Online banking can be so convenient in today’s busy world; however, the threat of fraud is very real. When it comes to keeping your accounts safe, being informed is key. Learn about various scams and the ways America’s First works to cut down on the risk of fraud for our members.
Privacy & Security
Protecting member account information is our first priority at America’s First. We’ve taken many steps to ensure that our systems are shielded from attacks and that your information is secure internally as well. To that matter, we will never initiate contact with you to obtain or verify your account or personal information; remember, we already have access to it. This includes contact via text message, phone, direct mail, and particularly not via social media or email. The only circumstance that may require contact from us is if you have initiated an application and we need additional information or to provide you with the status of your application or in situations where we suspect that your debit or credit card may be used fraudulently.
Preventing and identifying fraudulent activity starts with awareness, and America’s First is committed to helping our members understand, detect, and report any threats they may encounter. If you suspect any unauthorized activity on your account, please contact us immediately to file a report at 205-320-4000 or toll-free 1-800-633-8431.
Member account information is limited to America’s First employees that have a specific business purpose in using the data. All employees are required to complete extensive training and testing regarding member privacy and confidentiality to comply with federal requirements.
America’s First uses layered security for on-line access. In addition to selecting a user name and password, you will be required to provide challenge questions to verify your identity if you log onto our system from another computer. Examples of challenge questions would be: your mother’s maiden name, the name of your high school’s mascot, first pet’s name, etc. This information will be selected by you when you establish your account and you will be required to correctly answer these questions if our system does not recognize the computer’s address.
It is safe to say that if you did not initiate a call, email, text message, or social media-based message, then you should not give out your information to anyone that asks for it.
Identity and Account Security
While this information is in no way meant to be all encompassing, it is our goal to educate our members and provide best practices to prevent and identify fraudulent activity associated with your accounts. We work hard to safeguard our members’ information and are committed to providing a safe place to manage your money.
Are You Aware of the Most Common Types of Fraud?
With new advances in technology, fraud related crimes are becoming more common every year. The main issue with these types of crimes is that victims often aren’t aware that they’ve been targeted until it’s too late. It is critical to be educated and aware of the different types of attacks so you can identify and prevent your personal information from being stolen. Recovering from identity theft or financial fraud can take months, or even years, so it’s imperative that you are taking proactive measures to protect yourself.
A type of fraud in which a thief attempts to acquire confidential information about another individual (usernames, passwords, credit/debit card details, etc.) by posing as a trusted source, such as a credit union or bank employee. Typically, this is carried out via email or through a fake webpage.
A similar type of fraud carried out over text message is called “smishing.”
Scammers can easily replicate an official webpage or email making it appear authentic. If a website or email does look suspicious in any way (misspellings, poor layout, etc.,) do not click on the links or provide your information on any forms. Scammers can also forge or create email addresses resembling that of a real organization. Make sure to verify with the real organization before giving out any personal information over electronic exchange.
Fake Check Scams
There are many different types of fake check scams, but it typically involves a scammer who sends an authentic looking check or money order and then requests the recipient to send cash, wire funds, or send a money order in return. The phony check or money order is returned by the depositing financial institution and you are held responsible for paying the funds back.
No legitimate company or person will give you a check in return for cash.
ATM fraud occurs when a thief obtains a debit or credit card, and then compromises a victim’s account using an ATM. Another situation is when a scammer installs a card skimmer and video camera onto an ATM capturing the victim’s card information and Personal Identification Number. Often, the victim is completely unaware that they’ve just been targeted enabling the thief to make several charges against the account before they’re caught. More information here
ATM Safety Tips
Always pay close attention to the ATM and your surroundings. Use an ATM in a public, well-lighted location that is free of shrubbery and decorative partitions or dividers.
Maintain an awareness of your surroundings throughout the entire transaction. Be wary of people trying to help you with ATM transactions. Be aware of anyone sitting in a parked car nearby. When leaving an ATM make sure you are not being followed. If you are, drive immediately to a police or fire station, or to a crowded, well-lighted location or business.
Do not allow people to look over your shoulder as you enter your PIN. If possible, use your other hand to shield the PIN pad while entering the digits. Memorize your PIN; never write it on the back of your card.
Do not count cash at the machine or in public. Wait until you are in your car or another secure place.
When using a drive up ATM, always keep doors locked and keep passenger and rear windows up.
Close monitor your statements and your account activity on a regular basis and immediately report any problems to Member Service.
Identity theft is a global issue that victimizes more than 15 million people every year. Identity theft can occur when an individual obtains personal information, such as a social security number, date of birth, address, financial account information, or any combination of the aforementioned items. Once your personal information has been compromised, thieves have the ability to assume your identity, make charges against your accounts, get copies of official documents, and even obtain credit. By keeping yourself educated and aware of the threats, you can keep your name and identity well protected.
Scammers often try to persuade you to give up your information with claims resembling the following:
“A family member is waiting to wire funds to your bank account.”
“You’ve won eBay auction #4692875, click here to pay now!”
“You’ve won the $10,000 sweepstakes from xx company, respond to this text message with your social security number for verification.”
“America’s First Federal Credit Union – Urgent – Confirm Account Information”
Usually, spam filters will catch these types of emails and put them into a separate “junk” folder, but do not open them if they happen to slip through. Always mark these messages as spam to report them to your email provider.
Consumer Protection under Regulation E.
You have certain protection from fraudulent and/or unauthorized transactions that are conducted electronically. Congress enacted the Electronic Funds Transfers Act to govern and provide protection to consumers that conduct electronic transfers. Examples of electronic transfers include ATM transactions, Debit card transactions, Flashtalk transactions or transactions performed on the credit union’s Easy Link system. In order to implement the EFTA, the Federal Reserve Board promulgated Regulation E. Under the Regulation E, you have certain rights and protections against fraudulent or unauthorized transfers. Under most circumstances, if you discover a transaction that you did not make or did not authorize, if you tell us in writing within 60 days from the date the statement was sent, you will not have any liability for the transaction and will receive a refund. If you do not notify us within the prescribed time frame, you will not receive a refund.
Monitor Your Accounts and History Regularly
The best way to keep yourself safe from scammers and thieves is to be cautious about every solicitation you receive and use common sense. Additionally, you should monitor your accounts regularly to ensure all posted transactions have been authorized by you. For our members’ convenience, America’s First offers several options to track account activity.
Another way to proactively stay up-to-date and in control of your identity is to check your credit report and score every year. This free report available to all U.S. citizens provides a detailed history from all financial accounts tied to your name and Social Security Number. It will also provide a list of organizations that have requested a copy of your credit report, and identifies any potential issues or inaccuracies in your financial history.
AnnualCreditReport.com is the only federally recognized website for obtaining a free credit report. Be aware of deceptive websites and similarly named companies that offer “free” credit reports or “free trials” and ask for payment information.
Credit scores are not included in a credit report nor are they considered a free service as they are typically bundled with a credit monitoring service. All three credit bureaus (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax) offer credit score bundles for a fee, however, you can find free trial services through myfico.com that will report your FICO credit scores. Unless you are interested in paying for a credit monitoring service (typically a monthly fee anywhere from $10-80,) it is recommended that you call to cancel the service immediately so you do not get charged a monthly fee.
Tip: Your credit score and credit report are reliable ways to identify suspicious activity and monitor accounts associated with your name and social security number. You only get one free credit report per year; therefore it is recommended that you check one credit bureau at a time over the course of the year. For example, you might decide to check Experian in the winter, TransUnion in the summer, and Equifax in the fall so that you can continuously monitor your credit.
Report Scam or Suspicious Account Activity
- Contact local law enforcement to report the attempted crime
- Call America’s First if you find unauthorized activity on your account
Reporting Identity Theft
- If you suspect for any reason that you’ve become a victim of identity theft, immediately contact one of the three credit reporting bureaus and have them place an alert on your file.
Equifax: 1-800-525-6285 Experian: 1-888-397-3742 TransUnion: 1-877-322-8228
- Next, file a police report with your local law enforcement agency and request a copy to submit to creditors and for future reference.
- Contact America’s First Federal Credit Union and any other financial institution to notify them and get new account numbers and PINs.
- Report your situation to the Federal Trade Commission 1-877-ID-THEFT (1-877-438-4338) or www.consumer.gov/idtheft.
- Finally, report the fraudulent use of your Social Security Number to the Social Security Administration 1-800-269-0271.
Security Precautions and Tips
- Never give out your Social Security Number or credit/debit card information unless you initiated the call, or know and trust the caller.
- Never give out your PINs or passwords; this information is strictly for your personal use.
- Elect to receive your financial statements online, and review them every month.
- Have copies of financial statements, receipts, destroyed or shredded. Thieves will often sift through garbage to obtain account data.
- Notify your financial institution about any suspicious emails, phone calls, text messages, or social messages that you receive.
- Notify your financial institution about any changes in your account information that you did not authorize.
- Always be skeptical about emails and messages marked “urgent”, messages requiring your “immediate attention,” or asking to “please contact us immediately.”
- Keep tabs on your mail; if you don’t receive statements, or new or renewal credit/debit cards on time, contact the issuing financial institution immediately. If you stop getting all mail delivery, contact your local post office.
- Don’t write your driver’s license or Social Security Number on your checks.
- Just because an email looks and sounds authentic doesn’t mean it is. Graphics can easily be replicated, and links can be hidden and redirected to fake sites. Identify who the real sender is and contact the institution or organization that the scammer is posing as.
- Do your research before buying online or via mobile. Always check product/service and company reviews, know and trust who you’re dealing with, and be aware of product return policies.