Identity theft occurs when someone assumes your identity to perform a financial transaction or other act without your knowledge or permission. According to TransUnion, identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America with 19 people falling victim to it every minute.
Often, the stolen information is used to take over accounts, open credit cards or obtain medical care long before the theft is ever discovered. An identity thief can file a tax refund in your name and get your refund. In some extreme cases, a thief might even give your name to the police during an arrest.
While many people first find out about identity theft from their financial institutions, there are some red flags that indicate your personal information may have been stolen and used for fraudulent purposes. The information provided here is meant to educate and help you to protect yourself against fraud and identity theft. Watch for warning signs to make sure you don't fall prey.
The FBI and other state and federal crime agencies have reported an increased number of cases involving fraudulent state unemployment insurance claims amid COVID-19. Many states have been affected to include Massachusetts. Learn more about what you need to know and how you can protect yourself.
This is a message sent as an email, via fake websites made to appear as if they are from a legitimate company. This type of email will typically direct the user by a link to a website where they are asked to update personal information, give passwords, credit card, social security, or bank account numbers. Legitimate organizations already have this information.
The identity thief will contact you claiming to be a bank, credit card company, government agency or similar organization. In many cases, the identity thief’s caller ID may appear to be similar to that of a legitimate financial institution, and will ask the victim to confirm personal information over the phone. This can be either a live conversation or urgent sounding voicemail asking you to call back and leave information. Fraudsters also use phishing attacks against mobile devices and tablets (SMS phishing, or Smishing), leaving a convincing or urgent text message either with a link to a malicious payment servicer or with a call-back number. If you call the number back, you’re connected to an Automated Voice Response (AVR) system that asks for personal or financial information.
Thieves gain access to information stored on the magnetic strip of an ATM/Debit card by placing a device, called a “skimmer,” on an ATM where you would insert your ATM/Debit card. A “skimmer” is small in size (size of a deck of cards) and can be made of metal or hard plastic. Some skimmers may have cameras on them and are placed near the keypad.
Scammers notify you and state that you have won a lot of money or a fantastic prize in a competition, lottery or sweepstake that you don’t remember entering. The notification may come by mail, telephone, email, text message or social media. In order to claim your prize, you will be asked to pay a fee. Scammers will often say these fees are for insurance costs, government taxes, bank fees or courier charges. You may also be asked to provide personal details to prove that you are the correct winner and to give your bank account details so the prize can be sent to you. Scammers then can gain access to your accounts and use your identity.
Recovering from identity theft is a lengthy process. We are here to provide assistance to our members. Please contact us for more information at 413-733-2800.
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