Fraud & Security
Your Financial Fitness is important to us. Every month, we will keep you updated on fraud schemes and other articles that may help you protect your from the latest identity theft and fraud scams. Please click on the links below for articles you may have seen posted in our weekly email blasts. Always be on the lookout for scams and fraud. And, should you suspect you may be a victim of fraud, please contact us at (603) 224-7731.
December 10, 2020
FTC's 12 Days of Consumer Protection
As part of the FTC’s 12 Days of Consumer Protection, a holiday series to help you save money and avoid scams, welcome to day five - where the FTC highlights holiday package emails and texts. Every day there's a new topic from shopping online and bogus shipping notifications to temporary job scams and fake charities. The FTC offers practical information you can use every day and encourages sharing with your family, friends, and community so they can be safe too.
|Fa-la-la-la fake |
Submitted by Carol Kando-Pineda, Attorney, FTC, Division of Consumer & Business Education
It's a busy time, and you get an email or text message that’s supposedly from UPS or FedEx, complete with one of their logos — and it seems legit. It says your item is ready to ship but you need to update your shipping preferences. But here’s the lump of coal: the message is bogus and there is no package. Scammers are phishing for your information. And if you click on a link or download the attachment, you’re likely to end up with a virus or malware on your device that steals your identity and your passwords.
Avoid any holiday reindeer-livery confusion and follow these tips:
Mal where? Guard against malware. Make sure you keep your software up to date. Set your security software, internet browser, and operating system (like Windows or Mac OS X) to update automatically.
- The weakest link. Don’t click. If you get an unexpected email or text message, don’t click on any links — or open any attachments. If you think it could be legit, contact the company using a website or phone number you know is real. Don’t use the information in the email or text message.
For previous articles on "The 12 Days of Consumer Protection, click here.
November 27, 2020
Holiday shopping season 2020
by Shameka Walker, Attorney, Division of Consumer & Business Education, FTC
The holiday season is upon us and retailers are already preparing for what they hope will be a successful shopping season. Because of COVID-19, it’s likely that we’ll be going online to look for those perfect gifts. With so many deals around and what seem like eternal “Black Friday" sales, it’s important to keep some online shopping tips in mind.
So, if you plan to shop from the comfort of your home this year instead of heading out in person for those doorbuster deals, first, make sure your home computer has the latest antivirus software updated. This will help protect you from hackers and identity thieves. Read more computer safety tips here.
Once you’re ready to shop, make sure you:
- Take time to compare products. To get the best deal, compare products. Do research online, check product comparison sites, and read online reviews.
- Check out the seller. Confirm that the seller is legit. Look for reviews about their reputation and customer service, and be sure you can contact the seller if you have a dispute.
- Look for coupon codes. Search the store’s name with terms like “coupons,” “discounts,” or “free shipping.”
- Pay by credit card. Paying by credit card gives you added protections. Never mail cash or wire money to online sellers. If the seller asks you to pay this way, it could be a scam.
- Use secure checkout. Before you enter your credit card information online, check that the website address starts with “https.” The “s” stands for secure. If you don’t see the “s,” don’t enter your information.
- Keep records of online transactions until you get the goods, confirm you got what you ordered, and that you’re satisfied you won’t have to return the item.
August 13, 2020
From the FTC - Scams in between stimulus packages
by Jennifer Leach, Associate Director, Division of Consumer and Business Education, FTC
Here is some information from the FTC about a second stimulus package which has not yet been finalized by Congress. While there’s a lot they don’t know, they DO know a few things about what scammers do when this kind of uncertainty is in the headlines.
If there’s another stimulus payment, you won’t have to pay to get it. Just like last time. Nobody will call to ask for your Social Security, bank account, or credit card number. Expect any stimulus program to look a lot like the first one: people who qualify would get money direct deposited, or you’d get a debit card or check mailed to the address you use for your taxes. The details will follow, if a bill gets signed into law. In the meantime, don’t pay to get any economic impact payment, and keep your info to yourself.
Don’t pay for job “opportunities.” Scammers know that lots of people need to find a job, and they’ll be happy to charge you for what winds up being nothing. Scammers also pay for online ads, promising you ways to earn money online. But do your research before you sign up — and certainly before you pay.
Never pay up front for mortgage help. In fact, it’s illegal for companies to charge you before they help you with your mortgage — but that doesn’t stop scammers from trying. If you find yourself behind on your mortgage, talk with your mortgage servicer right away to see what options you have. And whether you own or rent, it’s worth talking with a legal services organization if you feel like things are taking a hard turn south toward foreclosure or eviction.
If you spot one of these scams — or any scam at all, please tell the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.
July 10, 2020
Consumer Alert from the FTC - Activate your EIP Visa Debit Card now Submitted by Cristina Miranda, Consumer Education Specialist, FTC
Did you get an Economic Impact Payment VISA debit card in the mail from the U.S. Department of the Treasury? If you did, you might get a letter from Treasury this week, reminding you to activate your card. Treasury’s letter gives you instructions on how to activate the card. Once you do that, you can get cash or use it anywhere that accepts VISA debit cards. Or, you can also transfer the money from your EIP debit card to your bank account. This is especially helpful if you can’t or don’t want to visit an ATM. Did you throw away the card by mistake, or don’t recall getting one? No worries. Your letter from Treasury will tell you how to request a replacement card, which will include calling a 24-hour customer service line at 1.800.240.8100. It’s free to replace your card. For the full article, please click here.
June 15, 2020
Credit Reports are now free, every week
by Cathlin Tully Attorney, FTC Division of Privacy and Identity Protection
If you’re feeling anxious about your financial health during these uncertain times, you’re not alone. That’s why the three national credit reporting agencies are giving people weekly access to monitor their credit report — for free.
This is some helpful news, because staying on top of your credit report is one important tool to help manage your financial data. Your credit report has information about your credit history and payment history — information that lenders, creditors, and other businesses use when giving you loans or credit.
Now it’s easier than ever to check your credit more often. That’s because everyone is eligible to get free weekly credit reports from the three national credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. To get your free reports, go to AnnualCreditReport.com. The credit reporting agencies are making these reports free for the next year.
If you’re one of the many Americans struggling to pay your bills right now because of the Coronavirus crisis, here’s what you can do:
- Contact the companies you owe money to. Ask if they can postpone your payment, put you on a payment plan, or give you a temporary forbearance.
- Check your credit report regularly to make sure it’s correct — especially any new payment arrangements or temporary forbearance. The recently passed CARES Act generally requires your creditors to report these accounts as current.
- Fix any errors or mistakes that you spot on your credit report. Notify the credit reporting agencies directly. You can find out more by reading Disputing Errors on Credit Reports.
How to transfer money from your EIP debit card to your account
Submitted by Cristina Miranda, Division of Consumer and Business Education, FTC
Recently, we wrote about the Economic Impact Payment debit cards some of you are getting. We’ve heard that some people have had trouble getting money off the card and into your bank account, without visiting an ATM. Treasury heard you, too, so here are some clarified steps for how to do that.
- Activate your card by calling 1.800.240.8100 (TTY: 1.800.241.9100). Remember, you’ll have to give your Social Security, or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.
- Then, go to EIPCard.com to register for online access. (Or you can download the Money Network Mobile App and register for mobile app access.) From either place, click on “Register” and then follow the steps to create your User ID and Password. You’ll need your routing and bank account number on hand to link your card to your bank account. The easiest way to find those numbers is by calling your bank, or visiting your bank’s website. If you happen to have an actual checkbook, find the first nine numbers at the bottom of one of your checks. This is your routing number. The ten to 12 numbers after that are your bank account number. NHFCU’s routing and transit number is 211489083.
- Once your card and bank are linked, choose “Move Money Out” and follow the steps to set up an ACH transfer. Transfers should post to your bank account in 1-2 business days.
The limit per transfer is now $2,500. This means that most people can transfer all their money off the card in one transaction. And if your card is lost or stolen, the EIP card provider will give you one free replacement card.
Because it’s always worth repeating: remember, no one will text, email, or ask you to click on a link to activate this card or to get your money. And unless you’ve asked for help, no one will ever call you about the EIP card. If anyone calls, texts or emails you about the EIP card, don’t give them any personal or financial information. It’s a scam. Report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.
May 26, 2020
Finding a furry friend in the era of COVID-19
Submitted by Namukolo Kasumpa, International Fellow, FTC Division of Consumer & Business Education
If you’ve been thinking about adding a pet to your family, now may be a good time. In addition to pets offering unconditional love, companionship, and amusement, studies have shown
that the bond between people and their pets has health benefits. Regular walking or playing with pets can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels.
Finding a pet may be a little different during the pandemic. While many shelters, rescue leagues and breeders are closed for in-person visits, many are still posting photos and videos of available animals, and hosting online meet-and-greets. But like any major decision, it pays to do your homework — especially because scammers are trying to take advantage of the situation.
If you’re looking for a new pet, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Work with a reputable animal shelter or rescue league that is local. Most legitimate shelters and rescue leagues post their adoption fees online and they won’t ask you to pay additional unexpected fees. If you stick with a local organization, you may not have to pay until you pick up your new pet. The Humane Society of the United States can refer you to local shelters.
- Do your homework when buying a pet. Research prices for the breed you’re interested in buying. If someone is advertising a purebred dog for free or at a deeply discounted price, that’s likely to be a scam. Get detailed information about the seller, including the person or company’s full name, phone number and postal address. Then research the seller online. See what other people are saying about their experiences. Are there complaints? Does the word “scam” pop up? The Humane Society also has tips for finding a reputable breeder.
- Search online for the animal’s image. Scammers often use the same photos again and again. If the image of your cute pup or adorable kitten shows up on multiple sites, it’s a pretty good bet you’ve stumbled onto a scam.
If you’ve spotted a pet adoption or sales scam, report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint and your State Attorney General.
- Don’t pay with a gift card or wire money. A sure sign of a scam is someone who insists you pay by gift card or wire transfer. Gift cards and money transfers are similar to sending cash – once you send it, it is almost impossible to get it back. Instead, pay by credit card. That way, if there’s a problem, your card issuer may be able to help.
May 7, 2020
Did an ID theif steal your stimulus payment? Report it to the FTC and IRS
Submitted by Seena Gressin, Attorney, Division of Consumer & Business Education, FTC
Do you think your economic impact payment has landed in the hands of an identity thief? You can report it to the FTC and the IRS at the same time. Here’s what to do.
Visit IdentityTheft.gov, the government’s one-stop resource for people to report identity theft and get a personal recovery plan. Click “Get started.” The next page asks, “Which statement best describes our situation?” Click the line that says, “Someone filed a Federal tax return – or claimed an economic stimulus payment – using my information.” You’re on your way. IdentityTheft.gov will ask you some questions so that it can complete an IRS Identity Theft Affidavit (IRS Form 14039) for you, and submit it electronically to the IRS. You can include a personal statement too, to tell the IRS details about how your identity was misused to claim your economic impact payment. You also can download a copy of your completed Affidavit for your files. And, IdentityTheft.gov also will give you a recovery plan with steps you can take to help protect yourself from further identity theft.
Whether you’re waiting for your payment, or even if it’s already arrived, keep alert for scammers trying to steal your personal information, your money, or both. Remember, the IRS will not call, text you, email you, or contact you on social media asking for personal or bank account information – even related to the stimulus payments. Also, watch o