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Learn what to do and who to contact

Great Erie Federal Credit Union is committed to educating our members about fraud and identity theft protection. To that end, we've compiled information on ID theft, phishing, and scams that are designed to keep you up-to-date and your money safe.

General

  • Guard your Social Security number.
  • Make photocopies of vital information.
  • Beware of mail or telephone solicitations that offer prizes or awards.
  • Always shred papers with financial information, including credit card offers before discarding.
  • Check your credit at least once a year. The Federal Trade Commission offers a free annual credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com.
  • Take advantage of Credit Sense to monitor your credit score.
  • Stay current about the latest identity theft scams.
  • Be aware of scams related to online relationships, known as romance scams. Never send money to someone he/she meets on the internet and do not deposit checks from people they meet on the internet, including job offers.

Credit Cards

Email and Online Security

  • Do not open or respond to suspicious emails. Microsoft and other companies will not solicit services to fix issues with your computer. If you are contacted by anyone regarding the need to fix or clean your computer, do not respond and instead contact a local trusted computer specialist about the issue.
  • Don't follow a link in an email. Always type the website URL address yourself.
  • Make sure to install firewalls or anti-spyware programs on your computer.

Phone and Mail Precautions

  • Treat all unsolicited phone calls with skepticism and do not disclose any personal information.
  • Be wary of callers claiming to be your relative in need of financial assistance or claiming to be from the IRS.
  • Promptly retrieve incoming mail and do not place outgoing mail in your mailbox.
  • Know your billing and statement cycles.

Identity Theft

Identity theft has become one of the fastest-growing financial crimes in the United States - and the best defense is to be informed. Identity theft affects an estimated 9 million Americans each year, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Victims can spend an incredible amount of time and money trying to restore their financial reputation. To learn more, and prevent identity theft from happening to you, read the identity theft FAQs below.

Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information, including your name, Social Security number, bank accounts, credit cards, etc., to commit fraud or other crimes. Most often, people don't even know that they have become a victim until it has already negatively impacted their lives.

Companies collect an immense amount of data on private individuals. Much of this data is given voluntarily when creating online accounts for different websites and apps. It is important that you give your personal information only to trusted sources with a proven track record of data security and privacy. There are numerous data breaches every day at large and small companies. Until these companies are held to the same standards as credit unions and banks, the data breaches will likely continue. Read more information here.

Criminals can use your identity for so many things, including some that you would never think of. They can take your information and add charges to your existing credit card/debit card, open up new credit cards in your name, write bad checks using your bank or credit union account number, take out loans in your name, and even use your name to set up utility and phone services. They can also use your name and address to apply for jobs, to mislead police when they're being questioned or arrested, to rent houses or apartments, or to even order government IDs such as a driver's license.

The best way to protect yourself and to ensure that your identity has not been stolen is to regularly monitor your monthly billing and account statements. You can order a free annual credit report once every 12 months from each of the major nationwide consumer reporting agencies. To order your free Annual Report, visit www.annualcreditreport.com.

You can also call toll-free 877-322-8228 or complete the annual credit report request form and mail it to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281

And take advantage of Credit Sense to monitor your credit score.

1. Notify your creditors that identity theft has occurred. To notify the three major nationwide consumer reporting agencies, you need to contact only one to alert them of the fraud.

2. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission by using the online complaint form. Call the FTC's Identity Theft Hotline, toll-free at 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338) or TTY at 1-866-653-4261. Or write Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580

3. File a police report with specific details regarding the identity theft, including a copy of the FTC complaint form. This report can be used to protect yourself from the negative impact when given to the three major nationwide consumer reporting agencies or to companies where the thief used your personal information. The identity theft report can block the fraudulent information from appearing on your credit report, prevent companies from collecting on debts that were a result of the identity theft, and allow you to place an extended fraud alert on your credit report that would require potential creditors or lenders to contact you by phone or in-person before extending you any credit.

4. Dispute any unauthorized charges or activity. Close all accounts with unauthorized activity as well as those that were opened fraudulently.

  • Use the Card Sense Mobile App as your best defense against fraud.
  • Guard your Social Security Number.
  • Do not open or respond to suspicious emails.
  • Install firewalls and/or anti-spyware programs on your computer.
  • Beware of telephone or mail solicitations that offer prizes or awards.
  • Always shred papers with personal and financial information, including credit card offers.
  • Examine the charges on your bills before paying them.
  • Cancel unused credit card accounts.
  • Report credit/debit card fraud to the police and cancel the cards immediately.
  • Check your credit once a year. The Federal Trade Commission offers a free annual credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com.

There are three main credit bureaus you can contact if you need to check or dispute items in your credit history.

Great Erie Federal Credit Union is a full-service credit union with New York branches in Orchard Park and East Aurora.

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