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Welcome To The Insighter!

Explore the latest happenings at Kirtland CU and learn about important topics from around the financial world. Here’s your insight! To learn about retirements, investments and financial planning, check out Invested now.

The Thieves You Can’t See

By Ashleigh, K-Staff


Identity theft is a BIG problem. In fact, identity theft hit a record high in 2016, striking more than 15.4 million people.

Thieves and scammers are constantly developing new techniques for gaining access to your money and personal information. Here are a few of the most common types of fraud.

Over the Phone

The attack: Telemarketing Fraud

  • What it is: Telemarketing fraud happens when you are basically asked to act now or send money straight away in order to be able to access some sort of special offer. This information will be given to you over the telephone and the telemarketers can be very convincing. If you have been cheated over the telephone, it is very difficult to get your money back. Every year, approximately $40 billion is lost to telemarketing fraud, according to a 2001 AARP study. More than 55% of these people are over the age of 50.
  • What you can do: Make sure you check who is calling you, ask for written copies of their terms and conditions, and look the company up before you send money and receive business information.

The attack: The One-Ring Scam

  • What it is: The Federal Communications Commission is alerting consumers to reported waves of “One Ring” or “Wangiri” scam. In this scam, robocalls target specific area codes in bursts, often calling multiple times in the middle of the night. These calls are likely trying to prompt consumers to call the number back, often resulting in per minute toll charges similar to a 900 number. Recent reports indicate these calls are using the “222” country code of the West African nation of Mauritania.
  • What you can do: Do not call back numbers you do not recognize, especially those appearing to originate overseas, and file a complaint with the FCC if you received these calls at

If you never make international calls, consider talking to your phone company about blocking outbound international calls to prevent accidental toll calls.

Check your phone bill often for charges you don’t recognize.


Similar to phone techniques, thieves will send fakes e-mails that appear to be from legitimate businesses or agencies. Some concentrate their efforts on hacking or spreading malware, using technology to accomplish their theft.
Beware any communication that requests money or personal information. Legitimate businesses will not contact you online for issues unless you’ve pre-arranged it, and they will never ask for login information.

Types of Fraud

The Attack: Phishing

  • What it is: The use of fake e-mails or text messages that appear to come from legitimate sources.
  • What you can do: Don’t respond. A legitimate company will never ask for personal information or financial information over e-mail. If you haven’t initiated the communication, contact the company or institution yourself to verify, especially if the communication asks for data or money. Kirtland FCU will NEVER contact you via e-mail asking for personal information.

The Attack: Pharming

  • What it is: Directs users to a spoofed website where personal information is captured (such as log-in information).
  • What you can do: Check the URL of any website before entering any information. Better yet, type the URL of the site yourself and navigate to what you need, rather than clicking a link.

The Attack: Malware

  • What it is: This is a computer attack that installs software on your computer when you click an infected link. The software, called malware or spyware, is designed to steal and transmit personal information.
  • What you can do: Don’t click any link if you’re not 100% sure of the destination. Also, make sure your computer security programs and firewalls are up to date and operational.

The Attack: Data Breach

  • What it is: More and more common, data breaches are security incidents in which sensitive, protected, or confidential data is copied, transmitted, viewed, stolen, or used by an unauthorized party.
  • What you can do: Monitor your credit cards and checking accounts frequently for any unauthorized transactions or unusual activity. If you find any, alert your card company or Kirtland FCU so we may take steps to protect your accounts. We may reissue cards in the event of a data breach to stop any theft before it occurs.

The Attack: Crowdfunding Scams

  • What it is: Crowdfunding is an online effort to raise money for a cause or project. But the project you’re backing is only as good as the people behind it. Some dishonest people can take your money but produce nothing–no product, no project, and no reward. People called “creators” ask for small amounts of money from lots of people to fund projects through websites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, or the creator will create a charity story for use on or similar sites. In exchange, creators offer rewards to contributors like a product that the creators are trying to make. Or the creator will claim to pass the profits on to the beneficiary. Sounds great—unless the creators don’t create anything but profit for themselves.
  • What you can do: If you’re thinking about contributing to a crowdfunding campaign, take a minute to research the creator’s background and reviews before you pay. For example, has the creator engaged in previous campaigns? How did those campaigns turn out?

In Person

Types of Fraud

The Attack: Skimming

  • What it is: The theft of credit or debit card information typically completed using a device that reads the magnetic strip.
  • What you can do: This point-of-sale version of identity theft is common at gas stations, ATMs, and other business with card readers that are not physically monitored. If you feel unusual movement or your card is difficult to swipe, abort your transaction and notify the vendor and your credit card company.

The Attack: Mail Fraud

  • What it is: The definition of mail fraud is simple: it’s any fraudulent activity that involves the use of postage mail. This could mean sending a letter to try and scam money or personal information from someone, stealing and opening someone else’s mail, or using chain letters to collect money or items. If mail is used at any point in the fraud process, it’s considered mail fraud.
  • What you can do: The best way to guard against mail fraud is to make sure a letter is legitimate before responding to it. If there’s a phone number printed on what looks like a piece of official communication, verify it’s actually the phone number of the company involved and not a fake one.
    • A good rule of thumb when mailing a letter that includes personal information such as your bank account number or Social Security number is to take it directly to the post office so it can’t be stolen out of your mailbox.
    • Make sure you don’t leave mail out in your mailbox for too long! If you know you’ll be away for a while, consider temporarily stopping your mail service or asking a neighbor to get it for you until you’re back in town.

The Attack: Dumpster Diving

  • What it is: Obtaining personal information by digging through trash for statements, receipts, or other personal or financial information.
  • What you can do: Shred! Make sure all documents containing your personal information or financial data are shredded prior to disposal. You can also sign up for e-Statement through Online Banking and eliminate the possibility of this form of identity theft.

The Attack: Address Change/Mail Forwarded

  • What it is: Unauthorized forwarding of your mail to an identity thief.
  • What you can do: If you don’t receive a monthly statement that you normally would, contact the company immediately to inform them. You can also go paperless with many vendors, eliminating the opportunity for thieves to redirect your mail.

The Attack: Tax Fraud

  • What it is: Also known as stolen refund fraud, it occurs when someone else receives your refund by stealing your Social Security number and filing your taxes themselves. By the time you send in your real return, it’s rejected by the IRS because you’ve “already filed.” It sounds crazy, but this kind of identity theft happens more often than you’d think—actually, it’s one of the top scams the IRS encounters each year.
  • What you can do: Be vigilant about who and where you give your personal information. Play it safe by using security software on your computer. And don’t ever carry around your Social Security card or anything with your Social Security number on it—including your W-2! Keep it all in a safe place.

Though the overall number of victims hit an all-time high in 2016, the amount of loss per victim actually decreased, thanks to higher awareness and faster action on the part of the victim and their financial institution.

No matter the method, early detection is key. Three credit bureaus monitor your activity, and you have access to credit reports from each of them at

Don't Be a Victim!

You need to know about credit union impersonation scams so you can avoid becoming a victim of these nefarious tactics.

Online and Mobile Banking will be unavailable on Thursday, May 9 from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. Friday, May 10.