Helping You Protect Your Data
At MED5 FCU, helping you protect your data is a top priority. We wanted to share a few steps you can take to help protect yourself against identity theft.
Monitor Your Account for Suspicious Activity
- Enroll in MED5 FCU Online Banking or if you are already enrolled – sign in to monitor your accounts
- Download and use Card Valet to protect your lost or stolen MED5 debit cards
- Download and use the MED5 Mobile Banking App to monitor your accounts
- Set up Text/Email Alerts to be aware of activity/transactions
- Contact MED5 FCU if any discrepancy is noticed or to dispute transactions by calling 605-342-7776
Protecting Your Social Security Number
- Do not provide your Social Security Number unless absolutely necessary. If a business asks for your Social Security Number, do your best to assess their need for it before sharing.
- Be cautious of your surroundings when disclosing your Social Security Number. Be aware of who is listening when you give personal information over the phone, whether at your desk at work, or in public on a cell phone. Do not use your full or partial Social Security Number as a Personal Identification Number (PIN) or as a password.
- Do not transmit your Social Security Number over the internet unless you know that the connection is secure and you know how the recipient will protect it, and even then only when necessary (tax forms, account opening, etc.).
- Be cautious and ensure you have the correct number before faxing any forms containing your Social Security Number.
- Do not record your Social Security Number or driver’s license number on personal checks or other negotiable instruments.
Closely Monitor Your Credit Reports
If you check your credit report regularly, you may be able to spot identity theft and limit the damage caused. Credit reports contain information about you, including what accounts you have and how you pay your bills. If an identity thief is opening credit accounts in your name, fraudulent accounts are likely to show up. Look for inquiries from companies you haven’t contacted, accounts you didn’t open, and debts on your accounts that you can’t explain. Check that information like your Social Security Number, address, name or initials, and employers are correct.
The law requires each of the major nationwide consumer reporting agencies to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months.
Safeguarding Personal Information
- Minimize the amount of personal information a criminal can steal. Don’t carry extra credit cards, your Social Security card, birth certificate or passport. Leave your Social Security card and unused credit cards in a safe and secure location.
- Do not leave financial statements or other documents with your personal information lying around where others can view them. A significant portion of all identity fraud is committed by relatives, friends, employees and other individuals with access to your home or business.
- If your account statement does not arrive as expected, contact MED5 FCU at 605-342-7776. A missing statement could mean an identity thief has taken over your account and changed your billing address to cover their tracks.
- Shred all discarded personal information as many identity thieves have obtained the information they needed by going through the victim’s trash.
- Promptly retrieve incoming mail and consider taking outgoing mail containing personal information to your local post office or placing it in a U.S. Postal Service mailbox to reduce the chance of mail theft. And if you’re going to be traveling, you can put a vacation hold on your mail by calling the U.S. Postal Service at 800-275-8777 or going online to www.usps.gov. Consider paperless options for your bills and financial statements.
- Keep a list of all your credit cards, loans, account numbers and expiration dates in a safe place so you can notify creditors in case of theft or loss.
- Never provide personal information to anyone over the phone unless you initiate the call and you know the company is reputable. Scammers may send emails, text messages, or pop-ups that appear to be from a legitimate business and ask you to call a phone number to update your account, receive a “major” credit card, a prize, or other valuable items — then ask you for personal data, such as your Social Security Number, credit card number or expiration date, or mother’s maiden name. Because they use Voice Over Internet Protocol technology, the area code you call does not reflect the scammers’ actual location.
- If you receive a call you did not initiate requesting personal information ask them to send you a written request. If they refuse or you are not comfortable with the phone call, tell them you’re not interested and hang up. If you wish to contact the company directly, go to your financial statements, debit or credit card, or the company website to get a legitimate contact number.
The revelation that Equifax had a major data breach that impacts millions of American consumers has people on edge, no doubt. Chances are good that credit unions are taking many calls and fielding questions from nervous members.
CUAD has been monitoring the information that has been disseminated so far. You should know that CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle has already sent a letter to Equifax Chairman and CEO Richard Smith, urging Equifax to contact all consumers impacted by its recent data breach, in order to immediately begin addressing the threat to consumer credit files and the potential for identity theft. Nussle also called for a detailed briefing because CUNA remains unconvinced that the steps Equifax has proposed are sufficient to address the data breach.
Having one’s personal information stolen is no small matter. Nussle states that “the loss of this information puts these consumers at risk for fraud and identity theft as this information is specific to individuals and represents the core of their digital identity. When its members are at risk, credit unions also must take related steps to protect those members. The risk of identity theft could be lifelong when a Social Security number is compromised.”
Nussle has requested a number of specifics from Equifax on its breach and consumer notification and protection efforts, so CUNA and the leagues can adequately inform its member credit unions of the negative impact the breach might have on operations. CUNA has a site with general information and resources here: www.stopthedatabreaches.com
Meanwhile, here is what we know for sure:
This major data breach affects over 143 million Americans’ personal information – or about half of the U.S. population. The data includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, home addresses and, in some cases, driver’s license information.
Filene, the non-profit, independent think tank for the consumer finance industry, recommends that consumers take the following steps (below) to find out whether you were personally affected. This would be good information to share with your members. Equifax is offering complimentary identity theft protection and credit file monitoring regardless of whether your information may have been impacted; the option to enroll is available at the link below as well.
To determine if your personal information may have been impacted by this incident:
- Visit httpss://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/potential-impact. You will be asked to provide your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number.
- Based on that information, you will receive a message indicating whether your personal information may have been impacted by this incident.
- Regardless of whether your information may have been impacted, Equifax will provide you the option to enroll in TrustedID Premier. The enrollment period ends November 21, 2017. Be sure to read the terms.
There is a Staying cyber safe flyer (click here) that outlines best practices for protecting your personal information after a breach, as well as tips to stay cyber safe every day. This would be good information to share with your members.
It is vital that consumers remain vigilant and protect their personal data. Remind your members of these basic steps they can take to avoid fraud:
- Don’t respond to email, text or telephone calls asking for personal or financial information.
- Frequently review account activity and immediately report unauthorized transactions.
- Check your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — for free — by visiting annualcreditreport.com. Many consumers are not aware that they can obtain one free credit report from each of the three credit reporting companies (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) every 12 months. It is suggested that by spacing those reports, consumers can view a report every four months to ensure that information is accurate. Accounts or activity that you don’t recognize could indicate identity theft. Visit IdentityTheft.gov to find out what to do.
- Consider placing a credit freeze which makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name. Keep in mind that a credit freeze won’t prevent a thief from making charges to your existing accounts. If you decide against a credit freeze, consider placing a fraud alert on your files. A fraud alert warns creditors that you may be an identity theft victim and that they should verify that anyone seeking credit in your name really is you.
- Monitor your existing credit card and bank accounts closely for charges you don’t recognize.
- File your taxes early — as soon as you have the tax information you need, before a scammer can. Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job. Respond right away to letters from the IRS.
There is a lot of speculation from an advocacy perspective on what the future will hold for public policy. Chairman Hensarling from the Senate Banking Committee has indicated he will hold hearings on the matter. It is possible this incident could impact data breach legislation. There is much more information to be gathered. Our intention at CUAD is to keep you informed as we ourselves learn more, and to continue to advocate in the best interests of our credit unions and their members.