Protect Your Information When Using HELOCs

According to the Wyoming Criminal Intelligence Analysis Center, and the Mountain West Credit Union Association, HELOC scams are becoming more prevalent in the region.  HELOC scams have been a matter of concern for years, particularly beginning in 2011 when a cyber-scam artist stole an estimated $44 million in less than three years.  Learn how these scams occur to better protect yourself against fraud.

How it works

Criminals pose as customers.  They may get a hold of your personal information through public records.  They manipulate the customer account verification process in order to get funds.  This manipulation occurs by rerouting phone calls, forging signatures and figuring out passwords or using your stolen account history.

Protect yourself

  1. Check your HELOC statements regularly.
  2. Watch for any wire activity on your regular banking accounts as well.
  3. Regularly review and examine your credit reports for any inaccurate information.
  4. Complicate your passwords.  Don't us a word or number easy to guess, such as your significant other's name or birthday.  Change them frequently.
  5. Protect your mail and be cautious of any changes.
  6. Keep your sensitive documents in a safe place.  Shred or destroy documents when you dispose of them.
  7. Consider using a Credit Security Freeze.  A credit freeze locks the data at the consumer reporting agency until a person gives permission to release the data.

If you notice suspicious activity, you should alert your financial institution and your local law enforcement immediately.

Avoid Phishing Scams

Phishing scams are scams in which a criminal tries to collect your personal information by posing as a trustworthy entity. These scams occur most often using electronic resources.

Financial institutions will never ask for your personal information over the phone or via email.  Never share your personal information on a suspicious site.  If you encounter a suspicious site or email, call your financial institution using a known phone number, or the phone number provided on the back of your debit/credit cards.

Create Strong Passwords

Creating a strong password is your first line of defense against online scams.  Never use information that is relevant to you for your password including name, birthday, pet names, addresses, etc.  Always make your passwords lengthy and complex, yet easy to remember by using alphanumeric combinations and special characters.

 

HELOC Scam information gathered from the Wyoming Criminal Intelligence Analysis Center and the Mountain West Credit Union Association.

 

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