As your local, trusted financial services resource, our goal is to keep our members aware of local instances of fraud so that you can best protect your financial assets. Here are some things of which to be aware.
- Identity Theft — criminals and fraudsters attempt to obtain people's personal information in a variety of ways, and then use it to open credit cards, make purchases or file taxes, among other things. Remember to always shred any paperwork or documentation that contains your personal identifying information such as your name, address, birthdate, and/or social security number. As well, don't let mail sit in your mailbox for extended periods of time. If you suspect your identity has been stolen, here's a quick list from the FTC on what to do now.
- Phishing — email phishing is when criminals design an email with non-secure, embedded links in it that appears to come from a trusted source. These emails may ask you to click a specific link to verify your personal information, or to call a specific number for account support. Be mindful of where these emails come from - check the email address or url of any link they direct you to. If it looks strange, it is probably not legit.
- Check Washing & Check Kiting — fraudsters literally use a chemical to "wash" your written information off your check and replace with phony amounts, which they then withdraw from your account. Know to whom you are writing checks, and keep an eye on your online banking or statements to make sure that the amount that clears your account is the amount you wrote your check for.
Beware of Scams
We want to help you avoid becoming a victim of fraud.
To avoid becoming a victim of fraud, do not provide personal information, account numbers, banking or credit card numbers, PINs or log-on IDs through email links, text messages, or pop-up windows. If you receive a call or text message stating that it is from Montana Credit Union requesting this information, please do not respond and notify your nearest branch or contact us by phone at 406-727-2210.
We have seen instances where people receive unsolicited, fraudulent corporate, or cashier's, checks from Montana Credit Union. If you receive a check believed to be fraudulent, please contact the issuer to verify the authenticity of the check. We are more than happy to verify the authenticity of a corporate check. Please be aware that a check that you receive in which you are asked to deposit the check and then send a MoneyGram, or wire, to a different person, is most typically a fraudulent check scam.
Preventing Online/Identity Theft
Here are some additional tips and resources that Liberty Mutual recommends to help prevent becoming a victim of online identity theft.
Take these important steps today to protect your name, credit and reputation:
REVIEW YOUR CREDIT REPORT from each of the three credit agencies listed below twice a year. See if there are accounts or addresses you don't recognize. Is your social security number correct? Have there been more credit inquiries than normal? Any of these may be early signs of identity theft. If you find something suspicious on your credit report, call the agency's fraud hotline immediately. You also may want to add a consumer fraud alert, which asks creditors to telephone you each time a new account is opened in your name.
LIMIT THE USE OF YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER. Provide your social security number only when necessary and never provide it in response to an unsolicited email. Don't carry the card in your wallet and never print it on your checks.
SHRED UNEEDED IMPORTANT PAPERS — especially credit card solicitations — with a crosscut shredder. Some identity thieves try to piece cut papers back together.
DON'T USE YOUR MOTHER'S MAIDEN NAME as a password on personal accounts; it's too easy to learn. Change it to another word with the creditors. When creating a password, include letters, numbers and symbols (for example: E$G%2Q) since they are more difficult for identity thieves to guess.
DON'T GIVE OUT FINANCIAL INFORMATION ONLINE OR ON THE PHONE unless you initiated the contact and you know the party you are dealing with.
PROTECT YOUR ONLINE LOG-INS AND PASSWORDS Don't share your passwords or login names and avoid leaving or writing them down near or around your computer. Protect them as you do your ATM and credit card numbers.
LEARN MORE ABOUT IDENTITY THEFT AND HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF BY VISITING:
DON'T BE A VICTIM… If you suspect identity theft or online fraud, report it to your local police, the three credit agencies listed below and the Federal Trade Commission.
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
INTERNET CRIME COMPLAINT CENTER
To report fraud: 888-766-0008
To order your credit report: 800-685-1111
To report fraud: 800-888-4213
To order your credit report: 800-888-4213
To report fraud: 888-397-3742
To order your credit report: 888-397-3742
Obtaining a Loan With a Security Freeze on Your Credit
Many people have placed a security freeze on their credit recently, in light of the Equifax data breach. While this is a good practice, there are a couple things we would like you to be aware of:
- Because of this, your loan application may be delayed a few additional days
- It is your responsibility to contact the credit bureau(s) and request a "thaw" of your credit so we can pull your credit report in relation to this loan application
- The cost of lifting and reinstating the security freeze is your responsibility
- Credit bureaus are required to life the freeze within 3 business days of your request to them
- Your security freeze can be reinstated once we have pulled the necessary report to review with your loan application. Please let us know if you need to be notified it was pulled.
- Any co-borrowers or co-signers associated with your application will also need to lift security freezes before we can process your loan application
- If we cannot access your credit report, it may impact the processing of your loan application
Montana Credit Union uses TransUnion to pull credit reports. You may only need to contact them and not all three credit bureaus to temporarily thaw your credit. TransUnion can be reached at 888-909-8872 or https://www.transunion.com/customer-support/contact-us-consumers
The integrity of your personal information is important to us. We encourage anyone who may have had their information compromised to keep a security freeze in place, but also want you to recognize that it does impact the loan process. Please speak with one of our lenders if you have any questions.