We all think we can easily spot a scam and will not fall victim to fraudsters, but it can happen to anyone.
To keep you informed, we have provided information on some of the most common types of frauds and scams that you will encounter, together with practical tips on how to protect your identity, accounts and funds from fraudsters. After all – prevention is better than a cure.
Here are some general tips on how to protect yourself against fraud:
- Notify HICU staff as soon as possible when you change your address or contact details.
- Always check your statements carefully and report any unauthorised transactions to HICU's friendly staff immediately.
- If you receive a telephone call from a person claiming to be a staff member requesting your PIN, password or card number, do not disclose any information. Read more under identity fraud.
- Never reply to any emails asking for personal or account information. We will never send you an email asking you to confirm account details. Read more under hoax emails.
- Remember that if something offered to you sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Read more under scams.
- Store your cheque book in a safe place, and make sure you complete cheques fully. Read more under cheque books.
- Safeguard your card and PIN at all times. Read more under card fraud.
- Ensure you keep up to date anti-virus and anti-spyware software installed on your computer. Read more under internet banking fraud.
There are many more important safeguards to protect you and your family against fraud. For more information on the latest fraud prevention methods, go to the Australian Government website staysmartonline.gov.au.
Identity fraud can occur in many ways, from somebody using your credit card details illegally, to having your entire identity assumed by another person to open bank accounts, take out loans and conduct illegal business under your name.
How to protect yourself from identity theft:
- Never send money or give personal details to people you don’t know and trust.
- If you receive a call from your bank or any other organisation, don’t provide your personal details—instead ask for their name and a contact number. Check with the organisation in question before calling back.
- Never rely on a number provided in an email or click on the provided link—instead find the contact number through an internet search or check the back of your ATM card.
- Regularly check your credit card and/or bank statements to ensure that suspicious transactions are detected.
- Shred all documents containing personal information, such as credit card applications and bank statements.
- Log directly onto websites you are interested in rather than clicking on links provided in an email.
- Always get independent advice if you are unsure whether an offer or request is genuine.
- Lock your letterbox securely to avoid your mail being stolen.
- Ensure you choose passwords that are not easy for someone to guess, such as your date of birth, pet’s name etc.
Signs of identity fraud
These can vary, but some typical signs that your identity is being used unlawfully are:
- A financial institution informs you they have received an application for credit that you have not applied for.
- You receive phone calls or letters advising that you have been denied credit that you have not applied for.
- You receive bank, mobile phone or credit card statements or notices in your name, of which you have no knowledge.
- You notice that you no longer receive your bank or credit card statement or you notice that not all your mail is being delivered.
What can you do?
If you believe that you have had personal papers stolen, or have become a victim of identity theft, notify HICU staff as soon as possible. You should also advise any other financial institution that you bank with so they are aware of the situation.
Any instance of identity fraud should also be immediately reported to your local police.
It is also a good idea to advise close family and friends as identity theft rings will often target more than one member of a household.
Financial institutions in Australia have been subject to various email scams that are designed to compromise the personal information of individuals in order to illegally obtain and transfer funds overseas.
There are generally two types of emails aimed at obtaining your personal information:
1. Phishing (pronounced fishing) emails
Phishing emails are designed to trick you into disclosing personal information such as account details, passwords or card numbers. Be suspicious of unexpected emails from a bank, credit union or building society asking you to supply information.
If you have accidentally given out personal information regarding your account details, please change your Access Code in Internet Banking immediately. If you are unsure how to do this or have any other queries, please contact our helpful staff and they will assist you.
Remember, financial institutions don’t do business via email and would never ask you to confirm your identity or supply your passwords via email.
If you receive an email claiming to be from Heritage Isle Credit Union asking for account or personal information or directing you to log in to an external site, please contact our staff immediately.
2. Virus or trojan emails
These emails come from senders who are usually unknown to the receiver. They contain links or attachments that may download and install malicious software (malware) onto your computer.
If you click on a link in these emails, or open an attachment, the malware will try to install itself automatically on your computer, though this could be blocked if you have the appropriate software security updates installed on your computer. Some of these viruses are even programmed to uninstall your anti-virus scanner prior to downloading these viruses.
If you have already actioned an email by clicking on the link, or you notice that your computer has become slower and you have other icons on your computer that you don't remember downloading, these are signs that your computer has been infected by viruses.
In this case, have your computer professionally cleaned by a computer technician to remove any viruses/spyware that may have been downloaded, and have them install the latest anti-virus and anti-spyware software.
There are numerous scams out there and many more scams being developed every day in an attempt to trick you into providing your personal information or giving up some of your hard earned money. The simply rule to remember is, if the offer seems too good to be true then it probably is.
For more information on scams go to www.scamwatch.gov.au
Cheque books are like cash, especially if they fall into the wrong person’s hands.
To protect your cheque book, follow these simple tips:
- Keep your cheque book in a safe and secure place.
- When you first receive your cheque book, ensure all cheques are present. Report any discrepancies to our friendly staff immediately.
- Never pre-sign cheques.
- Never give a person a signed cheque and ask them to complete the details.
- Do not use pencil to write your cheques. Use a biro or felt tip pen.
- Make sure that you fill out cheques fully so it cannot be easily altered. Place a line through unused spaces.
- Always cross cheques, marking them ‘not negotiable’ and make sure the payee is correctly identified.
- Always check your statements for any discrepancies.
- Always report any lost cheques or your cheque book immediately.
There are many different forms of card fraud. The most common is that someone obtains your card details and uses them over the phone or online to make large purchases in your name.
To protect yourself from card fraud, follow these recommendations:
- When you first receive your new card, sign it immediately.
- If the card is a replacement, cut up your old card.
- Safeguard your card and PIN at all times, and never carry your card and PIN together.
- Always cover your PIN when using ATM and EFTPOS machines.
- If you believe an ATM has been tampered with, do not use it.
- Ensure that the ATM transaction has been completed before walking away.
- Advise HICU of up to date phone numbers, these should include home, mobile and work – this will aid in staff being able to contact you when verifying transaction on your account
- Be aware of anyone acting suspiciously near the ATM
- Be alert for anyone trying to observe you entering your PIN
- Always keep your card in sight during a transaction.
- When shopping online, only deal with reputable companies, and check for the padlock symbol and https:// address
- If you are going overseas, advise HICU staff prior to leaving so that we can monitor any overseas transactions.
- If your card is lost or stolen, report it immediately.
Internet banking fraud occurs when someone uses your details to access your account in Internet Banking, and illegally transfers funds to a different financial institution. Access to your logon details is usually made possible through techniques such as hoax emails or by accessing Internet Banking from a PC you can’t trust.
The following tips will help you protect against Internet Banking fraud:
- Ensure you have up to date anti-virus and anti-spyware software installed on your computer.
- Never divulge your password or access code to anyone.
- If you have accidentally give out personal information, change your access code immediately and report the matter to HICU's friendly staff.
- Always access Internet Banking by typing heritageisle.com.au in your browser or save it to your favourites.
- Always look for the SSL encrypted connection as indicated by the https:// and a padlock in the top address bar. You can also check that the website's digital certificate is issued by Verisign to is2.cuviewpoint.net
- Always logout from your Internet Banking session and remember to close your browser.
- Do not use computers at public places, such as internet cafes for Internet Banking.
- Never reply to any emails asking for personal or account information.
- Change your Internet Banking access code on a regular basis.
- Regularly check your account balances and immediately report any discrepancies.
- For a second level of security, request a security token for transactions.