How to combat Scams & Identity Theft
By: Alive Credit Union
Scams and Identity theft are the top consumer complaints to the Federal Trade Commission.
The FTC's annual look at its Consumer Sentinel Network database of complaints found that the agency received more than 3 million complaints overall in calendar year 2018, with 15% related to identity theft.
For example, a simple letter received in the mail could look innocent enough. Its message only asks that you return a phone call to your “mortgage company”. It has the name of your credit union right on the address, so most of us would return that call right away. Even as you call the number provided in the letter, it sounds like the information being asked by the automated system is information that anyone would request in order to pull up your account.
However, the information is instead being collected by the scammers with an ulterior motive. The best course of action in this situation is to call the credit union directly. Most financial institutions like Alive Credit Union, list their main contact number directly on their website. Call that trusted number and verify that the institution was the one to send the letter. It could save you from unknowingly giving your information to a scammer.
If you have been targeted by a scam or are a victim of identity theft, take these steps immediately:
Place a fraud alert on your credit reports, ask for a free copy of your credit report, and review those reports for evidence of accounts you didn't open. Fraud unit contacts are:
Close accounts—including share drafts/checks or ATM cards—that have been tampered with or used fraudulently. Contact all financial institutions and lenders, credit card issuers, utility companies, and the Social Security Administration to notify them of the fraud. Follow up each conversation with a letter.
File a report with law enforcement and insist on getting a copy of the report or the report number.
- File a complaint with the FTC. Visit http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0014-identity-theft for more information.