Consumer Safety Tips


Computer Security

Maintaining your computer with the latest updates is one of the most effective security precautions that you can take. As vulnerabilities in software are discovered, the software companies release updates, or patches, to address these issues. Many of these programs can be configured to automatically check for updates over the Internet.

Microsoft releases updates for their Windows operating systems and their MS-Office suite on a weekly basis. It is highly recommended that your home PC is maintained with these updates on a regular basis. Your home PC should also have an anti-virus program installed. This program requires daily or weekly updates to be effective. Adobe has recently released several updates to their products.

Counterfeit Check Scams

If you receive a cashier's check in the mail with a letter that says you've won a lottery or a sweepstakes or that you've been selected to participate in a secret shopper program, chances are the check is counterfeit. If you receive a check in the mail because you've sold something on the internet or signed up to work from home, and the check includes an overpayment that you are supposed to return, chances are the check is counterfeit. Perpetrators of counterfeit check scams want victims to send them money from the bad checks before they are recognized as fraudulent, and they're often hoping to get additional personal information to use in their next scam, too.

Some of the checks look very real and include the names and addresses of legitimate financial institutions. In addition to cashier's checks, counterfeits can be other types of checks--official checks, money orders, business checks or personal checks. If you receive a check from an unknown source, you can contact the financial institution it's drawn on to help you verify it using information you find from a public source such as the institution's website or the phone book--never rely on the contact number on the check or any letter that accompanied it.

Legitimate California Coast Credit Union's cashier's checks will never be used to fund secret shopper, sweepstakes or other similar transactions where you are asked to send money to claim income or winnings. If you are ever in doubt of the validity of a California Coast Credit Union cashier's check you receive, please contact us immediately at (877) 495-1600.

Here are some other tips that will help you avoid becoming the victim of a counterfeit check scam:

  • Throw away any offer that asks you to pay for a prize or a gift.
  • Know whom you're dealing with, and never wire money to strangers.
  • If you're selling something, don't accept a check for more than the selling price, no matter how tempting the offer or how convincing the story. Ask the buyer to write the check for the correct amount. If the buyer refuses to send the correct amount, return the check, and don't send the merchandise.
  • Resist pressure to act immediately. Any legitimate offer should still be good after the check clears.
  • It's best not to rely on money from any type of check unless you know and trust the person you're dealing with or, better yet - until your financial institution confirms that the check has cleared. Forgeries can take weeks to be returned through the banking system, and until you have confirmation that the funds from a check have been deposited into your account, you are responsible for any funds you withdraw against that check, whether or not the financial institution places a hold.
  • Resist the urge to enter foreign lotteries. It's illegal to play a foreign lottery through the mail or the telephone, and most foreign lottery solicitations are scams. And if you are notified that you won a lottery, but don't remember entering it, the reason is because you didn't enter.

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Phishing Scam Notice

Beware of phishing attempts over the phone, by a text message and by email. The trend is on the rise, so beware. Phishing is a scam that involves Internet criminals who try to trick people into giving up personal information (such as credit card numbers, PINs, financial accounts or other sensitive information).

California Coast Credit Union will never send you an email or text message requesting account verification or personal information. Nor will you ever receive emails from credit union networks or associations like CO-OP, CUNA, NAFCU, CU Service Centers or NCUA requesting that you confirm your accounts, give them your personal information or take an online survey. If you are ever in doubt of the validity of a phone call requesting personal account information, please contact California Coast Credit Union immediately.

If you have received or responded to such a phone call, text message or email where you provided any personal information, please notify California Coast Credit Union immediately to authenticate the validity of the call or email. If you are asked to call a phone number regarding your account that seems suspicious, please call (877) 495-1600 to notify the credit union.

The criminals who phish (pronounced "fish") get more creative all the time! It's important to be aware of the common traits of phishing attempts so you'll recognize them as they evolve. Here are a few to consider.

They tend to involve requests using the name of business or a person who would be trusted.

They tend to use a scenario that is intriguing and create a sense of urgency to respond (i.e. will be asked to help solve a crime or win a prize).

They often involve consequences like losing access to your financial account, your eBay account or getting arrested because you failed to show up for jury duty - consequences that make you act quickly and spend little time thinking about the request.

Many phishing attempts have misspellings and grammatical errors, but many look and sound professional, and may even illegally use a company's logo.

Phishing emails are designed to load malicious software on your computer to gather information or just to do damage. The best ways to avoid compromising your computer's security via this type of email are to ensure that you keep updated anti-virus software on your computer and avoid opening emails unless you know the sender and have confidence in their ability to maintain the security of their systems. Be careful of emails with attachments in particular.

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Vishing

Vishing is the criminal practice of using social engineering (using the phone) and/or Voice IP (calling through a computer) to gain access to private personal and financial information for the purpose of committing fraud.

The fraudsters portray themselves as calling from the Security and Fraud Department at VISA or MasterCard. The fraudster states: "I am calling from the Security and Fraud Department at VISA/MasterCard. My badge number is 12345. Your card has been flagged for an unusual purchase pattern, and I'm calling to verify your transactions. This would be on your VISA/ MasterCard issued by (name of financial institution). Did you purchase an Anti-Telemarketing Device for $497.99 from a marketing company based in Arizona?"

When the cardholder indicates that no such purchase was made, the fraudster states that he/she will issue a credit to the cardholder's account, and verifies the cardholder address by giving the address to the cardholder. The fraudster goes so far as to give the cardholder a case number to refer back to when calling VISA/MasterCard. However, at the end of the call, the fraudster indicates he/she needs to verify the cardholder is in possession of their card and asks for the security code on the back. Within minutes, charges start to appear from a marketing firm in Arizona.

These calls closely resemble legitimate calls made in true fraud detection efforts; however, California Coast would never ask for the security code on the back of the card.

If you ever have a question about a call like this, do not give them information. Instead, please call California Coast or the financial institution that issued the card.

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Safety Tips - Checking

Store your checks, deposit slips and credit union statements in a secure and locked location. Never leave your checkbook in your vehicle.

Reconcile your account statement upon receipt in order to detect any irregularities, and notify the credit union promptly.

Never give your account number to individuals you do not know, especially over the telephone, through email or on the Internet. Be particularly aware of unsolicited phone sales. Fraud artists can use your account without your authorization and you could be held responsible. Never give your personal identification number (PIN) to anyone, not even your financial institution.

When you receive your check order, ensure all checks are present and that none are missing. Report missing checks to the credit union immediately. Should you fail to receive your order by mail, notify the credit union immediately. Checks could have been stolen or lost in transit.

If your home is burglarized, check your supply of checks to determine if any have been stolen. Look closely, because thieves will sometimes take only one or two checks from the middle or back of the checkbook. The longer it takes to detect whether any of your checks have been stolen, the more time the criminal has to use them successfully.

Do not mail bills from your mailbox. It is a favorite location from which criminals can gain possession of your checks. The Post Office is the best location to mail your bill payments.

Limit the amount of personal information on your checks. For example, do not include your social security number or drivers license number. A criminal can use this type of information to successfully steal your identity.

Do not leave blank spaces on the payee and amount lines.

Use dark ink that cannot be easily erased or covered over. Based on recent studies, the ink found in gel pens, has been the only kind found to be counterfeit proof.

Most check manufacturers have enhanced check stock to combat counterfeiting and check washing. This is why you should always purchase your supply of checks from the credit union or from a reputable company.

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Safety Tips - ATM

Memorize your (PIN). Do not write the number on your card or in your wallet.

Do not lend your card or reveal your (PIN) to anyone (even to the credit union or to other vendors that you do business with).

Look for well-lit ATMs when transacting at night.

Be aware of your surroundings, particularly at night.

If you notice anything suspicious when approaching an ATM, return later or use another ATM. Consider having another person accompany you to the ATM.

Have your ATM card ready to avoid searching through your purse/wallet at the ATM site.

Stand close to the ATM and block it with your hand to avoid detection of your (PIN) and other account information.

When using drive-up ATMs, ensure doors are locked and keep the engine running.

Put your cash away as soon as the transaction is complete. Count the cash later in the safety of your vehicle or home.

If you notice anything suspicious while you are transacting business, immediately cancel your transaction, put your ATM card away and leave.

Never give information to strangers at the ATM, over the phone or on the Internet. Be aware of individuals who pose as credit union staff trying to get information from you.

The credit union strives to ensure ATM facilities are safe and convenient. Please tell us if you are aware of any problems with a California Coast Credit Union ATM. For instance, let us know if a light is not working or there is any damage to an ATM facility.

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Safety Tips - Gold Debit MasterCard

Activate your card(s) immediately upon receipt by calling the phone number indicated on your card. Should you fail to receive your card(s) by mail within 10 business days, notify the credit union immediately. The card(s) may have been stolen from your mailbox or lost in transit.

To avoid fraud if your card is lost or stolen and to enable merchants to verify your signatures on sales drafts, you must sign the signature panel on the backside of your card immediately upon receipt. Do not write "See ID" on the signature panel, as it is important to have your signature on the card for proper signature validation.

Once a transaction is authorized by a merchant, the authorization amount will be held against your checking account available balance until the transaction is deducted from your account. Authorized transactions are usually withdrawn from your checking account within three (3) business days. In some instances, authorizations may be held for an amount greater than the transaction amount, for example hotel charges or car rentals. It is recommended that you use your California Coast Platinum Visa or Platinum Rewards Visa credit card for these types of transactions.

Store your card(s) in a secure and locked location if you do not use them on a regular basis. Do not leave your cards in your vehicle.

Retain copies of all sales drafts, merchant and ATM receipts until you receive your monthly statement, at which time you should verify that the transactions/charges are accurate and the amount is correct. If you discover any errors, unauthorized transactions, payments or alterations, notify the credit union immediately.

MasterCard® Secure Code Fraud Protection:

Wherever you travel worldwide, you can always count on MasterCard Global Service™ for any card-related need. Call us 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and we'll connect you with a representative who speaks your language, and can help with:

  • Lost or stolen cards
  • Emergency replacement cards
  • Emergency cash advances
  • Locate an ATM that accepts the MasterCard®, Maestro®, and Cirrus® brands
  • Access account-related information
  • Access any applicable card benefits

In the United States:
For an emergency within the United States
call 1-800-MasterCard at 1.800.627.8372

Outside the United States:
For countries not listed in our directory, you can call the following telephone number collect to the United States in the event of an emergency 1.636.722.7111

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Safety Tips - Platinum VISA® and Platinum Rewards VISA® Credit Card

Activate your card(s) immediately upon receipt by calling the phone number indicated on your card. Should you fail to receive your card(s) by mail within 10 business days, notify the credit union immediately. The card(s) mail have been stolen from your mailbox or lost in transit.

To avoid fraud if the card is lost or stolen, and to allow merchants to verify your signature on sales drafts, you must sign the signature panel on the back of your Platinum VISA or Platinum Rewards VISA credit card immediately. Do not write, "See ID" on the signature panel, as it is important to have your signature on the card for proper signature validation.

Store your card(s) in a secure and locked location if you do not use them on a regular basis. Do not leave the cards in your vehicle.

Retain copies of all sales drafts, merchant and ATM receipts until you receive your monthly statement, at which time you should verify that the transactions/charges are accurate and the amounts are correct. If you discover any errors, unauthorized transactions or payments or alterations, notify the credit union immediately.

To Report LOSS or THEFT:
call (877) 495-1600

In the United States:
For an emergency within the United States
call 800.VISA.911 (800.847.2911)

Outside the United States:
For emergency assistance outside of the United States
call collect: 410.581.9994

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