Fraud Protection Tips: Protecting Your Identity & Online Security
Report Fraud Now (Last Updated: January 11, 2013)
Recently there have been a number of news stories and reports regarding fraudulent emails, identity theft and “phishing” scams (fraudulent but official looking e-mails and websites used to gather personal information and passwords). Liberty Mutual Insurance takes your privacy and online security very seriously and we will never email you a request for your personal passwords, personal information numbers (“PIN”) or login information. We do occasionally send our customers information and updates about our insurance products, however, if you receive any suspicious e-mails or phone calls which request your personal information and claim to be from Liberty Mutual, you should review them carefully and if you are unsure of their authenticity, you should contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) recently issued three simple recommendations that Internet users can follow when they see emails or websites that may be part of a phishing scheme: Stop, Look, and Call. The DOJ’s recommendations are listed below and a full report of the DOJ’s “Special Report of Phishing” can be found at: www.usdoj.gov/criminal/fraud/Phishing.pdf.
1. Stop. Phishers typically include upsetting or exciting (but false) statements in their e-mails with one purpose in mind. They want people to react immediately to that false information, by clicking on the link and inputting the requested data before they take time to think through what they are doing. Internet users, however, need to resist that impulse to click immediately. No matter how upsetting or exciting the statements in the email may be, there is always enough time to check out the information more closely.
2. Look. Internet users should look more closely at the claims made in the e-mail, think about whether those claims make sense, and be highly suspicious if the e-mail asks for numerous items of their personal information such as account numbers, usernames, or passwords. For example:
- If the e-mail indicates that it comes from a bank or other financial institution where you have a bank or credit-card account, but tells you that you have to enter your account information again, that makes no sense. Legitimate banks and financial institutions already have their customers' account numbers in their records. Even if the e-mail says a customer's account is being terminated, the real bank or financial institution will still have that customer's account number and identifying information.
- If the e-mail says that you have won a prize or are entitled to receive some special “deal,” but asks for financial or personal data, there is good reason to be highly suspicious. Legitimate companies that want to give you a real prize don’t ask you for extensive amounts of personal and financial information before you're entitled to receive it.
3. Call. If the e-mail or website purports to be from a legitimate company or financial institution, Internet users should call or e-mail that company directly and ask whether the e-mail or website is really from that company. To be sure that they are contacting the real company or institution where they have accounts, credit-card account holders can call the toll-free customer numbers on the backs of their cards, and bank customers can call the telephone numbers on their bank statements.
Preventing Online Identity Theft
Here are some additional tips and resources that Liberty Mutual recommends to help prevent becoming a victim of online identity theft.
Take these important steps today to protect your name, credit and reputation:
REVIEW YOUR CREDIT REPORT from each of the three credit agencies listed below twice a year. See if there are accounts or addresses you don’t recognize. Is your social security number correct? Have there been more credit inquiries than normal? Any of these may be early signs of identity theft. If you find something suspicious on your credit report, call the agency’s fraud hotline immediately. You also may want to add a consumer fraud alert, which asks creditors to telephone you each time a new account is opened in your name.
- LIMIT THE USE OF YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER. Provide your social security number only when necessary and never provide it in response to an unsolicited email. Don’t carry the card in your wallet and never print it on your checks.
- SHRED UNNEEDED IMPORTANT PAPERS—especially credit card solicitations—with a crosscut shredder. Some identity thieves try to piece cut papers back together.
- DON’T USE YOUR MOTHER’S MAIDEN NAME as a password on personal accounts; it’s too easy to learn. Change it to another word with the creditors. When creating a password, include letters, numbers and symbols (for example: E$G%2Q) since they are more difficult for identity thieves to guess.
- DON’T GIVE OUT FINANCIAL INFORMATION ONLINE OR ON THE PHONE – unless you initiated the contact and you know the party you are dealing with.
- PROTECT YOUR ONLINE LOG-INS AND PASSWORDS – Don’t share your passwords or login names and avoid leaving or writing them down near or around your computer. Protect them as you do your ATM and credit card numbers.
- LEARN MORE ABOUT IDENTITY THEFT AND HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF BY VISITING:
- DON’T BE A VICTIM… If you suspect identity theft or online fraud, report it to your local police, the three credit agencies listed below and the Federal Trade Commission.