Consumer security education
Many consumer agencies provide alerts about consumer scams based on the complaints they receive. As a result, consumers are able to learn about the different types of scams being perpetrated in today's environment. Increasing your awareness is critical to help avoid becoming a victim.
Become familiar with the following resources and save them as a favorite for future reference. These sites are updated as needed to help ensure consumers have the most up-to-date information:
Consumer Advisories Regarding National Banks: Financial topics of concern (e.g., identity theft, foreclosure prevention scams, etc.)
FDIC Consumer News: Practical guidance to become a smarter, safer user of financial services
National Better Business Bureau: Enter your Zip Code then click Site Map (top of the page) > Alerts (under Resource Library) to learn about recent scams reported in your area
National Do Not Call Registry: Managed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a national consumer protection agency. Take steps to avoid telemarketing scams by registering your home phone number and mobile phone numbers online or via telephone at 888-382-1222
FTC Consumer Spam Information: Learn how to limit spam scams and protect your information
FTC Fighting Back Against Identity Theft: Valuable information on identity theft and what to do if your identity is stolen.
If you believe you are the victim of consumer fraud, TDECU members are advised to report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, identity theft and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. Notify your local law enforcement agency to report abusive and threatening calls and/or to file an Identity Theft Report. Notify the major credit reporting agencies (credit bureaus) to request a "fraud alert" on your file that will require creditors to call you before they open any accounts in your name. The major credit reporting agencies are:
Education about scams and fraud is your first line of defense in keeping you and your information secure.
Dealing with identity theft
Identity Theft occurs when someone uses your personal identifying information, like your name, Social Security number, credit card number, or other personal information, without your permission, to commit fraud.
If your identity is stolen, your financial records and credit rating are at risk. Immediately contact your financial institution and all creditors. Close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened. Recap the contact in writing, including the names of the representatives you’ve spoken with, and send the letters and any photocopies of supporting documents via certified mail to the companies you’ve contacted.
Contact the three major credit bureaus - Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion - and place a fraud alert on your credit reports. Request for your accounts to be flagged so no new credit is granted without permission and ask for a copy of your credit report from each agency.
Change all of your passwords. Use strong passwords that include numbers and special characters such as @ and $. For added protection, change your passwords frequently.
Notify your local police department and file an identity theft report. Mail copies to all of your creditors and financial institutions. You may be required to file an additional report in the location where the crime occurred.
Keep careful, written records of everything. File copies of all documents such as emails, messages, letters, and records of phone calls in a safe place.
What is identity theft?
Identity theft is a federal crime. It occurs when your personal information is unknowingly stolen and then used to commit fraud and other crimes. The most common ways fraudsters steal consumers' personal information online is through spoof emails and websites, social engineering, and other scams.
Tips to help you avoid identity theft
The first line of defense against identity theft is you. To help you from becoming a victim of this crime, we recommend the following:
- Make passwords as random as possible. Do not use things such as birthdays or phone numbers.
- Never use the word PASSWORD as your password
- Make sure your User ID and password are different
- Protect your password. Never write it down or share it with anyone.
- Change your password immediately if you think anyone knows it
- Do not use the same password for every system you access
- Create a strong password that includes numbers and special characters such as $ or @
- Protect Your Social Security Number
- Do not provide your personal information in response to an unsolicited request
- Do not have your driver's license, telephone, or Social Security number printed on your bank checks
- If someone asks for your Social Security number, ask why it's needed and how it will be used.
Avoid mail-related risks
- Enroll in Online Statements and no longer receive paper statements in the mail. This helps to reduce the threat of having your statements stolen out of your mailbox.
- If you do not receive bills in a timely manner, call the companies to find out why. You want to be sure that no one has filed a false change of address notification on your behalf.
- Do not leave outgoing mail in your home mailbox; instead, drop it into a secure, official Postal Service collection box
- Ask your local post office to stop mail delivery while you are on vacation or ask a trustworthy neighbor to pick it up for you daily
- Always shred important documents such as bank statements and items received in the mail before throwing them away. Most fraud and identity theft happens as a result of mail and garbage theft.
- If you receive financial solicitations that you're not interested in, be sure to shred them before throwing them away
- Consider opting out of unsolicited credit offers. Call 888-5-OPTOUT (888-567-8688)
- Review your credit report at least once a year to check for inaccuracies
- Make photocopies of important information you carry on a regular basis (driver’s license, credit cards, etc.) and store them in a secure place such as a safe deposit box
- Store your canceled checks and new checks in a safe place
- Report lost or stolen checks, debit, or credit cards IMMEDIATELY
- When shopping, avoid placing receipts in the same bag as your purchases. Do not leave your receipts behind on counters or at fuel pumps.
- Know when your credit cards expire and notify the issuers promptly if they have not arrived
- Be cautious about where you leave personal information in your home, especially if you have outside help or are having service work done on your home
- When you go out, take only the personal identification and credit cards you believe you will need
- Do not carry your Social Security card with you. Memorize your number and leave it in a secure place.
- Consider removing your Social Security number from your driver's license, if permitted by state law
How to report identity theft
Identity Theft is a serious matter to TDECU. If you believe you are a victim of identity theft:
Call TDECU at 800-839-1154
Notify the major credit reporting agencies (credit bureaus). Call the fraud departments of all three credit bureaus. Ask them to put a "fraud alert" on your file. This tells creditors to call you before they open any accounts in your name:
Notify your local law enforcement agency to file an Identity Theft Report.