The holidays are a special time of celebration with friends and family, but they can also be rife with opportunities for fraud and identity theft. Here are our tips for staying financially safe during the holidays so you have a great start to the New Year:
Don’t give out your personal information. Fraudsters are tricky about requesting your personal information in order to “verify” your “account information.” Never ever give out your personal information over the phone, via email, or by text to anyone for any reason if they contact you to verify your personal information. Lincoln Park Community Credit union will never contact you and ask you to provide your personal information by any of these means.
Don’t fall victim to “make money quick” schemes. Making a lot of money in a short amount of time for little or no effort seems like a dream, but it the stuff of nightmares. Unfortunately, countless people each year are tricked out of their own money with promises that they will be given more once they send money first to someone who contacts them by email or online. If someone contacts you and promises you payment of a hefty sum of money once you wire funds, send gift cards or send a money transfer, realize this is a scam and block that person from contacting you again.
Protect your online information. Some scams mimic a financial institution or other reputable company asking people to verify personal information to unlock an account or receive a payment. Instead, contact the company in question to let them know of the situation immediately.
Monitor your accounts and transactions. With technology such as online and mobile banking and programs like CardValet for your LPCCU debit card, it is quick and easy to keep tabs on your financial security. Set up transaction alerts from your accounts and you can even turn your card off right from your phone if you find that your card number has been stolen. If you notice suspicious activity on your LPCCU accounts, contact us right away.
Shred all credit card and other financial offers via mail. Credit card preapprovals and live checks are an easy target for criminals wanting to take out fraudulent loans in others’ names. Please be sure to keep all of this mail in a safe place and, if you don’t plan on taking advantage of the offers, shred them to keep others from taking out credit in your name.
Place a fraud alert on your credit report. If you feel that you have been a victim of identity theft, you can easily place a fraud alert on all of your credit reports by simply contacting one of the three major credit bureaus. You need to contact only one of these to place alerts on your credit reports from all three:
- Equifax: 1-888-836-6351
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
Be on the lookout for ATM skimmers. A credit card skimmer is a device that attaches to an ATM or merchant terminal and captures card information for fraudsters to use. Watch out for any strange-looking attachments or broken security seals on ATMs and merchant terminals (though machines are unlikely to show any visible signs of tampering). And if you're paying for gas with a credit card, pay inside -- or at least use the pump nearest to the attendant.
Don’t let these stress you, but it is wise to take simple precautions to prevent fraud any time of year, especially during the holidays.