What you can do to minimize your chances of becoming a victim of fraud.
Today, institutions across the globe continue to report dramatic surges in fraudulent activity. Perhaps even more alarming, frauds and scams have become increasingly sophisticated. Which means it’s become all too easy to fall prey to a host of deceptive tactics used by cunning cyber criminals.
Having access to your personal information is like money in the bank for criminals. You can help ensure the safety of your accounts by remaining vigilant about any suspicious activity, and carefully reviewing all your account transactions on a regular basis.
Rest assured, your ALEC accounts are protected and insured.
ALEC employs highly advanced security procedures and very strict precautions. Our experienced staff continually monitors your accounts as well as our internal systems for any signs of fraud or criminal attempts to steal money or personal information.
For extra peace of mind, all ALEC accounts are insured up to $250,000 by American Share Insurance (ASI), the nation's largest private deposit insurer.
Following these simple tips can help keep your money safe.
Credit and Debit Card Fraud.
Fraud involving credit and debit cards typically occurs when cards or card numbers have been compromised.
To protect yourself from card fraud:
- Keep a list of all your cards, including the account number and phone number of the card issuer.
- Review your statements as soon as you get them. Reconcile statement charges with your receipts to ensure they’re for the correct amount.
- Always sign a new card immediately.
- When making a purchase with a card, make sure you get back the card and the receipt. Check the receipt for accuracy.
- When using a card at a restaurant or store, make sure that all blank lines are marked through so that no one can change the final amount.
- Never sign blank card receipts.
- Only travel with the cards you plan on using.
- Never give the account number of the card over the phone unless you initiate the call.
- Do not write the PIN for the account on the card.
Check Cashing Fraud.
Check cashing fraud occurs when individuals use information taken from your checks to access your accounts and commit fraudulent acts.
To protect yourself when using checks:
- Always safeguard your checks. Don’t leave checks out in an open area. Never leave checks in your car or on your office desk.
- Keep your blank checks and canceled checks in a safe place. Put them in a vault or other secure location. Destroy old blank checks if you’re not going to use them.
- Limit the amount of personal information printed on the checks to your name and address. Use checks with a plain design — fancier checks make it easier to forge the signature. When ordering checks, leave off your driver's license number, Social Security Number and other information that could be useful to criminals.
- Don't leave bill payments sitting in an unlocked mailbox for pickup. Credit thieves steal bills from rural mailboxes at the end of driveways so they can get account information, checking information and even your checks. Drop off your bills at the post office, at a curbside USPS mailbox, or in a mail slot rather than leaving them in an unsecured street mailbox.
- Be discreet when writing checks in public places. Write your checks carefully and leave no space in which figures or words can be inserted.
- Reconcile your monthly statements as quickly as possible to ensure all transactions are accurate. Contact your financial institution immediately if you do not receive your statement when expected.
- When an error is made writing a check, destroy the check or boldly write "canceled" across it and store it with your other canceled checks.
- If your checks are lost or stolen, report it immediately to your financial institution.
- When you reorder checks, mark your calendar. If you don't receive your checks within 15 working days, contact your financial institution immediately to inquire as to the status of the order.
- Consider alternatives to check writing. Paying online or by phone, or setting up automatic payments, can result in fewer check theft opportunities.
ATM fraud can occur when individuals lose their card, allow others to use it, or when their Personal Identification Number (PIN) is compromised.
To protect yourself when using an ATM:
- Never write your PIN on your card or in your wallet. Memorize it and keep it secret from anyone not authorized on your account.
- Never use your date of birth, Social Security Number, license number or street address as a PIN.
- Don't throw away receipts at the ATM location. Keep them to reconcile your account, then securely dispose of them when you get home.
- Be aware of your surroundings when using the ATM. At night, try to use a machine that’s well lit and avoid dark, remote locations.
- Make sure to take your ATM card from the machine before you leave.
- Be aware of the person behind you. Make sure no one can see you entering your PIN or how much money you withdraw.
- Review your statement promptly to ensure all transactions are accurate. Report any discrepancies immediately.
- Destroy old ATM cards immediately after receiving replacement cards.
Also be aware of these ATM scams.
Two especially sneaky methods of committing ATM fraud can easily and quickly wipe out your account balance in moments.
- Card Withholding
Card withholding occurs when your card gets stuck in the ATM, and you simply leave the card in the ATM planning to contact the financial institution soon after. In this case, thieves place a substance into the ATM card slot causing the card to stick and not eject. This is a common occurrence at drive-up ATMs where a user might not be paying close attention to other people or cars nearby.
After you leave frustrated, the thieves simply extract your card with pliers and can then use your card and stolen PIN at other ATMs and point-of-sale (POS) terminals.
Skimming typically involves a situation where an employee allows a thief to connect a laptop computer to a POS device that accepts ATM cards, such as at gas stations or retail establishments. When you swipe your ATM card, the data on your card’s magnetic strip is copied. Thieves may also install a hidden video camera that records you entering your PIN.
Other common scams to recognize and avoid.
More scams that criminals have devised to cleverly steal your money or identity include:
- Foreign Lotteries.
Congratulations — you’re notified that you’ve won a lottery or sweepstakes in a foreign country, but first must send funds to pay for fees and taxes on the winnings. DON’T deposit any checks that are purported to be winnings from a lottery or sweepstakes that you don't remember entering. Take time to research any offers you receive over the Internet.
- Craigslist Scams.
You’re selling an item but have been given a check over the amount you’ve asked for or agreed upon. The buyer wants you to refund the overage by writing a check from your account.
In addition, Craigslist scams involving job opportunities have been reported. The fraudulent employer may overpay for your services rendered and ask for a refund in the form of a check for the amount overpaid.
Secret Shopper Scams.
Similar to the Craigslist job opportunity scam, this illicit job scheme requires you to be a secret shopper and use a wire transfer service such as Western Union. You’re asked to wire funds from your own account as part of the job.