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Internet Safety Tips
Tips to avoid Identity Theft!
February 21, 2014
Risk Alert - You are the First Line of Defense in Reducing Fraud
Be cautious of any company you select to engage in business
When you are contacted by a company or private party through the internet or telephone wanting to do business or sell something, conduct your own independent research. Verify the identity of that company and read over reviews or other information you can find. Make a sound decision on any purchases or dealings with a company who received negative reviews.
Be cautious when asked to wire money
Be extremely cautious if you are asked to wire money to any person or entity you do not know because it’s nearly impossible to reverse the transaction or trace the money. Again, do research and make sure of the identity of the person or company you are doing business.
Review your account statements frequently
Fraudsters may have stolen your identity without your knowledge so check your accounts frequently. Dishonest merchants may also take advantage by billing you for “membership fees” each month or other goods or services without your authorization. Contact your credit union or card processor immediately if you see charges you don’t recognize or didn’t authorize.
Consider giving only to established charities in the event of a disaster
Don’t give to an unrecognized charity following a disaster as they could be collecting money for their own purpose or to finance illegal activity. For additional donating tips, check out ftc.gov/charityfraud.
Investments are never a sure thing
Always conduct your own research if someone contacts you with low-risk, high-return investment opportunities. When you are requested to “act now” to reap the benefits from “these guaranteed big profits,” be extremely cautious and report them at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#&panel1-1.
Be cautious when buying products on line
It’s best to do business with online sites you know and trust. If you buy items through an online auction, consider using a payment option that provides protection, such as a credit card. Do not send money or wire funds to someone you don’t know.
Don’t agree to deposit a check and wire money back.
Members are responsible for checks deposited into their account and if a check turns out to be bogus, the Member is responsible for paying it back. Anyone who overpays with a check and requests that a portion of the funds be returned is almost certainly engaging in fraud.
Don’t respond to emails or messages to provide personal or financial information.
Be extremely cautious when opening a link to an email or responding to any question from a telephone call where personal information is requested. Fraudsters are attempting to trick you into revealing sensitive information. If you received such a message and you are concerned about your account status, call your credit union or the number on the reverse side of your credit or debit card.
If you think you may have been scammed:
- Notify your credit union to report the incident.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at http://www.econsumer.gov/
- Visit FTC’s site on identity theft - http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0014-identity-theft
- File a complaint with the FBI at the Internet Crime Complaint Center at http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx to report the incident.
- If you get what looks like lottery material from a foreign country through the postal mail, notify your local postmaster.
January 3, 2014
Risk Alert - Tips to Members for Stronger Password Security
Here are some tips for making passwords more secure:
- Do not use the same password for multiple accounts.
- Use unique passwords. Do not use passwords on any common password lists, such as SplashData’s annual list of worst Internet passwords.
- Use passwords with a variety of character types (i.e., use passwords that contain upper and lower case letters, numbers and special, non-alphanumeric characters). The more uncommon the combination of letters, numbers and symbols used in a password, the safer it will be.
- Use passwords that are at least eight characters long. The longer the password, the stronger it will be.
- Use password generators to create random passwords.
- Do not use passwords that are based on personal information (e.g., birthday, Social Security number, nicknames, names of family members, etc.).
- Do not use single dictionary words for passwords. Such passwords are susceptible to dictionary attacks.
Use pass phrases instead of passwords.
- Do not use passwords derived from strings of sequential numbers or letters (e.g., 123456 and qwerty).
- Do not use standard number substitutions (e.g., p455word instead of password).
- Use multifactor authentication when available. Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter all offer multiple layers of authentication.
- Change passwords periodically, especially for major accounts such as those for banking and shopping sites.
Keep computers and browsers patched, updated and malware free.
December 13, 2013
Risk Alert - Avoiding Common Scams this Christmas Season
The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois compiled a list of common scams to be aware of this year and “Vigilance is the word” this shopping season, whether you are shopping on line or in stores, according to Steve J. Bernas, President and CEO of this BBB.
Keeping your eyes and ears open will help identify potential scams that are taking place and you may be able to avert a personal loss.
According to the BBS, consumers / members should be wary of the following potential holiday-oriented scams
- Dear Santa Websites – Parents should pay close attention to websites their children visit to avoid those that lure children into divulging too much personal information.
- Recalled toys –Shoppers should make themselves aware of what toys have been recalled. While they may have been removed from store shelves that may not be the case for online sites.
- Hot Holiday Gifts – There are thousands of new items introduced at Christmas, especially electronics. Consumers should be suspicious of any deal that offers merchandise at extremely low prices and should verify the offer with the retailer involved.
- Fake FedEx/UPS emails – Be wary of unexpected urgent emails from a shipper that request money or personal and/or financial information for the delivery of a package.
- Phony E-Tailers – Finding those treasures online is easy but you must be careful in selecting which site to shop. Fake e-commerce sites lure buyers with great deals, collect credit/debit card and other personal information and no products are every delivered. If you are shopping a site for the first time check other user’s reviews and verify that the phone number and other information provided on the site is legitimate.
- Fake Charities – Don’t ever give money to any charity without first verifying their validity. If the organization needs the money today, they will need it tomorrow – legitimate charities have no problem answering your questions and waiting for your donation.
- Bogus Gift Cards – Gift cards are easy and for some the perfect gift for many people. Be careful buying gift cards online or from third parties. It is best to make your purchase from the official retailer.
- Layaway plans – To avoid feeling scammed by a layaway plan, be sure to closely examine all terms and conditions. In some cases retailers charge up-front fees, and if you fail to make a payment you may lose the fee you paid and be charged a “restocking” fee.
- Dangerous e-cards – E-cards are a quick and easy way to say thank you or send a holiday greeting but you need to use caution because some may be malicious and contain spyware or viruses.
- Identity Theft – Use caution while shopping online. Look for third party “trust seals” such as the BBB. And make sure you know with whom you are doing business.
The Better Business Bureau urges consumers to follow these rules to help avert losses:
1. Stay suspicious
2. Practice safe surfing
3. Practice safe shopping
4. Use strong passwords
5. Be careful when clicking
6. Educate yourself
7. Update your computers virus protection program
April 30, 2013
Risk Alert - "Wire transfer canceled"? Watch out for spammed-out malware attack
On April 30, 2012, Graham Cluley, a computer security industry veteran who writes for Sophos’s award-winning Naked Security site has reported warned of the new malware attack reprinted below:
“If you've received an email in your inbox telling you that your wire transfer has been cancelled, take care - as it's the latest attempt by online criminals to infect the general public's Windows computers.
Brits (as opposed to Americans) probably won't be as likely to be duped by the spammed-out messages which use the US spelling of "canceled" in the subject line, and claim to come from the Federal Reserve.
The Wire transfer , recently sent from your bank account , was not processed by the FedWire.
Transfer details attached to the letter.
This service is provided to you by the Federal Reserve Board. Visit us on the web at website
To report this message as spam, offensive, or if you feel you have received this in error,
please send e-mail to email address including the entire contents and subject of the message.
It will be reviewed by staff and acted upon appropriately
Attached to the emails is a file called PAYMENT RECEIPT 30-04-2013-GBK-75.zip which Sophos products detect as containing the Troj/Zbot-EVX Trojan horse, designed to hijack your computer and - potentially - plunder your finances and steal private information.
Of course, the danger is that unsuspecting computer users will open the malicious email attachment even if they haven't recently tried to wire some cash.
The social engineering trap used in this attack takes advantage of people's natural curiousity, which - in many cases - will drive them to investigate the file even if alarm bells should be ringing.
Up-to-date anti-virus software and software patches can help protect your computer, but the real lesson that internet users need to learn is to not be so trusting of unsolicited emails that arrive out of the blue in their inbox.“
May 5, 2011
Malicious Software Features Osama Bin Laden Links to Ensnare Unsuspecting Computer Users
According to consumer protection officials, that email you receive purporting to have photos and videos showing Osama Bin Laden’s death could cost you dearly. This email could contain a virus that targets personal information and addresses stored on your computer and opening that information could set in motion malicious software that will attack your computer.
The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) urges computer users to not open unsolicited (spam) e-mails, including clicking links contained within those messages. Even if the sender is familiar, the public should exercise due diligence. Computer owners must ensure they have up-to-date firewall and anti-virus software running on their machines to detect and deflect malicious software.
The IC3 recommends the public do the following:
- Adjust the privacy settings on social networking sites you frequent to make it more difficult for people you know and do not know to post content to your page. Even a “friend” can unknowingly pass on multimedia that’s actually malicious software.
- Do not agree to download software to view videos. These applications can infect your computer.
- Read e-mails you receive carefully. Fraudulent messages often feature misspellings, poor grammar, and nonstandard English.
- Report e-mails you receive that purport to be from the FBI. Criminals often use the FBI’s name and seal to add legitimacy to their fraudulent schemes. In fact, the FBI does not send unsolicited e-mails to the public. Should you receive unsolicited messages that feature the FBI’s name, seal, or that reference a division or unit within the FBI or an individual employee, report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.
By: Jay A. Slagel, Vice President - Risk Management / Claims Cell Phone: 608-213-2816 firstname.lastname@example.org
March 11, 2011
Tips On Avoiding Fraudulent Charitable Contribution Schemes
Recently several natural disasters, including tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes, have devastated lives and property. In the wake of these events that have caused emotional distress and great monetary loss to numerous victims, individuals across the nation often feel a desire to help these victims, frequently through monetary donations.
These disasters prompt individuals with criminal intent to solicit contributions purportedly for a charitable organization or a good cause. Therefore, before making a donation of any kind, consumers should adhere to certain guidelines, to include the following:
- Do not respond to unsolicited (SPAM) e-mail.
- Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as officials soliciting via e-mail for donations.
- Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.
- Be cautious of e-mail claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
- To ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.
- Validate the legitimacy of the organization by directly accessing the recognized charity or aid organization's website rather than following an alleged link to the site.
- Attempt to verify the legitimacy of the non-profit status of the organization by using various Internet-based resources, which also may assist in confirming the actual existence of the organization.
- Do not provide personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions: providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.
If you believe you have been a victim of a charity related scheme, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud by telephone at (866) 720-5721, or by fax at (225) 334-4707, or by e-mail at email@example.com You can also report suspicious e-mail solicitations or fraudulent websites to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.IC3.gov.
National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) was originally established by the Department of Justice to investigate, prosecute, and deter fraud in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Its mission has expanded to include suspected fraud from any natural or man-made disaster. More than 20 federal agencies, including the FBI, participate in the NCDF, allowing it to act as a centralized clearinghouse of information related to relief fraud.