Identity Theft

Identify Theft is when someone steals personal information such as social security number or credit card number to commit fraud or theft.  Contrary to a growing belief, most thieves still obtain personal information through traditional rather than electronic channels.  In the cases where the method was known, 68.2% of information was obtained off-line versus only 11.6% obtained online.  Javelin/Better Business Bureau

Conventional methods such as through lost or stolen wallets, misappropriation by family and friends, and theft of paper are still among the most common ways thieves gain access to information.


(fish´ing) The act of sending an e-mail to a user falsely claiming to be a legitimate business in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft.

The e-mail directs the user to visit a Web site where they are asked to update personal information, such as passwords and credit card, social security, and bank account numbers, that the real business already has. The Web site, however, is bogus and is set up only to steal the user’s information.  Because it is relatively simple to make a Web site look like a real one,  the scam counts on people being tricked into thinking they are actually being contacted by that business.

If you ever have concerns about your accounts, always call the business directly with a phone number you already have on file.  Never respond to e-mails verifying any personal information that you have already provided the business.


Generally, e-mails from foreign countries are scams.  Also, if you receive an e-mail notification that you are a lottery winner and you did not sign up for it or buy a ticket, then it is a scam.  Also, be wary of e-mails asking for your account information in order to wire you funds.  Usually, they will say you can keep 10% of the proceeds for helping them.


A skimmer is a device, now the size of a small pager that has a slit in it.  When a credit/debit card is swiped through it, it reads the cardholder's name, card number, expiration date and invisible encrypted verification code.  This information is stored within the skimmer, which is then downloaded onto a computer.

Waiters in restaurants or hotel clerks normally have been reported as performing skimming, although it can be done by anyone who has access to consumer's cards during the course of business.

Don’t let the waiter/clerk leave with your card.  Pay at the counter and keep your card in view at all times.

Another gimmick some have seen is a sign that reads, “Clean Your Card Here for free.”  Just swipe your card through this machine and it will clean it for you.  This is just a scam to get your card information.

Also, if you notice an unusual attachment on an ATM machine or anything unusual, then the machine may have been fitted with a skimming device.  Your transaction will complete as normal but your card will also have been swiped through this device.  It will most likely be the same color and look like it’s part of the machine.

Fraudulent Cashiers Checks/Money Orders

With the advances in printing technology, bogus cashier’s checks and money orders are numerous.

Another Scenario:  Someone pays you with a Cashier’s Check or Money Order but the payment is more than the agreed upon amount.  They call you and say just send me a check for the difference.  The Cashiers Check or Money Order is bogus and you find out a few days later when it is returned on your account.

For this reason, we’ve now had to place holds on cashier’s checks and money orders.  We have been able to save members financial woes by doing so.