MARQUETTE - Staff at the Upper Peninsula Catholic Credit Union have created a list of tips to help protect consumers from fraud.
"I think it (fraud) is a big concern for the whole financial industry," said U.P. Catholic Credit Union Chief Executive Officer Tom Blake.
Blake said there are several stand-by fraud tactics used by thieves including sending checks to people in the mail suggesting all they need to do is pre-pay taxes to receive thousands of dollars for themselves.
Some thieves also phish for sensitive financial information from people through email, directing computer users to fake web sites. Other thieves call people posing as bank or credit card company representatives, requesting personal data.
"We're never going to call someone and ask for private information," Blake said. "We already have it."
Blake said thieves have also put "skimming devices" on automatic teller machines to electronically lift customer data from transactions, which is relayed to someone nearby with a laptop computer.
"There's always a new angle and a new way to do things," Blake said.
The credit union's fraud prevention tips were organized based on each letter in the word F-R-A-U-D:
Figure out your balance:
Keep close tabs on the balances of any financial account that is accessible by a plastic payment card. Identifying a dramatic balance change in one of your accounts is the best early warning system a consumer can have. If your financial institution offers online banking or email balance alerts sign up for them immediately. Many programs offer balance information in email format or text format to most cell phones.
Respond to contact by unknown persons with extreme caution:
It's OK to hang up and call back! Do not trust text messages, emails or direct telephone calls from persons unknown to you especially if they identify themselves as an employee of your bank or credit union. If you are still in the possession of your plastic payment card you can always find a toll free number on the back of the card to call when you have concerns about your account safety.
Never approach an ATM if anyone is lingering nearby. Never engage in conversations with others around an ATM. Remain in your automobile until other ATM users have left the ATM. Never use an ATM if you see loose or wobbly parts attached to the face of the ATM or a dramatic change in the appearance of the ATM since your last visit. If you feel uneasy do not use the ATM. Go to another ATM location where you feel safer.
Unreported incidents can hurt you:
If your plastic card is captured inside of an ATM call your card issuer immediately to report the card capture. Sometimes you may think that your card was captured by the ATM when in reality it was later retrieved by a criminal who staged its capture. Either way, you will need to arrange for a replacement card as soon as possible.
Ask your card issuer for a new card number if you suspect that your payment card may have been compromised at a merchant, restaurant or ATM.
It's important to change both your card number and your PIN whenever you experience a potential theft of your personal information.
For more information, visit the U.P. Catholic Credit Union online at: www.upccu.com
John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.