As your credit union and trusted financial partner, we felt it necessary to better educate our members on fraud. With the increased use of debit and credit cards to conveniently make purchases in stores and online, it unfortunately does come with some risk. Although there isn’t anything you can do to completely remove these risks, there are steps you can take to remain vigilant to catch these situations as quickly as possible.
How does fraud happen?
There are a number of ways that fraud can take place, but here are some of the common ones:
- Using your debit or credit card to make an online purchase on an unsecured website
- Data breach of a website or store where you’ve used your debit or credit card (keep in mind that a breach could be from years ago, but your card information could still be compromised)
- Breach of a third party payment application where your payment information is stored
- Scam callers that trick you into giving out personal information, including payment information
- Scam emails or text messages that trick you into giving out personal information, including payment information
- Using public Wi-Fi or an unsecured network when accessing your banking accounts online
Unfortunately, fraud has become a part of our everyday lives. We have to constantly be vigilant for possible ways that scammers may try to steal our information.
What can you do to help prevent fraud?
When shopping online, make sure the site you are using is secure. For example, when making a payment on a website, you should see the symbol of a lock next to the URL. This indicates that the site is secure. If you don’t see this symbol, reconsider making that purchase.
When using third party payment applications, make sure that you have a secure password that is unique to that site. Not having a strong, secure password could leave your payment information at risk.
If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from your financial institution or asking for any kind of sensitive information, hang up. Even if the call is legitimate, it’s better to be safe and call them back directly. All you need to do is call back the bank or credit union using the number found on their website or in the phone book. Ask them about the phone call you received and if there is a legitimate problem with your account. Remember, sensitive information could be your social security number, online banking login information, account access codes, account number, or your debit and credit card information. Your financial institution will never ask you for this information.
Keep in mind that phone numbers can be spoofed. This is when a fraudster makes it look like the call is coming from a legitimate business or your financial institution. This is also why you shouldn’t press redial in these situations. Look up the actual phone number and dial it yourself.
If you receive a check in the mail that you were not expecting, it’s always a good idea to check with your financial institution to see if the check is valid. Many times, scammers will forge checks to make it look like you’re receiving a legitimate check from a financial institution, but the check is in fact not real. It could also come in the form of a larger scam where you are asked to deposit the check and send money back to an organization in exchange for some kind of prize or service. It is a red flag if you are asked to send back money in any way.
If in doubt, always call or visit your financial institution to investigate the check first.
We also do not recommend accessing your online banking or making payments on a website when using public Wi-Fi or an unsecured network. This could leave your device vulnerable and possibly compromise your information.
How can I catch fraud if it’s happening to me?
The best advice we can give is to be vigilant with your accounts. Utilize tools like Online Banking and monitor your accounts regularly. Check the transactions that have cleared your account and make sure that they are purchases that you made. We also offer alerts! Sign up for these so you can be notified when any transactions are made. You can set up the parameters for the alerts and have it emailed or texted to you. For example, set up an alert to notify you any time a transaction over $1.00 clears your account. This will help you catch unauthorized transactions very quickly.
You may also check your monthly statements to verify that all the transactions listed were made by you. Just keep in mind, that these transactions could be a month old.
If you do find a transaction that you did not make, contact your financial institution immediately.
Does HFS have a Fraud Detection System?
Yes, HFS does have a Fraud Detection System that can flag possible fraudulent transactions and notify you. However, we still recommend that all members follow the advice above and be vigilant in monitoring their accounts.
If I notice fraudulent activity, what happens now?
The very first thing to do is contact your bank or credit union. Let them know specifically which transaction is fraudulent and request their assistance with filing a dispute. At this time, our card processor will work with the store to determine if the charge was indeed fraudulent. Unfortunately in some cases, the store may claim the purchase to be legitimate. At this point, if you still disagree with the outcome, you’ll need to contact the store directly to further pursue this claim.
You should also request a new debit or credit card since your current card information was compromised. If the fraud occurred directly on your savings or checking account, the entire account should be closed and a new one should be opened. Although this is an inconvenience, it is well worth the effort to protect yourself in the future.
These scammers are good (here are some examples)
Story: Tom received a call from a gentleman claiming to be a representative from ABC Credit Union (the phone number on the caller ID was correct too). The representative claimed that Tom’s debit card had a fraudulent charge on it, so he was calling to assist him. All he would need is Tom’s PIN to confirm his identity, and then he could file the dispute.
What went wrong: Chances are, in this case, the scammer already had Tom’s card information from a previous data breach and only needed his PIN to be able to use it. When Tom received this call, he should have hung up immediately and called his credit union directly to inquire. Even if the phone number seemed to be correct, this can easily be spoofed by fraudsters.
Story: Pam doesn’t shop online. She’s afraid that someone will steal her information. One day when Pam received her monthly account statement, she noticed a charge for $1.50 from MusicBot on her debit card. She doesn’t use MusicBot and never bought anything online.
What went wrong: Unfortunately XYZ Store, a chain big box store in town had a data breach 3 years ago. Pam has been shopping there for years! Although the breach happened a while ago, her card information is still compromised. She never requested to get a new debit card. Often times, fraudsters will make continuous small purchases like these. It’s not enough to make you immediately check your account, but does add up over time.
Story: Shelly received a call from a young lady claiming to be from 123 Bank. She stated that Shelly’s online banking account had been compromised. To verify her identity, she would be sending a secure access code to Shelly’s phone. She’d just need to read it back to her.
What went wrong: Your secure access code is for your eyes only. Aside from your username and password, this is the third layer of security to protect your online account. In this situation, the fraudster already had Shelly’s log in information. The code was the last piece she needed.
Story: Fred signed up for #1 Movies. It was free and the perfect way to pass the summer. He thought it was a little curious that he needed to provide his credit card information, but didn’t think much of it. Two months later, he saw a $29.99 charge on his credit card.
What went wrong: Be wary of anything claiming to be free. Often times these are free trials for a limited time. Be sure to read the fine print which will state how long the free trial is available and how to cancel the subscription. Although this isn’t necessarily fraud, it’s quite common.