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Identity Theft 

What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft is a crime in which an imposter obtains key pieces of identification, such as Social Security and driver’s license numbers, and uses the information for their own personal gain.  It is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the United States.  Identity theft can create havoc on your personal life.  Once your personal information has been stolen, you may be refused loans, educational opportunities, checking accounts, and job offers.  Retailers may refuse your checks when you make purchases.  In some instances, you may even be arrested for crimes you did not commit.  Victims of identity theft spend a substantial amount of time and money trying to straighten out their lives.  Identity theft victims can be haunted for years after the crime has occurred.  

(Listed below are some examples of the types of fraud committed through identity theft :) 

Examples of Financial Fraud 

  • Bank Fraud
  • Credit Card Fraud
  • Computer and Telecommunications Fraud
  • Tax Refund Fraud
  • Mail Fraud

Examples of Criminal Activities 

  • Computer and Cyber Crime
  • Organized Crime
  • Drug Trafficking
  • Alien Smuggling
  • Money Laundering

Click Hereto learn about Identity Theft, sponsored by the Federal Trade Commission    


What is Phishing? 

Phishing is an activity in which a phisher attempts to acquire someone’s sensitive information, such as passwords and credit card details, by pretending to be a trustworthy person or business in an electronic communication.  Phishing is typically carried out using e-mail or an instant message.  Phishers use this communication to lure people into fake Web sites to obtain personal information and commit identity theft. Victims receive fraudulent communications containing authentic-looking logos and familiar graphics. They often will lead to a “spoofed” or fake site that looks authentic. You’re asked to divulge account information or other personal data such as usernames, passwords, and Social Security numbers.  Your credit union will never send you an e-mail asking for personal data. We already have that information.  

If you’ve mistakenly given your information to someone, call the company that’s been spoofed right away. If you’re quick enough, you might be able to change your password or account number in time to stop unauthorized transactions. 

If you believe you have received a suspicious e-mail purporting to be from the credit union, please forward the information to us by email. The matter will be investigated and you will receive a response in a timely manner.



What is Vishing?


Vishing, or voice phishing, is a twist on the phishing scam.  Vishing scammers set up phone numbers through Internet-telephone services, then lure victims to disclose account numbers and other personal information over the phone with automated voice prompts.


Vishing is initiated by an e-mail that may appear to be from your financial institution or an online merchant. The message may claim your account has been disabled due to unauthorized access, or that your information needs to be verified to continue using the account or to prevent fraudulent activity.

Rather than linking to a look-alike web site made for gathering information, as phishing scams do, vishing scams provide a phone number to call. These phone numbers can be set up with voice prompts that sound perfectly legitimate.


The Federal Trade Commission recommends never turning over private information based on an e-mail request. Know that Federal Credit Union will never ask for your personal information via e-mail.


If you’ve mistakenly given your information to someone, call the company that’s been spoofed right away. If you’re quick enough, you might be able to change your password or account number in time to stop unauthorized transactions.


If you believe you have received a suspicious e-mail purporting to be from the credit union, please forward the information to us by email.The matter will be investigated and you will receive a response in a timely manner.



Smishing (SMS phISHING) is the text message version of phishing. A text message is sent to the user’s cell phone or other mobile device requesting the user to click on a link. The link causes a Trojan virus to be installed on the cell phone or other mobile device.


How to protect yourself from being “phished,” ”vished” or “smished”

  • Install a firewall as your first line of defense. This is a primary block between you and other computers on the network. Also install, run, and update anti-virus and anti-spyware programs.
  • Use web sites marked "https;" the "s" indicates a secure location
  • Bookmark Federal Building FCU’s web address,, so you’ll always be sure you’re on the correct site
  • Ensure your browser is up-to-date with security patches.
  • Never use e-links within e-mail to visit a web site. Open a new browser window and type the URL (uniform resource locator) in the address bar.
  • Don’t fill out e-mailed forms that ask for personal information. The only way you should send credit card or account information is through a secure web site – you’ll see https (s for secure) and the padlock icon on the browser frame; click on the lock to view the security certificate.
  • Don’t call phone numbers listed in suspicious correspondence. You can trust that when you call our main number, 877-523-3110, you can safely access your account information
  • Be cautious of urgent e-mails requesting personal information. Phony e-mails often include upsetting or exciting statements to get people to respond. Don’t. If a company or financial institution really needs to update your expired credit card number, for instance, you’ll be able to take care of it the next time you make a transaction, or by a telephone call you place to the company’s customer service number on the card.
  • Do not respond to requests for your personal information
  • Be wary of any message received from an unknown sender
  • Be suspicious if someone claiming to be from your financial institution asks for confidential information. This information should already be on file.
  • Use extra caution when using “text messaging”. You may want to disable the “text messaging” feature on the mobile device if you are not using it.
  • Don’t display your wireless phone number or e-mail address in public. This includes newsgroups, chat rooms, Web sites, or membership directories.
  • Contact your wireless or Internet service provider about unwanted messages.
  • Contact the credit union if you suspect you’ve been scammed. You can also file a complaint on the Federal Trade Commission’s web site. or call 1-877-FTC-HELP



What is the credit union doing to protect your identity? 

Federal Building FCU realizes the importance of protecting your identity.  We have in place several security measures to ensure that your personal information is kept confidential and secure. Please remember, these security measures are in place in order to protect your identity and your money. 

Telephone Transactions

When inquiring or requesting a transaction on an account by phone, credit union policy requires that the caller verify his or her identity.  If we are unable to confirm that you are our member, we will protect your information and not process any transactions on the accountAn alert will be placed on the account and an attempt will be made to contact the true member by phone.  We will notify the member by mail if unable to make contact by phone. 

Branch Transactions

When inquiring or requesting a transaction on an account in person, credit union policy requires that the member verify his or her identity.  Verifying a member’s identity usually requires providing us with a government issued photo ID.  Should the credit union not be able to verify membership, transactions and information will not be providedAn alert will be placed on the account and an attempt will be made to contact the true member by phone.  We will notify the member by mail if unable to make contact by phone. 

Visa Debit/Visa Credit Cards

When a Visa debit or credit card is issued, it must be activated before the card can be used.  Activation takes place by calling a toll-free number. 

We have in place a 24-hour monitoring system to ensure that your Visa debit or credit card has not been compromised.  A large or unusual transaction will immediately cause an alert to be made on the Visa cardholder account.  The card services center will attempt to contact the cardholder to confirm that the transaction is correct.  If the card services center is unable to make contact, the Visa card may be temporarily blocked to prevent any future charges. 


Enhanced authentication for our

Online Banking and Visa Cardholder Services

This tool provides extra protection for your online data and helps guard against fraudulent online activities and identity theft. The system recognizes your computer and usage patterns. If a questionable logon attempt is detected, the system will require additional identity verification before allowing access.  You also choose a secret image and phrase combination, ensuring that you are logging on to your actual internet banking or bill paying site.

Member Safety Zone


ATM Safety


to read a NCUA brochure on Internet Safety


Reporting Visa Cards Lost/Stolen

 If your Visa debit/credit card is lost or stolen, please report it immediately to one of the following numbers: 

Visa Debit

(877) 300-3509 

Visa Classic

(800) 991-4964 

Visa Gold

(800) 325-3678


Phishing Example 1

From: America's Credit Unions []
Sent: Friday, August 18, 2006 9:18 PM
Subject: Consumer survey, get $50 reward now!
Importance: High

Dear Credit Union Client,

You have been chosen by the America's Credit Unions to take part in our quick and easy 5 question survey. In return we will credit $50 to your account, just for your time!

With the information collected we can decide to direct a number of changes to improve and expand the online services.
The information you provide us is all non-sensitive and anonymous. No part of it is handed down to any third party groups.
It will be stored in our secure database while we process the results of this nationwide survey.

We kindly ask you to spare two minutes of your time in taking part with this unique offer!

To continue, click here.


America's Credit Unions.

Phishing Example 2

Dear FCU holder account,

As part of our security measures, we regularly screen activity in Federal Credit Unions (FCU) network.

We recently noticed the following issue on your account. A recent review of your account determined that we require some additional information from you in order to provide you with more secure service. Case ID: PP-065-617-349. For your protection, we have limited access to your account until additional security measures can be completed. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Please log in to your FCU account to restore your access as soon as possible.

You must click the link below and fill in the form on the following to complete the verification process.




In accordance with NCUA User Agreement, your account access will remain limited until the issue has been resolved. Unfortunately, if access to your account remains limited for an extended period of time, it may result in further limitations or eventual account closure. We encourage you to log in to your FCU account as soon as possible to avoid this matter. Please understand that this is a security measure intended to help protect you and your account.

We apologize for any inconvenience.

Sincerely, NCUA Account Review Department

How do thieves access your personal information? 

  • “Dumpster Diving” – digging through trash cans and dumpsters for personal information
  • “Shoulder Surfing” – Watching or listening to you from a nearby location as you give someone your personal information
  • Memorized or copied by sales clerks and waiters
  • “Skimming” - Credit card information is swiped and the information is recorded on a device known as a “skimmer”
  • Removing mail from your mailbox or fraudulently redirecting your mail
  • Removed from your employer’s files, hospital records, landlord’s files, or financial lender’s files, either secretly or with the help of an inside accomplice
  • Purchased (or found free) in online (or offline) databases
  • Collected from “cloned” web sites or chat rooms that include links to outside web sites that offer services or products
  • Stolen from a merchant database through computer hacking
  • Stolen from hacking into commercial web sites or your personal computer and using mirror key strokes to capture credit card account information
  • Anywhere you have provided your personal information can be targeted by Identity Thieves

How to prevent identity theft 

  • Remember the word “SCAM”
    • S – Be STINGY about giving out your personal information to others unless you have a reason to trust them, regardless of where you are
    • C – CHECK your financial information regularly, and look for what should be there and what shouldn’t
    • A – ASK periodically for your credit report
    • M – MAINTAIN careful records of your banking an financial records
  • Install a firewall as your first line of defense. This is a primary block between you and other computers on the network. Also install, run, and update anti-virus and anti-spyware programs.
  • Use web sites marked "https;" the "s" indicates a secure location
  • Ensure your browser is up-to-date with security patches.
  • Don't leave wallets or checkbooks out when strangers visit, such as when you're having house repairs done.
  • Limit credit cards to two or three, so you'll know immediately if one is missing
  • Before revealing personal information, find out whom you’re dealing with, how the information will be used, and if it will be shared with others
  • Only give your Social Security number when it’s absolutely necessary. Ask if you can use another type of identifier, such as a driver’s license, instead.
  • Never put your Social Security number on checks and don’t carry the card in your wallet.
  • Keep items with personal information in a safe place and either shred them or tear them up when you don’t need them anymore. Dispose of checking/share draft copies and statements, receipts with a credit card imprint, insurance forms, expired credit cards, savings and investment account statements, and credit card offers the same way.
  • Always review statements closely. Report any suspicious activity immediately to whomever the statement is from. Most financial institutions and online companies will reimburse customers for losses due to fraudulent activity. If you generally receive statements by mail, call the company if a statement is late to make sure an ID thief hasn’t redirected your mail by changing your address
  • If you have online access, monitor your accounts frequently. That assures you’ll notice unauthorized transactions promptly and can take steps to prevent more transactions.  
  • Make a photocopy of all financial cards and insurance cards you carry in your wallet (front and back) and keep it in a safe place. If your wallet is lost or stolen, you’ll have all the information you need to promptly and accurately report the loss.
  • Change your online banking and shopping account passwords often. Experts suggest every three to six months.  Avoid common passwords, such as your birth date or your mother's maiden name.
  • Take outgoing mail to a post office or postal box. To protect delivered mail, buy a lockable mailbox. Stop mail delivery when you go on vacation.
  • Consider the information you’re supplying on an entry to win a car, shopping spree, and so on. In order to win, some information – such as your age or income range – usually is not necessary.
  • Sign up for a Credit Bureau monitoring service, such as . These services monitor your credit file daily for any changes, such as a change in address, new account, large changes in an account balance, or delinquent account.  You will be notified immediately if there are any changes to your credit file. 
  • To opt out of preapproved credit card offers that arrive in the mail, call FTC approved 888-5OPTOUT (888-567-8688), which processes your request to creditors and credit bureaus and prevents you from receiving unsolicited applications.
  • Request a copy of your credit report from the three major credit-reporting agencies –

Experian      LINK: (   (888) 397-3742

Equifax        LINK: ( 685-1111

TransUnion  LINK: ( (800) 916-8800

Verify that your credit report is accurate and that it includes only activities you’ve authorized.

  • The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act) requires each major credit bureau to provide one free credit report annually to consumers who request a copy. or 877-322-8228 

What to do if you become a victim of identity theft 

  • Contact the three major credit bureaus and ask that a fraud alert be placed in your file.  A fraud alert instructs that you be contacted before any new accounts are opened or existing ones changed. At the same time, ask for copies of your credit report.

Experian      LINK: (   (888) 397-3742

Equifax        LINK: ( 685-1111

TransUnion  LINK: ( (800) 916-8800

  • Contact the creditors about fraudulent accounts and follow up in writing. This includes credit card companies, financial institutions, brokerage companies, and/or phone companies. Close any suspicious accounts and open new ones using new passwords and PINs (Personal Identification Numbers).  Don’t use easily available information like your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, your phone number, and so on for passwords.
  • File a report with the local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place. Provide as much information as you can about the crime, including anything you know about the dates of the identity theft, the fraudulent accounts opened and the alleged identity theft.  Be sure to keep a copy of the report for your records. It can help you deal with creditors who need proof of the crime.
  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission by contacting the Identity Theft Hotline by telephone: (877)-IDTHEFT (438-4338)
  • Ask your creditors if they’ll accept the FTC’s ID Theft Affidavit. You can get one by calling the FTC at (877)-IDTHEFT (438-4338) or at  The affidavit allows consumers to report information to several companies simultaneously vs. filling out a separate form for each fraudulent account opened by and identity thief.
  • If it appears that someone is using your Social Security number, get in touch with the Social Security Administration to verify the accuracy of your reported earnings and that your name is reported correctly. Call (800) 772-1213 to check your Social Security statement.
  • Under certain circumstances, the Social Security Administration may issue a new Social Security number – at your request – if, after trying to resolve the problems brought on by identity theft, you continue to experience problems. 
  • Applications or other transaction records related to the theft of your identity may help prove you are a victim.  These documents also may contain information about the identity thief that is valuable to law enforcement. By law, companies must give you a copy of the application or other business transaction records relating to your identity theft if you submit your request in writing. Companies must provide this information at no charge to you within 30 days of the receipt of the request and your supporting documents, such as proof of identity, police report, and completed affidavit.