Protect Yourself from Identity Theft and Fraud
Identity Theft occurs when your personal information is stolen. Identity thieves are on the hunt for personally identifying information, such as card numbers, date of birth, social security number, and account information. Once this information is obtained, the thieves will assume or take on your identity, allowing them to illegally purchase items or obtain credit. Unfortunately, the rate of identity theft-related fraud continues to rise and more and more people are victims of this type of crime.
Precautions to Keep Your Identity Safe
The information that follows is provided as a courtesy to assist TEXAR's members in protecting themselves from identity theft, fraud, and other criminal activities. Review the links and information on this page to learn how to protect your personal and financial information.
General Security Warning (Phone and Email Scams)
If you ever receive an email or phone call claiming to be from TEXAR, do not provide any personal information. Always login to the TEXAR site directly (by typing www.gotexar.com in your browser address bar) or contact one of our Member Service Representatives before giving out any information. TEXAR will NEVER make unsolicited phone calls or send emails requesting your personal account information.
ATM fraud can occur when individuals lose their debit card, give it to someone else to use, or when the Personal Identification Number (PIN) is compromised. By following these simple guidelines you can greatly reduce your exposure to ATM fraud.
Tips for protecting yourself against ATM fraud
- Never write your PIN on your card or place it in your wallet. Memorize your PIN as soon as possible. Do not reveal it to anyone not authorized to use the account.
- Never use your date of birth, social security number, license number, or street address as a PIN.
- Don't throw away your ATM receipts at the ATM location. Keep them to reconcile your account then dispose of them properly when you get home.
- Always be aware of your surroundings when using the ATM. Use a machine that is well lit and avoid dark, remote locations.
- Always make sure to retrieve your ATM card from the machine.
- Make sure no one can see you entering your PIN or how much money you withdraw.
- Review your statement promptly to ensure all transactions are accurate and report any discrepancies immediately.
- Destroy old ATM cards as soon as you receive your replacement cards.
Be aware of card withholding and skimming threats.
Card withholding occurs when your card gets stuck in the ATM. Thieves put a substance into the card slot which causes your card to stick inside the ATM. They then get in line behind you and try to watch you enter your PIN.
Skimming is done at businesses that offer Point-of-Sale (POS) devices for you to pay with your debit or credit card. When your card is swiped, the information on the magnetic strip is copied. A camera may also record you entering your PIN. Now they have your account information and possibly your PIN to access your accounts.
- Before inserting your card into an ATM inspect the card slot for any residue or skimming devices.
- Always cover the keypad with your hand when entering your PIN.
What if I'm a Victim of Fraud?
If you suspect fraud, it is important to act quickly to minimize potential damage and your own liability. It is important to keep a detailed account of conversations you have with authorities and financial institutions.
Credit Bureaus. Immediately call the fraud units of the three credit reporting companies -- Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Ask that your account include a statement referencing the possibility of fraud.
Creditors. Contact all creditors immediately with whom your name has been used fraudulently -- by phone and in writing. Monitor your accounts closely for any further fraudulent activity.
Law Enforcement. Report the crime to the police and provide any documentation that you have collected. Get a copy of your police report. Keep the phone number of your fraud investigator handy and give it to creditors and others who require verification of your case.
Financial Institutions. If you have checks stolen or accounts set up fraudulently, contact the institution to report the crime. Put stop payments on appropriate outstanding checks. Close your checking and savings accounts and open new accounts. If your debit or credit card is stolen or compromised, get a new card and PIN. When choosing a PIN, don't use common numbers like the last four digits of your Social Security number, your date of birth, license number, or street address.
U.S. Postal Service. Notify the local Postal Inspector if you suspect an identity thief has filed a change of address with the post office or has used the mail to commit fraud.
Social Security Administration. Call to report fraudulent use of your Social Security number.
Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Call to see if another license was issued in your name and to request a new number. Fill out the DMV's complaint form and send supporting documents to the nearest DMV investigation office.
Civil Courts. If a civil judgment has been entered in your name for actions taken by your impostor, contact that court and report that you are a victim of identity theft. If you are wrongfully prosecuted for criminal charges, contact the appropriate authorities.
Check Cashing Fraud
Check cashing fraud occurs when individuals use checks or information taken from your checks to access your accounts and commit fraudulent acts. Follow these guidelines to reduce your risk.
- Always safeguard your checks. Don't leave your checks unsecured in an open area.
- Keep your blank checks and canceled checks in a safe place. Destroy old blank checks.
- Limit the amount of personal information printed on the checks to your name and address. Do not include useful information for thieves such as your driver's license number and social security number.
- When paying bills by mail, it is more secure to deposit them at the post office or a curbside USPS mailbox.
- Be discreet when writing checks in public places.
- Write your checks carefully and leave no space in which figures or words can be inserted.
- When you make an error in writing a check, be sure to destroy the check or write "canceled" across it.
- If your checks are lost or stolen, report it immediately to your financial institution.
- Reconcile your monthly statements as soon as you can to ensure all transactions are accurate. Contact us immediately if you do not receive it when expected or find any discrepancies.
- When you reorder checks, mark your calendar. If you don't receive your checks within 15 working days, contact us immediately.
- Consider alternatives to check writing. Paying by phone, using billpay, or setting up automatic payments are more secure alternatives. Fewer checks mean fewer theft opportunities.
Credit Card Fraud
Credit card fraud generally occurs when cards or card numbers are compromised. By following these simple guidelines your potential for loss can be minimized.
- Keep a list of all your credit card numbers and the phone number of the issuing company.
- Review your credit card statement as soon as possible. Match charges with your receipts to ensure all charges are yours and are for the correct amount.
- Always sign a new credit card immediately.
- When making a purchase with a credit card, make sure the card is returned and check the receipt for accuracy.
- Make sure that all blank lines on the receipt are marked through so the final amount can't be changed.
- Never sign blank credit card receipts.
- Only travel with the credit cards you plan on using.
- Never give out your credit card number over the phone unless you initiate the call.
- Do not write the PIN on the card.
Internet Fraud - Phishing Scams
Phishing is a scam in which e-mail or pop-up messages are used to deceive you into giving personal information. The messages appear to be from a familiar company and requests that you update or validate account information. That information can be used to steal your identity. Protect yourself with these tips.
- Do not reply or click any links in the message. If you are concerned about your account, contact the organization directly.
- Never cut and paste a link from a suspicious message into your Internet browser — phishers can make links look like they go to one place but they actually send you to a different site.
- Never give out personal information via e-mail. TEXAR will never request personal information via email.
Phone Security - Vishing Scams
Vishing involves sending an email or pop-up message telling you that your account has been compromised and instructing you to call to verify your account information. An automated message will ask you to enter your personal financial information such as your credit card number. Some of these scams involve a telephone call to the victim directly in which the caller already has your credit card number but asks you to verify the three digit security code. Protect yourself.
- Never give your personal information over the phone. If you feel a call is suspicious, call the company directly to verify the authenticity of the call.
- Beware of organizations asking for charitable donations. If you want to donate money, contact the organization yourself to make sure that your money is going to the appropriate place.