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10/2/2020 | Patty Chang, Vice President of Risk Management for Greater Nevada Credit Union

Don't Be Fooled! Protect Your Identity and Finances Against Fraud and Scams

It’s crucial to protect your identity right now, as many criminals and scam artists see COVID-19 as an opportunity to prey on Americans—especially seniors. According to data from the Federal Trade Commission, Americans have lost $145 million to fraud related to COVID-19. Since the beginning of 2020, consumers have filed more than 205,000 reports of fraud linked to the coronavirus, according to the FTC.
Finances Web Example for Fraud Concerns
On average, people lost $300, and that amount doubles for individuals who are older than 80—they lost $655 on average. Often, these fraudulent entities promoted fake stimulus checks, unemployment benefits, treatments, and charities. While it’s unfortunate that unscrupulous people are using this global pandemic as a way to steal people’s money and identities, the reality is that scams happened before COVID-19 and will continue afterward. That’s why it’s vital to protect your identity by keeping your information and finances secure.
 

How to Protect Your Identity and Finances

As advancements in technology rise, so does the potential for fraud. Our Greater Nevada Credit Union team continuously monitors unusual and suspicious activity on behalf of our members. However, understanding how to identify fraud and questionable activity is your first defense line to protect your identity.
 
For a primer, watch our short tutorial on identity protection in the Greater Financial Education Center. It covers ways to protect your valuable information, including how to combat and cure identity theft. Then take a look at these 16 ways you can keep your information secure, and see which actions need your attention.
 
  1. First and most importantly, NEVER give your login information, online account password, or PIN (Personal Identification Numbers) to anyone. GNCU will NEVER call and ask you to verify your personal information, such as your social security number, PINs, passwords, or CVV numbers from your card. If anyone calls and requests this information, even someone claiming they’re from GNCU, hang up and call GNCU’s fraud team immediately at (775) 334-8635.
  2. Regularly review your account activity and immediately report anything suspicious. If you’re a GNCU member, to report suspicious activity, or file a dispute, click here.
  3. Update your contact information with your financial institution so that it can detect and alert you when potential fraud is detected.
  4. Set up account alerts with your bank and credit cards to check balances and deposit activity. If you’re a GNCU member, you can do that in GNCU’s Personal or Business eBranches.
  5. Leverage the technology that your financial institution has available to protect your identity. For example, if you’re a GNCU member, download the GNCU Cards app to manage your debit card’s status (turn your card on and off), and choose your preferred transaction alerts.
  6. Insert—don’t swipe—your debit card. The EMV chip in your debit card provides the highest level of security available for protecting your card information. Always insert your card and avoid swiping it whenever possible.
  7. Ensure that each person listed on an account has separate online banking login information. For example: Person A and Person B are both on an account together, both Person A and Person B have individual login IDs and passwords. Please use the login information associated with yourself, not the joint owner.
  8. Have good password habits. Change your password for mobile and online banking every three months, and make sure to use complex passwords that identity thieves cannot guess easily. Don’t use birthdays, social security numbers, phone numbers, or any other easy-to-figure out information. Change your passwords ASAP if any companies you do business with have data that has been compromised.
  9. Make sure your debit cards, credit cards, account information, and checks are all in a safe place. If you carry these on your person, be aware of your surroundings when shopping. Make sure to put your card away in a safe place where it can’t be stolen or lost after every purchase.
  10. Secure your personal devices by placing locks on phones and computers. Enable the security features on mobile devices, especially if you have contacts, banking websites, and applications saved.
  11. Don’t keep your debit card PIN written down anywhere.
  12. Secure your Social Security Number. Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write your number on your checks.
  13. Don’t respond to unsolicited requests for personal information (your name, birth date, social security number, or bank account number) by phone, mail, or online.
  14. Collect mail promptly. Put a hold on your mail when you are away from home for several days. Report any un-received mail to your appropriate vendor. Also, be aware of your billing cycles. If bills or financial statements are late, contact the sender.
  15. Shred unnecessary receipts, credit offers, account statements, and expired credit cards to prevent dumpster divers from getting your personal information.
  16. Update sharing and firewall settings when you’re on a public Wi-Fi network. Consider using a virtual private network, which can give you the privacy of a secured private network.
 
To learn more about how to protect your identity, educate yourself on fraud prevention, and understand how GNCU protects your accounts, learn how to dispute account activity, and more, visit our Fraud and Disputes Resolution Center.