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Security Bulletin

Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information and uses it to establish credit, borrow money, charge items or even commit crimes in your name. Thousands of Americans are at risk every year of having their identities stolen and the incidence of Internet identity theft is growing.

Athol Credit Union realizes that, unfortunately, there are many unscrupulous people who try to use fraudulent means to obtain your personal information. Please be aware that Athol Credit Union will NEVER ask you to verify your personal or account information via unsolicited e-mail or telephone call.

We have provided you with some links to sources of information about recent internet and e-mail scams, in hopes that by making you aware of these fraudulent activities, you will be better prepared to protect yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft.

Informational Links

Phishing/Identity Theft

There's a type of Internet piracy called "phishing." It's pronounced "fishing," and that's exactly what these thieves are doing: "fishing" for your personal financial information. What they want are account numbers, passwords, Social Security numbers, and other confidential information that they can use to loot your checking account or run up bills on your credit cards.

In the worst case, you could find yourself a victim of identity theft. With the sensitive information obtained from a successful phishing scam, these thieves can take out loans or obtain credit cards and even driver's licenses in your name. They can do damage to your financial history and personal reputation that can take years to unravel. But if you understand how phishing works and how to protect yourself, you can help stop this crime.

Here's how phishing works:

In a typical case, you'll receive an e-mail that appears to come from a reputable company that you recognize and do business with, such as your financial institution. In some cases, the e-mail may appear to come from a government agency, including one of the federal financial institution regulatory agencies.

The e-mail will probably warn you of a serious problem that requires your immediate attention. It may use phrases, such as "Immediate attention required," or "Please contact us immediately about your account." The e-mail will then encourage you to click on a button to go to the institution's Web site.

In a phishing scam, you could be redirected to a phony Web site that may look exactly like the real thing. Sometimes, in fact, it may be the company's actual Web site. In those cases, a pop-up window will quickly appear for the purpose of harvesting your financial information. In either case, you may be asked to update your account information or to provide information for verification purposes: your Social Security number, your account number, your password, or the information you use to verify your identity when speaking to a real financial institution, such as your mother's maiden name or your place of birth.

If you provide the requested information, you may find yourself the victim of identity theft.

How to Protect Yourself

  1. Never provide your personal information in response to an unsolicited request, whether it is over the phone or over the Internet. E-mails and Internet pages created by phishers may look exactly like the real thing. They may even have a fake padlock icon that ordinarily is used to denote a secure site. If you did not initiate the communication, you should not provide any information.
  2. If you believe the contact may be legitimate, contact the financial institution yourself. You can find phone numbers and Web sites on the monthly statements you receive from your financial institution, or you can look the company up in a phone book or on the Internet. The key is that you should be the one to initiate the contact, using contact information that you have verified yourself.
  3. Never provide your password over the phone or in response to an unsolicited Internet request. A financial institution would never ask you to verify your account information online. Thieves armed with this information and your account number can help themselves to your savings.
  4. Review account statements regularly to ensure all charges are correct. If your account statement is late in arriving, call your financial institution to find out why. If your financial institution offers electronic account access, periodically review activity online to catch suspicious activity.

You Can Fight Identity Theft - Here's How

Report suspicious e-mails or calls to the Federal Trade Commission through the Internet at, or by calling 1-877-IDTHEFT.

What to do if you fall victim

Contact your financial institution immediately and alert it to the situation. If you have disclosed sensitive information in a phishing attack, you should also contact one of the three major credit bureaus and discuss whether you need to place a fraud alert on your file, which will help prevent thieves from opening a new account in your name. Here is the contact information for each bureau's fraud division:

P.O. Box 740250
Atlanta, GA 30374

P.O. Box 1017
Allen, TX 75013

P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92634

Report all suspicious contacts to the Federal Trade Commission through the Internet at, or by calling 1-877-IDTHEFT.

A message from the federal bank, thrift and credit union regulatory agencies
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
National Credit Union Administration
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
Office of Thrift Supervision

Recent Telephone Scam Information

Members of financial institutions are sometimes targets of fraudulent automated telephone calls or text messages asking them to provide sensitive financial information such as a full debit or credit card number, and ATM PIN, bank account numbers, etc. While these calls may appear to be a genuine message from the member’s financial institution, they are actually being sent from a fraudulent source.

How this affects you

You should be very careful when and how you share sensitive information over the phone if you suspect that the call may be fraudulent. Please be aware of the following:

Remember that if Athol Credit Union calls you, we will never ask you to provide your full credit, debit, or ATM card number, your card PIN, the security code on the back of your card, or your online banking login credentials.

Any concerns that you have about a phone call or text message that appears to come from Athol Credit Union, but that you believe was sent by an imposter, should be reported to 978-249-3527 or at the branch.

If you feel that you may have given sensitive information to an imposter posing as Athol Credit Union you should call us immediately at 978-249-3527 or go to the branch so that we can protect your account from fraudulent access.

For more information on this and other scams, visit the Internet Crime Compliant Center at or learn more about the increase in vishing attacks at

Vishing and SMShing Overview

Vishing is like Phishing with a "V" for Voice. Criminals call victims and fake the caller ID information of a legitimate number or send text messages requesting that the recipients call a fraudulent telephone number and provide personal and account information. The call appears to go to the legitimate company's call center or customer service area, but it is actually directed to imposters posing as the company.

SMShing is a form of phishing that uses mobile phone text messages, also known as Short Message Service (SMS), to lure victims into calling back a fraudulent phone number, visiting fraudulent Websites or downloading malicious content via phone or Web.

Debit Card Security

If you have recently received a telephone call on either your home phone or cell phone which was an automated message alerting you that your debit card has been compromised - this call was not from Athol Credit Union. This is a widespread scam, and consumers have been tricked into entering their debit card number and expiration date into the phone's keypad.

We will never generate a telephone call to you and then ask you to disclose your financial or personal information. If you feel you have been a victim of this scam, please contact Athol Credit Union immediately at 978-249-3527 or toll free at 866-305-9888 so that we may order a new debit card for you.