Help for Victims of Identity Theft
If you need advice after your identity has been stolen, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) provides a toolkit with a list of steps on how to proceed. Click here to view this document.
How to Stay Safe When Shopping Online
Want to avoid long lines and large crowds this holiday season? Shopping online lets you zip through your list with just a few clicks.
Before whipping out your plastic, however, you'll want to make sure you're shopping on a secure site. Use these tips to keep your data safe.
1. Look for the padlock symbol
Don't check out at a website unless you see a padlock symbol on the browser bar of whatever device you're using. This symbol means that the page has extra security to prevent others from viewing your sensitive information.
Another way to tell a website is secure is that it starts with "https" instead of just "http." The "s" means the site is secure.
2. Be cautious around public Wi-Fi
If you need to check your online banking account while you're away from home, avoid public Wi-Fi networks. Many retailers provide free Wi-Fi as a convenience to customers, but you can't be sure who's able to see the data you send on the network — including private information.
Instead, consider using a virtual private network, or VPN, a service that lets you encrypt the information you send over the internet. That way, others won't be able to access your data even if they can access the network. You can also send data over your personal cellular provider's network, which bypasses Wi-Fi.
3. Use a credit card instead of a debit card
Credit cards offer better consumer protections than debit cards do. If someone steals your credit card information and uses it to make unauthorized purchases, you'll be liable for $50 at most, depending on how quickly you report the loss. If your debit card information is stolen, you could lose all the money linked to your checking account.
If you're unhappy with an item you bought on a credit card — say it was damaged when you received it or it was never delivered — you don't have to pay until the dispute is resolved. But if you're unhappy with a debit card purchase, you'll need to file a dispute with the retailer and possibly your bank to try to recover the money after the fact. That's because debit card purchases automatically withdraw funds from your bank account.
4. Change passwords regularly
Even if you take steps to shop securely, a hacker could steal your user name, password or other sensitive information from a retailer's database. Protect yourself by changing the passwords of your online accounts every three months or so. That way, if hackers do breach a retailer's software, there's a good chance they'll have access only to an old password.
5. Update anti-virus software
If you shop from a home computer, keep your security software updated. Anti-virus software companies frequently release security updates to address newly discovered security loopholes.
Follow these tips and you can take advantage of the convenience of online shopping while also protecting yourself from online fraud.
© Copyright 2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Following the devastating floods that have occurred in our area, EFCU Financial has compiled a list of area resources to help you and your family recover and rebuild.
- www.disasterassistance.gov (Federal Assistance)
- gov.louisiana.gov/page/resources-for-flood-victims (State Government Resources)
- www.opportunitylouisiana.com/flood-recovery-assistance (Business Resources)
- www.gutcheckLA.com (Residential demo/clean-up/debris removal assistance)
- www.habitatbr.org (Residential demo/clean-up/debris removal assistance)
- www.ob.org (Residential demo/clean-up/debris removal assistance)
- www.dcfs.louisiana.gov (Food Stamp Assistance – DSNAP)
- www.irs.gov/uac/tax-relief-for-victims-of-severe-storms-flooding-in-louisiana (Federal Tax Assistance)
- www.volunteerlouisiana.gov (Volunteer Opportunities)
Best Practices to Prevent Fraud
Due to the ever-growing threat of electronic fraud, we created this Resources page to inform you of the threats as they exist, and also that there is no circumstance in which the credit union would require you submit your private information electronically or via telephone. We pride ourselves on maintaining a highly secure and personal relationship with each of our members.
Tips to protect you and your personal information:
- Always be familiar with financial accounts that you currently maintain. Monitor your account activity weekly, if not daily, through one of these tools to make sure all transactions are legitimate:
- EFCU Financial's Online Banking (See the orange login box to the right)
- EFCU Financial's Smartphone App
- Telephone Banking (214-6852)
- Text or email alerts (Set up thorough Online Banking)
- Reconcile statements and other information sent by financial institutions for accuracy.
- Check your credit report on a regular basis to ensure the information is correct. Use ANNUALCreditReport.com for a free report from each agency.
- Immediately tear up (using a shredder is even better!) unsolicited credit card offers.
- Never give a credit card number over the phone unless you have initiated the phone call. Never send your credit card or account number via text or email.
Best Mobile Banking Practices
- Password protect your mobile device and/or mobile banking application
- Download signed applications only from trusted sources
- For mobile devices using the Android operating system, do not enable Android's "install from unknown sources" feature
- Never store your usernames and passwords on your device
- Keep your mobile device with you or secure the device when you're not using it
- Frequently delete text messages received from EFCU Financial
- Notify EFCU Financial and your wireless carrier immediately if your mobile device is lost or stolen so that it can be deactivated
- Do not modify your mobile device as it may disable important security features
- Install antivirus software
- Check your EFCU Financial account frequently and notify the credit union of any unauthorized transactions
- Do not respond to text messages requesting personal information, such as Social Security numbers, credit/debit/ATM card numbers, and account numbers
- Adopt the same safe practices you use when using your personal computer, including not opening attachments or clicking on links contained in email received from unfamiliar sources
If you have questions or think you may be a victim of fraud, please contact our Call Center at (225) 214-6800 right away. The security of your accounts is very important to us, and we will do everything necessary to work with you to keep your accounts safe.
Check out these sources for the latest on preventing Fraud & Identity Theft:
- EFCU Financial Newsletters
Review your credit report regularly to prevent fraud and maintain a high credit score. You can order a free copy of your credit report by:
- Calling 877-322-8228
- Going online to AnnualCreditReport.com or
- Mailing a standardized form to:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P O Box 05281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
Below you will find contact info for the 3 major Credit Bureaus in the event you need to dispute information listed on your credit report:
PO Box 2002
Allen, TX 75013
PO Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
PO Box 1000
Chester, PA 19022
During hurricane season, coastal residents often bolster storm doors and windows, and stock up on flashlights, batteries and water. But homeowners should also prepare for the impact a storm could have on their wallets. Here’s a primer on insurance deductibles for windstorm damage and why home-equity financing could help you meet yours.
Breaking down deductibles
From 1994 to 2013, tropical storms and hurricanes caused $159.1 billion in insured losses in the U.S. In response to major losses, such as those caused by Hurricane Andrew and Hurricane Katrina, many insurers have introduced hurricane and tropical storm deductibles. A deductible is what a policyholder must pay for a loss before the insurer steps in. Peril-specific deductibles make policyholders in some coastal states shoulder more risk and hold down premiums for other homeowners.
In states such as Louisiana, a storm that’s given a name by the National Hurricane Center can trigger a deductible that reflects a percentage of your home’s value — often as much as 5% — rather than the flat figure deductible associated with fire or theft. That percentage may not seem like much, but it would cost you $10,000 for the total loss of a $200,000 home. Most people can’t afford to foot such a big bill without warning.
Bolstering your wallet
Obtaining a home equity line of credit, or HELOC, is one way to prepare for a hurricane deductible. Available at lenders such as EFCU Financial, a HELOC lets you use the equity built up in your residence — that is, the difference between the property’s current market value and the balance you owe on your mortgage.
A HELOC is similar to a revolving charge account, such as a credit card. You can borrow up to the amount of your loan over a set period of time, and you pay interest only on what you borrow. Interest rates on HELOCs are typically lower than those for other forms of credit, and interest payments are often tax deductible. However, because the loan is secured by your home, you risk foreclosure if you fail to make payments.
If your home is significantly damaged by a tropical storm or hurricane, you may be able to pay your deductible with a HELOC, rather than dipping in to your savings or using your credit card. But make sure that the HELOC can’t be rescinded if your home’s market value drops because of storm damage.
During hurricane season, homeowners along the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic seaboard could be exposed to the potentially devastating effects of these storms. Prepare for whatever blows nature might deliver to your wallet.
Cait Klein, NerdWallet
© Copyright 2015 NerdWallet Inc. All Rights Reserved