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Financial Scams and Identity Theft
New Hampshire Postal Credit Union would like to warn you to be on the look-out for financial scams intended to steal your money and/or your identity. Anyone can become a victim and you need to know how to help protect yourself from various “phishing” (pronounced fishing) and "vishing" scam artists.
ftc take charge against identity theft
Take Charge: Fighting Back Against Identity Theft

The FTC’s comprehensive guide for victims of identity theft. Download the PDF file here »

Visit the
FTC's Identity Theft website
for more information on how you can protect yourself from identity theft.
More useful consumer protection links:
Latest Updates
Latest Updates!


OPM Identity-Protection Phishing Campaigns

US-CERT is aware of phishing campaigns masquerading as emails from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) or the identity protection firm CSID. For those affected by the recent data breach, the legitimate domain used for accessing identity protection services is
https://opm.csid.com
.

US-CERT (
https://www.us-cert.gov
) recommends that users visit the OPM website at
http://www.opm.gov/news/latest-news/announcements/
. Users are also encouraged to report suspicious email to
https://www.us-cert.gov/report-phishing
.

Safe Online Holiday Shopping Tips
Members around the country are gearing up for the holiday shopping season. Fraudsters are also preparing for the holiday season to prey upon unsuspecting members.
Learn more »

Credit/Debit Card "Brute Force" Attacks Up
Recently, card issuers and financial institutions across the industry have experienced an increase in attempts by unknown fraudsters to break the card verification value / card verification code (CVV / CVC) on compromised cards, and thereby to commit card fraud, including ATM fraud.
Learn more »

Phishing Activity On The Rise
The NH Postal CU has received information within the last week suggesting an increase in phishing activity. The fraud appears to be widespread and fraudsters are utilizing a variety of ways to obtain personal member information.
Learn more »

E-mail Airline Ticket Scam
A new e-mail “phishing” scam seeks to plant malicious software on the computers of recipients who open an attachment purportedly related to the purchase of an airline ticket. Learn more »

MasterCard Three-Digit Security Code Scam
A new twist on phishing aims to obtain the three-digit security code printed on the back of MasterCard debit cards. The phishers are trying to get enough information to perform fraudulent card-not-present transactions (Internet, telephone, and mail-order purchases). Learn more »

"Smishing"is a cell phone text messaging tactic used by scammers to obtain financial information from unsuspecting account holders. Learn more »

IRS WARNING of scammers tricking taxpayers into divulging financial account information for fraudulent purposes. Learn more »

Fake Check Scams are on the rise.
Visit
www.fakechecks.org
 to learn how you can protect yourself against fake check scams.

Under NO circumstances will the New Hampshire Postal CU (or its affiliates) either e-mail or call to ask you for your Account Number, PIN, Password, or any other personal information.

Do not under any circumstances respond to any e-mail asking for your personal information.

Read below  to find out more about fraudulent e-mail and phone calls (known as "Phishing" and/or "Vishing").

Safe Online Holiday Shopping Tips

Members around the country are gearing up for the holiday shopping season. Fraudsters are also preparing for the holiday season to prey upon unsuspecting members. Ongoing awareness of these scams is critical to help you protect your personal and financial information this holiday season.

Risk Mitigation Recommendations

  • Secure home computers and mobile devices: Members should ensure their home computers are secured with a firewall and antivirus software before performing any online transactions. Operating system patches should be downloaded when made available by software vendors. Members should also protect mobile devices (mobile phones, tablets, etc.) used to conduct online transactions by installing antivirus software.
  • Phishing scams: Members should not respond to emails, text messages, and phone calls that advertise the sale of gift cards, holiday gifts, promotions, contests and jobs.
  • Be wary of holiday offers for free items: Members should avoid tempting holiday offers, such as free downloadable applications for smartphones, antivirus software, screen savers, ring-tones and electronic greeting cards, which may be infected with viruses and/or malware.
  • Be wary of shopping online at Craigslist and public auction sites: Members might purchase merchandise that is never delivered. Members should follow the best practices published by Craigslist and other public auction websites to avoid scams.
  • Be wary of social media scams: Fraudsters often place bogus advertisements for free prizes on social media sites. Members should be instructed to not respond to these advertisements.
  • Bogus charity scams: Members should confirm the legitimacy of the charity through the Better Business Bureau.
  • Monitor accounts: Members should periodically monitor all their accounts to identify any unauthorized transactions and immediately report unauthorized transactions to the credit union.
Credit/Debit Card "Brute Force" Attacks Up

Recently some card issuers and financial institutions across the industry have experienced an increase in attempts by unknown fraudsters to break the card verification value / card verification code (CVV / CVC) on compromised cards, and thereby to commit card fraud, including ATM fraud. This attempt to commit fraud is commonly known as a "brute force attack". To execute these crimes, email is often used to transport phishing scams and malicious software (malware) to obtain personal information including personal identification numbers (PINs) and to take over legitimate merchant accounts to test the compromised cards.

You can help to reduce the likelihood of this type of fraudulent activity succeeding by being alert for email that:

  • contains unfamiliar or suspicious links or attachments;
  • is unsolicited and/or from an unknown sender;
  • is sent multiple times from different senders;
  • contains poor grammar or incorrectly spelled words.

If you receive an email that contains any of these elements or any combination of these elements, you should delete it immediately. Do not open it, click on the links or open any attachment. You should not attempt to reply to the email or forward it to anyone.

Phishing Activity On The Rise

The NH Postal CU has received information within the last week suggesting an increase in phishing activity. The fraud appears to be widespread and fraudsters are utilizing a variety of ways to obtain personal member information. Education is a never-ending process, but NH Postal CU is committed to this task so scammers are not able to trick our members into divulging personal and financial information.

Examples of recent reported phishing activity includes the following:

  • Text messages were sent to members indicating they should call a specific number and provide credit card information based on a freeze on their account.
  • Computerized calls to members indicated possible tampering of their check cards and asked them to enter their 16-digit check card number. The phone number shown on Caller ID appears to be a legitimate number, possibly hijacked by the fraudsters.
  • Members are receiving phone and text messages stating their cards had been suspended and directed them to call a number to reactivate. When members call back, they are instructed to input their card numbers and PIN. It is our understanding that counterfeit cards were then created and ATM/Debit card PIN-based transactions took place in Romania. For this to happen, we believe that most likely CVV/CVC counterfeit protection encoded in the mag stripe was not validated.
  • Fraudulent e-mail and text messages are being sent to appear as if they are from the NH Postal CU. The credit union’s Web site has been re-created by the scammer, who then asks members to enter their card numbers, expiration date, PIN andCVV2/CVC2 numbers. Members are also being called in the middle of the night stating their cards are experiencing fraud, and they are then asked to provide personal information.
  • Credit cardholders received a telephone message from an unknown party who left a telephone number for the member to call. The caller ID read ‘economic relief.’ When members returned the call, they were prompted to press 1 to lower rates, a person then came on and asked for social security number, credit card number, etc.
  • The Credit Union National Association (CUNA), NOT CUNA Mutual Group, has also been the subject of recent phishing attacks. Credit union members received e-mail messages appearing to be from legitimate e-mail addresses for CUNA and other credit unions stating “Your card has been deactivated.” The members are directed to call an 800 number (there are multiple 800 numbers being used) to ‘activate’ their card and PIN. One aspect of this scam causing particular concern is the realistic nature of the call: a message indicates all operators are busy, callers hear music for several seconds, and then a normal sounding (non-computer generated) voice prompts them to leave their name and a callback number. Our understanding is they will receive a call back from an actual person making the request seem valid.

Unfortunately, the threat of fraud due to phishing attempts continues to be very active. Fraudsters are increasing in sophistication and this type of activity shows no sign of slowing down. In these economic times, it is even more critical to continue educating members on the various ways fraudsters try to obtain their personal information for financial gain.

E-mail Airline Ticket Scam

A new e-mail “phishing” scam seeks to plant malicious software on the computers of recipients who open an attachment purportedly related to the purchase of an airline ticket.

The fake e-mails use the names of various U.S. airlines including Northwest Airlines, Continental Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, US Airways, Allegiant Air, Delta Air Lines, Alaska Airlines, Midwest Airlines, and Hawaiian Airlines.
The e-mail messages urge recipients to confirm a ticket purchase they never ordered. The e-mail requires an entry by thanking recipients for buying the tickets using the “Buy flight ticket online” service offered by the airline. Giving fake details of the purchased ticket, it asks them to confirm the purchase by printing the invoice and the ticket after clicking on an attachment in the mail.

However, when unsuspecting recipients click on the e-mail, a malicious software program downloads onto their computers. This “malware” enables the fraudsters to gain confidential information such as credit card access codes, Social Security numbers, and net banking passwords by allowing them remote access to the computers.

Airlines say there are a couple of things inside the mail that should warn people of the scam. The e-mails contain mistakes in spelling and grammar, and the formats in which the itineraries are presented are different than those used by the airlines.

Members should be aware that these e-mails are not coming from the airline. If the format does not look familiar to you, and you have not recently purchased a ticket, do not open the attachment. Delete the e-mail right away.

Below is an example of an e-mail received by a credit union executive:

From: Hawaiian Airlines [mailto:tegoo@qq.com]
Sent: Thursday, November 13, 2008 4:24 PM
To: James Mxxxx
Subject: Your flight ticket

Dear Valued Customer
Thank you for using our new service ‘Buy airplane ticket Online” on our website.

Your account has been created:
Your login: 1mooreDacu,com
Your password: PASS8QBE

Your credit card has been charged for $424.85.

We would like to remind you that whenever you order tickets on our website you get a discount of 10%! Attached to this message is the purchase Invoice and the airplane ticket. To use your ticket, simply print it on a color printed, and you are set to take off for the journey!

Kind regards,
Hawaiian Airlines

MasterCard Three-Digit Security Code Scam

With the holiday season here, Members increasingly use their debit cards to make purchases at the mall, on the Internet, or over the telephone. When plastic card use increases this time of year, so do the scams.

A new twist on phishing aims to obtain the three-digit security code printed on the back of MasterCard debit cards. The phishers are trying to get enough information to perform fraudulent card-not-present transactions (Internet, telephone, and mail-order purchases).

Under this scam, a telephone call is placed to a legitimate cardholder.  The caller claims to be a representative from MasterCard informing the cardholder of suspicious card activity. The caller provides details of an unusual transaction and asks if the cardholder made this purchase, which, of course, the cardholder did not. The cardholder is then asked to verify possession of the card. To do so, the cardholder is asked to read the three-digit security code on the back of the card. The fraudster then provides a control number in the event the cardholder needs to call back with questions, making the call seem legitimate.

The caller does not ask for the credit or debit card number, and that is why some members are fooled into believing the call is legitimate. But the fraudster already has the card number; what they don’t have is the three-digit security code from the back of the card, and that is what they are after with this scam.

The three-digit code on the back of the MasterCard card is a security tool used for non face-to-face transactions. When conducting transactions that are not face-to-face, many merchants will ask the shopper for the three-digit code to complete a card authorization. If the criminal obtains this three-digit number and already has your member’s card number, card expiration date, and billing address, the criminal may be able to obtain authorization for fraudulent transactions. 
 
Members should never give out that three-digit code to anyone who may contact them by telephone, Internet, or mail. This security tool is used when a card-not-present transaction is performed, and during the transaction the merchant may ask for the code to complete the authorization process.

REMEMBER:  Never respond to any e-mail, telephone call, voice message, text message, or letter received through the mail that requests personal and financial information, including the three-digit number on the back of the card.

IRS WARNING

The Internal Revenue Service has issued an alert, warning that the IRS name and logo is being used by fraudsters attempting to access the taxpayer financial information through e-mail, telephone, and cell phone text messaging.

Note: The IRS does not ask for personal identifying or financial information via unsolicited e-mail, telephone calls, or text messaging. 

The following scams are being used to trick taxpayers into divulging financial account  information for fraudulent purposes:

  • Taxpayers receive a phone calls telling them that they are eligible for a sizable rebate for filing their taxes early, and they are told to provide their financial account information for direct deposit.

  • Taxpayers receive e-mails that claim they are eligible for a tax refund of a specific amount, and they are instructed to click on the link in the e-mail to access the refund claim form, which requires them to disclose financial account information.

  • E-mail notifications addressed to individual taxpayers claim that their tax returns will be audited. The individual is instructed to click on the link within the e-mail and complete forms disclosing personal and financial account information.

  • Businesses, accountants, and “Treasury” managers are receiving bogus e-mails regarding tax law changes. To obtain information on publications for businesses, estates taxes, excise taxes, exempt organizations, as well as IRAs and other retirement plans, the recipient is instructed to click on a series of links. The IRS suspects that clicking on these links downloads “malware” onto the recipient’s computer, which can be used to search for financial records and other private information.

  • A person claiming to be an IRS employee telephones taxpayers to say the IRS has mailed them a check that has not been cashed. The caller then asks for verification of financial account information.
What are Phishing and Vishing?

“Phishing” is a term used to describe fraudulent e-mail messages designed to steal your personal information. These e-mail messages may appear to come from a legitimate business – even using legitimate logo’s. But the fact is, they are actually from thieves masquerading as a legitimate business. The e-mail will ask you to click on a link - taking you to a phony website - created by a phishing scam-artist.

If you click on the link, the phony website will ask you for personal information. The thieves then steal your information to harm your good name, access your accounts, open new accounts and even commit crimes in your name. Phishing e-mail messages typically suggest that if you do not update your personal information, your account will be closed.

There are at least two types of "Vishing" methodologies scammers use:

Online Version
The scammer sends a blast e-mail, disguised to appear as though it’s from your credit union, bank, online payment service or other well-known business. The e-mail, which may have  a trusted logo, typically reports a "security" problem with the recipient’s account and urges the member/member  to call a telephone number to "straighten things out."

Although many members know better than to click on hyperlinks in strange e-mails for fear of being "phished," they often feel safe calling a telephone number that appears to be local or toll-free. When the member calls, they reach an automated attendant prompting them to enter their account number, password or other private information for "security verification" purposes.

Cold Call Version
Some "vishers" use automated dialing programs to "cold call" members. The members caller ID device may list a legitimate-looking local phone number, to inspire trust from the recipient. A prerecorded message (or sometimes a live "employee") claims the member’s account has been compromised or needs updating or verification. The member is asked to enter their account information, which is digitally transcribed onto the hard drive of the scammer’s computer.

Rest assured that NH Postal Credit Union will never send you an e-mail message requesting any personal information. You already supplied this information to us when you opened your account. If you receive such an email message – this is a scam and you should contact us immediately.

What is Smishing?

Credit unions across the country are reporting that their member’s are receiving unsolicited text messages. It’s an attempt at Smishing, the latest form of phishing. In Smishing, an e-mail tries to lure a recipient into giving personal information via SMS, the communications protocol used to send text messages to a wireless device. The recent scam is targeting credit union and other financial institution members.

In smishing, the members receive a text message via cell phone warning that their bank account has been closed due to suspicious activity. It then tells them they need to call a certain phone number to reactivate the account.

Unsuspecting callers who dial the number provided in the text message will be taken to an automated voice mail box that prompts them to key in their credit card or debit card number, expiration date, and PIN to verify their information.

If you have a question concerning your account or credit/debit card, contact your financial institution using a telephone number obtained independently, such as the phone number from your statement, a telephone book, or other independent means.

Look For These Warning Signs
  • The e-mail message will urge you to act “quickly” or your account will be closed.
  • The wording may be sloppy and contain errors and misspellings.
  • Personal information is requested – such as user names and passwords, debit card numbers and PINs, social security numbers, mother’s maiden name, etc.
  • An “@” symbol in the linked website address may indicate that the source might be imitating the bank. (For example www.nhpcu@internet.com is fake).
  • Watch out for non-secure website pages that ask for sensitive information. Secure sites use encryption technology to protect your personal information.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Odds are, “valuable offers” and “great deals” are other ways to obtain personal information from you.
What Can You Do If You Receive Suspicious
Phishing or Vishing Email Messages or Phone Calls?
  • Contact the credit union immediately.
  • Contact the local police department.
  • Change your user names and personal identification numbers.
  • Maintain a written log of what has happened to you, the steps that you have taken, and the names of the people that you have spoken to.
  • Check your account online or your monthly account statement as soon as you receive it and report any irregularities to us immediately.
  • Report suspicious activity to the Federal Trade Commission (for the Consumer) FTC at
    www.ftc.gov
    or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261.
  • Forward any email message received that is “fishing” for your personal information, to spam@uce.gov.
  • Obtain FREE information on consumer issues, at the Federal Trade Commission website at
    www.ftc.gov
    .
  • Visit the FTC’s Identity Theft website at
    www.ftc.gov/idtheft
    to learn how to minimize your risk of damage from ID theft.
  • Visit
    www.ftc.gov
    to learn other ways to avoid email scams and deal with deceptive spam.
  • Visit
    www.fakechecks.org
    to learn how you can protect yourself against fake check scams.