The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the major nationwide consumer reporting companies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion-to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. The three nationwide consumer reporting companies have established a central website and a toll-free telephone number through which you can order your free annual report. They have requested you do not contact them directly as they will not be able to process your request.
Toll-free number: 1-877-322-8228
What Is Identity Theft?
Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information, without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes. A few examples of why identity thieves want your personal information include:
Identity theft is a serious crime. People whose identities have been stolen can spend lots of time and money cleaning up the mess the thieves have made of their good name and credit record.
WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT PHISHING SCHEMES
Phishing uses spam (unsolicited email) to bait consumers into disclosing personal information usually through creating a web site that imitates the look of a legitimate web site. The consumer then submits their personal information to the imposter, who then uses the information to commit identity theft. The Department of Justice recommends following three simple rules when you see emails or web sites that may be part of a phishing scheme: Stop, Look, and Call.
Following are several web sites that provide more information about Internet security:
HOW TO RECOGNIZE FRAUDULENT EMAIL
Be wary of any seemingly legitimate email request for account information, such as asking you to verify or reconfirm confidential personal information: your account number, Social Security number, passwords, or other sensitive information.
It’s hard to detect a fraudulent email, because the email address of the sender often seems genuine (such as email@example.com), as do the design and graphics. But there are clear signs to be aware of. For example, fraudulent emails try to extract personal information from you in one of two ways:
Like the e-mail, a fraudulent web site is designed to trick you into believing it belongs to a company you know by using its brands as domain names and/or its graphics. The ultimate goal of this fraud is to use your information to gain unauthorized access to your bank or financial accounts or to engage in other illegal acts.
Do not reply to any email requesting your personal information, or one that sends you personal information and asks you to update or confirm it. If you receive an email you are suspicious of, contact the company through an address or telephone number you know to be genuine. First Community Bank of Hillsboro will never send you an email that requests your account information or asks you to verify a statement.
If you suspect you have provided confidential account or personal information to a fraudulent web site, change your password immediately, monitor your account activity frequently and report any suspicious activity to the company.
Below are links to government websites and resources concerning online identity theft and steps you can take to protect yourself online.
OCC CONSUMER ADVISORY ON AVOIDING CASHIER’S CHECK FRAUD
Many consumers have become victims of scams involving a fraudulent cashier’s check. A cashier’s check is a check that is issued by a bank, and sold to its customer or another purchaser, that is a direct obligation of the bank. Cashier’s checks are viewed as relatively risk-free instruments and, therefore, are often used as a trusted form of payment to consumers for goods and services.
However, cashier’s checks lately have become an attractive vehicle for fraud when used for payments to consumers. Although the amount of a cashier’s check quickly becomes “available” for withdrawal by the consumer after the consumer deposits the check, these funds do not belong to the consumer if the check proves to be fraudulent. It may take weeks to discover that a cashier’s check is fraudulent. In the meantime, the consumer may have irrevocably wired the funds to a scam artist or otherwise used the funds – only to find out later, when the fraud is detected – that the consumer owes the bank the full amount of the cashier’s check that had been deposited.
Each scam involving a fraudulent cashier’s check may be different, but some of the more common scenarios are:
Scams also may involve other types of checks. For example, the fraudulent check may appear to be written on the account of a real person or company or be written on an account that contains insufficient funds to cover the check. Other scams involve fraudulent postal service money orders or fraudulent money orders that appear to have been issued by a bank.
The result of these scams is that the fraudulent check will be returned unpaid. The bank will then deduct the amount of the check from your account or otherwise seek repayment from you, and you will lose either the goods that you sold, the money that you sent to the third party, or both.
What is a fraudulent cashier’s check?
A cashier’s check is a check issued by a bank and payable to a specific person. Because a cashier’s check is issued by a bank, itself, the cashier’s check is paid by funds of the bank and not the depositor. Therefore, if an item is genuine, there is very little risk that the instrument will be returned.
Sometimes, however, a cashier’s check is not genuine, and, if you unknowingly accept a fraudulent cashier’s check in exchange for goods or services, you will likely be the one who suffers the financial loss.
How can you tell if a cashier’s check is fraudulent?
It can be very difficult for either you or your bank to tell. When you deposit a check into your account, your bank generally is required by law to make the funds available within a specific period of time (usually, one business day for a cashier’s check or other official instrument).This is true even if the check has not yet cleared through the banking system. Therefore, even if the funds have been made available in your account, you cannot be certain that the check has cleared or is “good.”
Your bank also may not be able to determine that the check is fraudulent when you deposit it. Rather, your bank may learn of the problem only when the check is returned unpaid by the other bank – which may take a couple weeks or more. Scammers try to make the item look genuine, which will delay discovery of the fraud. Once the item has been returned unpaid, your bank, generally, will be able to reverse the deposit to your account and collect the amount of the deposit from you.
What are your rights?
If you find yourself in this situation, you ordinarily would have a remedy against the person who wrote the check. However, you will have great difficulty pursuing any remedy against these scammers, especially if they reside in a foreign country or have disguised their identities.
Tips for Avoiding Cashier’s Check Fraud
If you have become victimized by a fraudulent check scam, please follow these guidelines:
Anytime a scam involves a cashier’s check, official check, or money order from a bank, and you believe that it could be counterfeit; you should contact the issuing bank directly to report receipt of the check and to verify authenticity. When contacting the bank, do not use the telephone number provided on the instrument, as this number is probably not associated with the bank, but rather with the scam artist.
To locate a bank’s mailing address, you can check the FDIC’s Web site at:
In addition to contacting the appropriate banks, there are others whom you also should notify if you receive a counterfeit item. They include:
Ensuring your devices are updated and patched is extremely important and is a simple step to help you stay safe online.
Software updates not only improve how your device runs – they also fix or remove bugs, patch security vulnerabilities that are exploitable by hackers, and add new and improved features.
By regularly updating and patching your devices, you can help keep your personal information safe and out of the wrong hands.
Personally Identifiable Information (PII) refers to any information that can be used to identify, locate, or contact an individual. This includes, but is not limited to – your name, Social Security number, date of birth, address and phone number.
It is important to be mindful of where you might use, or share, your PII. Be careful not to include any identifying information in your passwords, PIN numbers or passcodes.
We also recommend considering what you post online as social media is a huge source for cybercriminals to gain your private information. Look over the privacy settings of your social media accounts and enable multi-factor authentication when possible.