take the proper measures to protect one of our most valuable assets. Our identities. Fraudsters are lurking all over, and the Internet makes identity theft a global reality. There are so many scams and schemes that one blog couldn’t cover them all, but I want to detail a few of the most common and what you can do to protect yourself from falling victim.
If you receive an email from what appears to be the Credit Union that says something along the lines of, “We need to verify your information,” DO NOT reply to this email. It would actually be wise to not even open this email. This is a scam used to get people to voluntarily give up personal information such as account numbers, social security numbers, etc. We have this information and will NEVER solicit it from you. These emails are usually easy to spot because they normally contain spelling and grammatical errors.
This is similar to phishing, however vishing is performed over the telephone. The criminal will call, often using a caller ID spoofer to make it seem as though the call originated from the Credit Union, and will use an automated message saying your card has been compromised, please call this number. When you call the number they will request that you verify your credit card number and other personal information. DO NOT provide this information. Again, the Credit Union will never solicit this from you and this information should never be provided. If you think that you are being targeted, utilize the published number for your institution and let them know what is going on.
3) Overseas Lottery Fraud
If you receive a letter saying you have won the lottery in Nigeria (most common) or anywhere else and the letter says they haven’t been able to reach you so they need to verify your account number to set up the wire transfer then you are probably being targeted for fraud. Just ask yourself if you have entered any Nigerian lotteries lately and that should be the easiest way to avoid this. Do not provide any information to these letters as they are just trying to steal your identity.
4) Public Network Hacking
Although free Wi-Fi is a great gift for when you are sitting in Starbucks or a hotel lobby, it carries a huge risk of becoming victim to hacking. It is very easy for hackers to gain access to any device connected to this public network and view each and every keystroke recorded. This means any account information, credit card number, or other personal information entered will be easily available to record. The easiest way to avoid identity theft in this situation is to avoid entering personal information on these networks. In addition, it would be wise to avoid putting in any passwords to email boxes because most of us use the same passwords for everything and fraudsters know this so if they get one, they will try it on everything.
These are just a few tips, and the criminals seem to always be a step ahead. Just remember, the Credit Union will NEVER solicit personal information from you and if you are being asked to provide this information, it is not us.