How to Protect Yourself Against Financial Fraud

Fraudsters and scammers have become increasingly common. No longer limited to bigger cities, these people are targeting individuals right here in our community. As a financial institution, it is our job to educate our members about fraud and provide tips on how to prevent it.

I think someone scammed me. What do I do?

If you believe you’re a victim of a scam or fraud, contact our member service team at 402-758-6500 during our hours of business. 

  • Monday-Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Saturday: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Sunday: CLOSED

Stay up to date on the latest scams from sources like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC).

What can I do to prevent scams and fraud?

Keep your personal information confidential. Do not give out information over the phone, email, or online unless you know the source asking is legitimate. Personal information includes:

  • Usernames
  • Passwords
  • Social Security number
  • Account numbers

Regularly change your passwords and PINs and keep your mobile device passwords protected.

Create strong, hard to guess passwords.

Monitor your credit reports, as this is one place where you can quickly spot unauthorized activity. You can check your credit report from the three major credit bureaus free of charge once a year at annualcreditreport.com.

Monitor your bank accounts – checking, savings, and credit cards. If you notice any suspicious charges that you did not authorize, contact us immediately.

Shred unnecessary documents, including:

  • Old tax returns – Saving tax returns for a possible audit is good; however, you no longer need the tax information after three years.
  • Old photo I.D.s – School I.D.s, security badges, and even old state I.D.s may include personal information that can be used against you in the long run.
  • Bank statements – Any statement that includes bank account numbers and personal information puts you at risk of identity theft.
  • The credit card offers – Generic bank offers and credit card offers received through the mail should be disposed of to prevent identity thieves from taking out a credit card in your name.
  • Pay stubs – Like many of the documents mentioned above, pay stubs contain bank account and personal information that can be used against you.

Do not trust caller I.D. as phone numbers can be spoofed, making you think the call is from a legitimate company when it is actually from a scammer.

Hang up on robocalls. Do not press “1” to be removed from the call list as your number is then sold to other robo-callers.

If you are not expecting a call, confirm that the call and source are valid. Do not assume the caller is telling the truth. Scammers portray themselves as law enforcement, a credit union employee, the IRS, a credit card company, or other companies with which you do business and try to use your accounts to wire money illegally or access your money.

Report fraud to local law enforcement and the FFIEC in efforts to catch the fraudsters. This may help you recuperate your losses and prevent them from selling your information.

What is identity theft?

When someone uses your personal information (name, address, Social Security number, bank account numbers, or medical insurance account numbers) without your permission, they are committing identity theft. This serious crime is happening more and more every day. Someone can steal your identity by stealing an important document with personal information on it, like your Social Security card or tax return form. Make sure to shred documents with personal information or store them somewhere secure. Learn how to protect your personal information by familiarizing yourself with these other types of threats like phishing, malicious emails, or spam. 

What is phishing?

Phishing is an attempt to obtain information such as your username, password, financial account numbers, etc. by using emails or malicious websites and then infecting your computer with viruses. This type of activity can also occur on social media sites or through phone calls.

Take a look at Visa’s article on the Top 5 ways fraudsters try to steal your information.

What is a malicious email?

This email type appears as if it is coming from your financial institution or other reputable sources and asks you to act quickly because your account is compromised. You can easily contact Centris to see if it is legitimate at 402-758-6500 during our business hours. 

What is spam?

Anyone with an email account knows what spam is. It is junk mail in the digital form that shows up in your email account inbox. These emails often include links that, if clicked on, provide hackers with access to your personal information. When in doubt, it is best not to click on links or delete the email entirely.

How can I detect if a check is fraudulent?

Scammers are becoming savvier by the day and create checks that are so realistic-looking that even banks and credit union tellers are fooled. Depending on your banking relationship and the amount of the check you want to cash, your checking cashing habits and behaviors, and how much you have in loans and deposits with your financial institution, the check you are cashing may never be questioned by the teller.

If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, you may be susceptible to fraud.

  • Is the check from an item that was sold on the internet?
  • Is the amount for more than the selling price?
  • Was the check sent via overnight delivery (i.e., FedEx)?
  • Was the check drawn on a business or individual account different from the person buying the item? Was the check drawn on an out-of-state business?
  • Were you instructed to wire or send money (or a gift card) as soon as possible to another city or country?
  • Has communication with the person only been through email?
  • Did the email communication start in response to a job offer?

How can I protect myself at the ATM?

Unfortunately, ATMs are susceptible to fraud, robberies, and burglaries. When using an ATM, always make sure you check your surroundings for any unusual activity. In addition, please take a look at the ATM itself before approaching it, if possible. Does the ATM look okay? Look for any alteration. For example, make sure the ATM hasn’t been tampered with, the screen is running, and there are no broken or missing pieces. If you see something unusual, visit another ATM location and contact us during business hours. If you have the option to visit a drive-thru ATM, do so for a safer experience.

What are phone and online fraud?

Fraudsters will attempt to get money or personal information from you over the phone, via email, or online. Never give out your information through these channels unless you know the source is legitimate. Even when you believe you know whom you’re dealing with, look for clues that may indicate otherwise. Such clues include:

  • A typo or grammatically incorrect text in the subject line, body of the email, or URL
  • Extra letters or numbers in the URL or transposed letters/numbers
  • Font changes and bold text on keywords or dollar amounts
  • Request for a percentage of the money back through wires or money orders or untraceable payment methods such as gift cards and bitcoin
  • Threats against you or your loved ones if you don’t comply with their request
  • Pressure to complete a transaction
  • Calls from varying locations and numbers
  • Calls impersonating Centris, another financial institution, or the transaction review department asking for account access information

Scammers are taking advantage of people by creating false websites, luring people with discounts, and fake sales. It’s important to be vigilant with the websites and people you share your banking information. If you’re making purchases via social media, make sure to verify the legitimacy of the seller or company by doing a quick internet search for their website and search previous complaints. Check out this article by the Better Business Bureau.

A general rule of thumb to follow; if the offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Anyone can be a victim of fraud and knowing the warning signs can keep your personal information and money safe. Pay attention, be aware, and protect yourself.

The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) developed the STOP. THINK. CONNECT. campaign, which promotes a culture of online safety and security. The NCSA offers a wealth of information to keep you safe. Education and awareness are key to protecting your digital identity. If you know what suspicious online activity looks like, you are better equipped to prevent yourself from falling victim. For more information about cybersecurity, go to Stay Safe Online or the Federal Trade Commission.