Elizabeth, NJ Firemen's Federal Credit Union
Identity Theft Prevention Tips
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Automated Phone Call Scam Resurfaces

A credit union recently reported receiving hundreds of calls from members and nonmembers saying they received a phone call on their land line or cell phone with an automated message indicating their account may be locked or closed, or their card numbers were compromised. The victims are asked to enter their credit or debit card number. 
Ongoing education and awareness for your members is critical to prevent their accounts from being compromised through this version of vishing (voice phishing). Members should never respond to these calls by providing the requested personal or financial information -- no matter how urgent the message may seem.

Risk Mitigation Recommendations:

  • Advise members to never respond to any telephone call requesting personal or financial information.
  • Consider alert notifications to members on your phone system, website, newsletters or statement stuffers.
  • Educate members to take caution when visiting social network sites and sharing personal information.
  • Instruct members receiving this type of call to report it to the following:
    • Credit union;
    • Federal Trade Commission (877.382.4357);
    • State attorney general;
    • Local law enforcement; and
    • Phone carrier -- land line or cell phone provider.
  • If a member responds to such a call by providing account or card information, close or block the accounts to prevent fraudulent transactions.
  • Members who provide the requested information during the call should contact one of the three credit bureaus to place an “initial fraud alert” on their credit report.


Prevention tips:

ALARM - A 5-Step Plan Towards Better Security
By Neal O'Farrell

The acronym ALARM represents the five most important steps every consumer and small business owner needs to follow if they want a foolproof way to minimize their exposure to cybercrime and identity theft.

ALARM stands for:






And while it might also sound like a 5-step program towards recovering from substance abuse, there are many parallels. ALARM is a path to recovering from the apathy and indifference that makes most of us so vulnerable to these crimes.

It involves understanding why you could be a victim, how your attitude and behavior can make you vulnerable, how others (especially identity thieves) see you, and how you need to change that vulnerable behavior.

Step 1: Accept
The first and most important step in any security plan is a full acceptance that the threats exist.

That means an acceptance of:

The seriousness and variety of the risks.

The likelihood that you will be a victim.

The likely long-term impact and cost if you are a victim

The need to take personal responsibility.

The need to take planned action now.

If you don’t fully and truly accept that there are life-changing cyber threats out there, and that you’re the only one who can really make a difference, then any further action is meaningless.

But if you do “accept,” you’re now ready to move on to Step 2 – Learn.

Step 2: Learn
I once heard a senior executive at a well-known security firm tell a reporter that user education and awareness are an obstacle to security, and that users should instead leave security to technology. She was obviously just trying to sell more technology, but she couldn’t have been more wrong.

When it comes to fighting cybercrime and identity theft a little knowledge is not a dangerous thing, and as part of the planning process you should take the time to learn as much as you can about:

What the threats and risks are.

Who the bad guys are.

What they want from you.

How they attempt to get it.

What exploitable mistakes they expect you to make.

What you can do to minimize your exposure.

What role security technology can play.

How that technology works.

Step 3: Assess
Step 3 is where you really get to see yourself as the bad guys see you, and in this step your focus in on assessing and measuring your own vulnerability.

There are more than a dozen aspects of our daily lives that make us all vulnerable to cybercrime and especially identity theft, from the way we use computers and the internet, to the way we monitor our credit, handle our mail, and pay our bills.

Your next job is to assess where and to what extent you are vulnerable in areas such as:

Your attitude and behavior.

Your awareness and vigilance.

Your use of computers and the internet.

Your family security rules and expectations.

Use of credit cards.

How you handle your mail.

How you bank and pay bills.

How you monitor your credit.

How you create and use passwords.

How you manage your financial records.

How you behave in public.

The goal is to see yourself as the bad guys see you, but before they do. You have to first find your own vulnerabilities before you can proceed to the next and most important step – Respond.

Step 4: Respond
How you respond to everything you’ve learned will ultimately determine how well you’re insulated from crime and that’s why Step 4 is so important.

This step focuses on what security measures you’re going to put in place to patch your vulnerabilities, and these “patches” could include:

Changes in your behavior, habits, and attitude.

Creating of a set of security rules for you and your family.

Better use of security technologies.

Changes in how you monitor your credit.

Changes in how you handle your mail.

Changes in how you run your business.

Changes in how you use and manage your credit cards.

Security around your home.

What you plan to do if you do fall victim.

The ultimate goal of Step 4 is to create a list of personal and family security rules that address the vulnerabilities you discover and which you can learn to live with.

Step 5: Maintain
The final step in planning your security is probably the easiest, but only if you’ve completed Steps 1 through 4. That’s because if you’ve genuinely embraced all the other steps, Step 5 simply requires you to give yourself a regular checkup, to make sure that changes in your life have not created new vulnerabilities, and that you’re up to speed on the latest threats, tricks and techniques used by the bad guys.

Good security is not a set-and-forget program, but requires you to regularly review and update your security so it addresses changes in the threat environment and in your lifestyle.

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Open M-F 8:00 AM to 12 Noon
Closed last day of each month
Phone: 908-351-7770
Fax: 908-351-5751
Audio Response: 877-442-4636 (24/7)


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