The holiday season is quickly approaching, which means time with family, fun decorations, tasty food and holiday shopping. Unfortunately, it also means fraudsters are on the prowl, trying to steal your money and your personal information. Don't let these criminals get away with ruining your financial security. Before you start your holiday shopping, whether it's online, by phone or in stores, make sure you are prepared and aware of the potential threats that may arise and how to avoid them. Below are 7 strategies you can use to help detect and avoid falling victim to fraud or identity theft.
1. Review Credit Reports At Least Once a Year
This will help you ensure fraudulent accounts have not been opened using your personal information. The Fair Credit Reporting Act entitles consumers to a free credit report once a year from each of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies. To receive your report, visit www.annualcreditreport.com
or call the credit reporting agencies directly.
2. Monitor Financial Statements and Online Banking Regularly
Many of our members check their account statements and monitor account transactions. If you're not doing this already, now is the time to get into the routine of reviewing all your financial activity as often as possible. By taking this action, you will be able to identify any unauthorized account activity and prevent potential losses to your accounts.
To report fraud on your UHCU account, or if you have any questions regarding activity on your account, call 512.435.4545
3. Don't Over-Share on Social Websites
Even though social media websites encourage you to post private information, you should avoid sharing your full birthday, place of birth, pets' names, children's names, or anything else that could be a clue to your account passwords or security question answers. Never share your mother's maiden name, Social Security number, bank account numbers, or usernames and passwords on any platform – including email. You should also keep your phone number and home address private. Any of this information could be collected and used by fraudsters to access your accounts or attempt illegal activity in your name. Along these same lines, you should not disclose if you will be away for the holidays – you never know who may see that you won't be home.
4. Ensure Children Understand Online Security Risks
Fraudsters often use games or free offers targeted at children or young adults to obtain personal information. These gimmicks include spyware that track and steal information from your computer or mobile device. You can protect yourself and your children by encouraging them to limit online contact to people they know, setting privacy controls to restrict access to private information, and enabling parental controls to only allow access to trusted sites. Parents should instruct their children not to give out personal information online without talking to a parent first. Kids and teens also need to be careful sharing personal details on social media.
5. Don't Provide Personal Information to Anyone Who Initiates Contact with You
Fraudsters may impersonate a financial institution (or other legitimate organization) to trick you into giving out personal account information. This tactic is often utilized as part of an elaborate scheme involving phone calls, emails, text messages and other forms of communication. Never reply to unsolicited telephone, email, text or pop-up messages asking for personal account information. As a reminder, United Heritage Credit Union will never call, email or text you asking for your account number, debit card number, credit card number or social security number.
6. Protect Your Computer from Malware with Regular Updates
Updating anti-virus software on your computer is a great step towards protecting yourself. Remember not to download suspicious attachments or plug-ins. When making online purchases, be sure the website address starts with https://
stands for secure
7. Know What to Do If You Lose Your Handbag or Wallet
Take a moment to create an inventory list or photocopy the personal and financial information you carry in your wallet, such as your driver's license, bank cards, credit cards and checks. Store your inventory list or photocopies in a secure location. This simple action will help you know whom to contact if your handbag or wallet is lost or stolen. As an added precaution, avoid bringing your Social Security card, birth certificate or passport with you unless absolutely necessary.