Safeguard Yourself With These Tips
Cases of identity theft and fraud continue to be on the rise and, unfortunately, the chaos caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is being taken advantage of by identity thieves, scammers, spoofers, and phishers to further engage in fraud online, over the phone, and in other ways. Luckily, there are actions you can start taking today which will help safeguard your personal information, making it exceptionally more difficult for these criminals to target you in 2021. Better protect yourself by always keeping these tips in mind:
- Set strong, varied passwords. Especially as more financial business is conducted online, it is crucial to always set strong passwords and to never use the same password for two or more different accounts.
- Do not post personal information (such as your email address, home address, or phone number) on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or TikTok. Scammers and identify thieves can use this publicly accessible information to steal your identity or attempt to defraud you.
- Do not give out your personal information over the phone. Phishers or spoofers go so far as to impersonate government or business entities. Government agencies like the IRS will NEVER call or email to ask you for your personal information, such as account, routing, or social security numbers.
- Never send or wire money to a stranger (especially on Cash Apps). Particularly during the pandemic, scammers email and sometimes even call with elaborate and urgent fabrications asking for money. Once the money is sent (even on Cash Apps), it cannot be recovered.
- Be suspicious of “too good to be true” correspondences. Another common scam is to receive an email or a call assuring you that you are the winner of a prize, but that you first need to pay a fee (frequently by purchasing gift cards) or provide personal information before you can claim the prize. Either the scammer will make off with the gift cards or they will use the personal information they acquire from you to steal your identity.
- Only make online purchases on secure websites/webstores. Luckily, there are two easy ways to check if a webstore is secure. On a store’s checkout page, make sure that the website begins with “http” and/or features a tiny icon of a padlock. If you see one or both of those indicators, it is highly likely the webstore is both legitimate and safe for you to proceed with your purchase.
- Ensure your home internet access is secure. Once you set up your router, be sure to implement a strong password. Also consider using a VPN (virtual private network) to mask your online identity.
- Be wary of sending personal information or making purchases while connected to a publicly accessible WIFI. Use of a VPN will help make browsing safer on public WIFI.
- Shred your junk mail. Scammers can steal your personal information from your garbage. Particularly be sure to shred pre-approved credit cards and deals as opposed to just throwing them out.
- Download the CardValet® App, which is free to all WSFCU members. This application will allow you to monitor your debit card usage from your smartphone, which helps identify fraudulent activity should it occur.
- Keep your current cell phone number on file with us so you can take advantage of Premium Text Notifications. Premium Text Notifications is a service free to all WSFCU members that you are enrolled in automatically. If suspicious activity is detected on your debit card, a text message will arrive from the short code number 37268 with some basic information about the transaction in question and ask you to verify that transaction before it goes through. Click here to learn more!
- If an email, call, or webstore you are considering purchasing from feels in any way suspect to you, we urge you to call us. Our phone services team is available Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5:30 pm at 336-727-2663 and happy to help you avoid fraud and protect your identity by advising you directly depending on your circumstance. Remember, the more of these strategies you practice, the safer your personal information, identity, and finances will be.