Security and Privacy
Mobile Phone Scams
Usually we think of a mobile phone as a tool that offers convenience and personal safety. But it also can be a weapon used against us to steal personal information. Experts say that the same types of attacks that have plagued the online world are migrating to mobile. The National Credit Union Administration in Alexandria, VA reports that members of credit unions across the country have been targets of cell phone scams, mostly phishing. These phishing scams have been in the form of smishing or vishing attacks. Both aim to trick people into revealing sensitive private information, such as Social Security numbers, credit union account numbers, personal identification numbers, and passwords.
The term "smishing" comes from SMS plus phishing (SMS stands for "short message service," used for mobile text messaging). In smishing, criminals are after the same sort of information as in vishing, but they send a text message on a mobile phone instead of calling. A common smishing ploy goes like this: You receive a text message, seemingly from your credit union, stating that your account has been closed. To reactivate it, you're told to call a toll-free number. When you do, you're asked to enter your account number and PIN.
In vishing, the fraudster calls someone, using a pirated recording of telephone services from a financial institution, to try to extract personal information. For example, the recording informs you that your credit card has been used illegally and asks you to call a fake 800 number, where you'll be asked to confirm account details. Or you may receive an e-mail asking you to call a toll-free number. The consumer's answers are recorded, or saved, and later used to commit identity theft.
The best protection against either vishing or smishing comes down to a simple strategy: Don't respond. If it's a vishing scam, refuse to answer questions and hang up. If it's a smishing attack, don't do what the text message instructs you to do. Then report the incident to White Sands FCU immediately. And remember, we would never ask you for personal information over the phone or by e-mail. We already have this information on hand.
White Sands Federal Credit Union will never request private information from you, or send private information to you, in regular email.
In order to insure the privacy of your information, we provide a secure email service for communicating confidential information.
If you wish to send us a question use the Contact Us page, which includes a WSFCU Secure Message Center link. Once you have logged in to the Secure Message Center using your email address (the first time you will have to define a password), you will be able to compose a message that will be encrypted and delivered directly to the Credit Union. Credit Union staff can respond with confidential information by sending you an email indicating the response is available in the Secure Message Center.
You will be automatically signed out of the Secure Message Center after 10 minutes of browser inactivity.
If someone you don’t know wants to pay you by check but wants you to wire some of the money back, beware! It’s a scam that could cost you thousands of dollars. How do fake check scams work? There are many variations of the scam. It usually starts with someone offering to:
- Buy something you advertised for sale;
- Pay you to work at home;
- Give you an “advance” on a sweepstakes you’ve won; or
- Give you the first installment on the millions you’ll receive for agreeing to transfer money in a foreign country to your bank account for safekeeping.
The scammers often claim to be in other countries and say it’s too difficult to pay you directly, so they’ll have someone in the U.S. who owes them money send you a check. The amount of the check may be more than you’re owed, so you’re instructed to deposit it and wire the rest to the scammer. Or you’re told to wire some of the money back to pay a fee to claim your “winnings.” Whatever the set-up, the result is the same — after you’ve wired the money, you find out that the check has bounced.
Can my bank tell if the check is good or not when I deposit it?
These checks look so real that even bank tellers may be fooled. Some are phony cashiers checks, others look like they’re from legitimate business accounts. The companies whose names appear may be real, but someone has dummied up the checks without their knowledge.Under federal law, banks must make the funds you deposit available quickly — usually within one to five days. But just because you can withdraw the money doesn’t mean the check is good, even if it’s a cashier’s check. Forgeries can take weeks to be discovered.
If the check turns out to be fake, isn’t that the bank’s problem?
You are responsible for the checks you deposit. That’s because you’re in the best position to determine how risky the transaction is – you’re the one dealing directly with the person who is arranging for the check to be sent to you. If it bounces, you owe your bank the money you withdrew. The bank may be able to take it from your accounts or sue you to recover it. In some cases, law enforcement authorities could bring charges against the victims because it may look like they were involved in the scam and knew the check was counterfeit.
How do these scammers find their victims?
Fake check scammers scan newspaper and online advertisements for people listing items for sale, and check postings on online job sites from people seeking employment. They place their own ads with phone numbers or email addresses for people to contact them. And they call or send emails or faxes to people randomly, knowing that some will take the bait.
How can I protect myself from fake check scams?
There is no legitimate reason for someone who is giving you money to ask you to wire money back — that’s a clear sign that it’s a scam. If a stranger wants to send you a check, insist on a cashiers check for the exact amount, preferably from a local bank or one with a branch in your area. If you think someone is trying to pull a fake check scam, don’t deposit it — report it! Contact the National Consumers League’s National Fraud Information Center, www.fraud.org or toll-free 800-876-7060. There are also more detailed tips about fake check scams in the telemarketing and Internet fraud sections of the Web site.
The privacy and security of White Sands Federal Credit Union members is a subject we take very seriously. From things as simple as discarding waste paper, to access controls on computer records – we practice security!
Our application forms and online banking applications utilize SSL (Secure Socket Layer) connections to ensure the security of your information. All computer systems used to store sensitive information are protected by firewalls, active monitoring, anti-virus protection and strong password security.
Strong supervision and video surveillance systems are used to insure that only authorized personnel have access to potentially sensitive information. We maintain strict control over media such as CDs, floppy disks, magnetic tapes and memory sticks which may be used to back up or transport sensitive information. All employees are trained to comply with procedures designed to protect your privacy and security.
At White Sands Federal Credit Union we are committed to our members in many different ways. Privacy is one of them.
White Sands Federal Credit Union is committed to making financial products and services available that will enable members to meet their financial needs and reach their financial goals. Protecting personal information and using it in a manner consistent with members’ expectations is a high priority for everyone associated with our credit union.
Our credit union will protect members' personal information. Our credit union will maintain strong security controls to ensure that member information in our files and computers is protected. Where appropriate, we will use security-coding techniques to protect against unauthorized access to personal records, ensure accuracy and integrity of communications and transactions, and protect member confidentiality.
Members will always have access to their information. Members will always have the opportunity to review their information and make necessary changes to ensure that our records are complete and accurate.
The credit union will only share information when absolutely necessary. We will only share information to administer the products and services we provide, when required to do so by law, or when we partner with other businesses to offer a broader array of products and services.
The credit union will partner only with businesses that follow strict confidentiality requirements. The businesses we select will offer products designed to enhance our members’ economic well being. Under no circumstances will we authorize these firms to charge members’ accounts without their express consent, and we will not sell member information to telemarketing firms.
The credit union will offer members a choice in how their information is used. Any member of our credit union may elect to keep their information from being shared with our business partners, except where exempt by law. We will inform members on how to exercise their choice, and we will take all reasonable steps to make sure their requests are followed. At least once a year, we will remind all members of their right to choose.
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