Your financial security is Athol Credit Union’s top priority.
At ACU, we take your financial security seriously. We invest in technologies that help to keep your accounts safe, and we stay up-to-date on the latest scams making the rounds so we can let you know how to protect yourself. If you feel that your ACU accounts have been compromised, please contact us immediately at (978) 249-3527, or toll-free at (866) 305-9888.
Preventing Identity Theft
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information for the purpose of committing fraud. Your information can be compromised in any number of ways, including falling victim to a scam. Those who commit identity theft can use your information to apply for credit or steal your money.
Common Warning Signs of Identity Theft
- Bills for items you didn’t buy
- Debt collection calls for accounts you didn’t open
- A sudden, unexpected drop in your credit score
- Denials for loan applications
How to Prevent Identity Theft
- Protect your personal information – Don’t give out your social security number, bank account information, passwords, or PIN numbers to unverified sources.
- Be wary of unsolicited phone calls asking for information – Most financial institutions, including Athol Credit Union, will never call you asking for account information. If someone calls asking for your account number, passwords, or PIN, it is likely a scam. Hang up, and call the financial institution back using their official number to verify that they requested the information.
- Check your credit report – You are entitled to a free credit report once a year from Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. Check all three to make sure any accounts that appear on the report are yours. If you notice an error, report it immediately.
- Shred credit-related documents – All those credit card solicitations you receive in the mail? Shred them – they can be used to open accounts in your name. Also check your mail daily to prevent identity thieves from stealing your mail directly.
For more information on identity theft, please visit:
Check Your Credit Report
You are entitled to a free annual credit report from Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian, the three major credit reporting agency in the United States. Each report will feature a full run-down of your open and closed credit accounts. When you receive each report, check it thoroughly to make sure all of the information is correct. If you find an error, report it immediately to the reporting agency.
You have three options for obtaining your credit report:
- Visit www.annualcreditreport.com
- Call 1-877-322-8228
- Complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form on the US Federal Trade Commission website and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA, 30348-5281
Phone scams: There are many different types of phone scams out there, but they all follow a similar pattern – you receive an unsolicited call where someone ends up asking for your personal information. They can range from calls announcing that you have won a prize, someone pretending to be a representative of a financial institution, or, in one clever case, a friend who needs bail money. Don’t fall for it, even if the person on the phone pressures you. Legitimate businesses and government agencies will never pressure you to provide information immediately. If you think the call could be real, hang up and call back the financial institution at a legitimate number to double check.
Phishing: If you have email, chances are you have already seen examples of Phishing in your inbox. One of the most common email scams includes someone asking for your help wiring large sums of money from one country to another – in exchange, you will receive a percentage of the money. A good rule of thumb is to never click on links from unfamiliar email sources.
Texting Scams: With the advent of new technologies, scammers find new ways to try to steal your identity. Within the past few years there has been an increase in texting scams (or “smishing”). Much like phone scams, someone will text you asking you for personal information, asking that you click on a link, or requesting that you call a number for further instructions. Don’t do it. Legitimate businesses and government agencies will never use text messages to gather information. Instead, contact the financial institution or agency directly to ask if the text message is legitimate.
How to Report Identity Theft
If you believe you have been a victim of identity theft:
- Contact the financial institutions involved – They will be able to help you with individual accounts that have been compromised.
- Contact the Credit Reporting Agencies – The credit reporting agencies – Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian – will be able to help you determine if you need to place a fraud alert on your credit file. This will let anyone pulling a credit report using your information know that there is a potential for fraud.
- Create a Report with the FTC – Visit www.ftc.gov/complaint and create an FTC Identity Theft Affidavit.
- File a Police Report – Once you have your FTC affidavit complete, print a copy and take it with you to file a police report with your local officials. Remember to get a copy of the police report and report number for your files.