Fraud Protection Center

Protect Yourself from Identity Theft
The rate of identity theft-related fraud has risen sharply since 2003. Studies show that from mid-2005 until mid-2006, about 15 million Americans were victims of fraud that stemmed from identity theft, an increase of more than 50 percent from the estimated 9.9 million in 2003.

Learn how to protect yourself from criminals who use your stolen identity to commit crimes.


Phone Scams ... Protect Your Information!
NorState Federal Credit Union will NEVER make unsolicited phone calls requesting your personal account information. If you ever receive an email or phone call purporting to be from NorState FCU, do not provide any personal information. Always log into the NorState Federal Credit Union site directly (by typing in your browser address bar) or contact one of our Member Service Representatives before divulging any information.

Protect Yourself. Don’t become identity theft’s next victim
There are simple precautions that will keep your identity safe. We've provided the following information as a courtesy to help protect you from identity fraud and other criminal activities. Review the links and information on this page to learn how to protect your personal and financial information.

If your identity has been stolen, here's what to do:
  • Contact NorState Federal Credit Union for immediate assistance.
  • Contact the fraud departments of any one of the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit file. The fraud alert requests creditors to contact you before opening any new accounts or making any changes to your existing accounts. As soon as the credit bureau confirms your fraud alert, the other two credit bureaus will be automatically notified to place fraud alerts, and all three credit reports will be sent to you at no cost.
  • Credit Bureaus: Experian, Equifax and Trans Union
  • Close the accounts that you know or believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
  • Use the FTC's ID Theft Affidavit when disputing new unauthorized accounts. (Adobe Acrobat)
  • File a police report. Get a copy of the report to submit to your creditors and others that may require proof of the crime.
  • File your complaint with the FTC. The FTC maintains a database of identity theft cases used by law enforcement agencies for investigations. Filing a complaint also helps us learn more about identity theft and the problems victims are having so that we can better assist you.
  • If you believe you have been a victim of Mail Fraud, submit a mail fraud complaint form with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
Be Smart. Protect Yourself from Identity Theft
The following information is designed to safeguard your financial information.
Credit Card Fraud Protection
Credit card fraud generally occurs when cards or card numbers are compromised. By following these simple guidelines your potential for loss can be minimized.

Tips for protecting yourself against credit card fraud

  1. Keep a list of all your credit cards including the account number and phone number to the issuing company.
  2. Review your credit card statement as soon as possible. Match charges with your receipts to ensure all charges are yours and are for the correct amount.
  3. Always sign a new credit card immediately.
  4. When making a purchase with a credit card, make sure you get the card back and the receipt. Check the receipt for accuracy.
  5. When using a credit card at a restaurant or store, make sure that all blank lines are marked through so that no one can change the final amount.
  6. Never sign blank credit card receipts.
  7. Only travel with the credit cards you plan on using.
  8. Never give the account number of the credit card over the phone unless you initiate the call.
  9. When making an order over the telephone, try to avoid using a cordless phone. Cordless phones messages can be easily intercepted by devices as unsophisticated as baby monitors and police scanners.
  10. Do not write the PIN for the account on the card.
Identity Theft Protection

Identity theft can occur when an individual obtains personal information, such as your social security number, date of birth, address, and financial account numbers. Once this information is obtained, the thieves will assume or take on your identity, allowing them to illegally purchase items or obtain credit. By following these simple guidelines, your potential for loss due to identity theft can be greatly reduced.

Tips for protecting yourself against identity theft

  1. Check your credit report on a regular basis to ensure the information is correct.
  2. Immediately tear up (using a shredder is even better!) unsolicited credit card offers.
  3. Never give personal information over the phone unless you initiated the phone call.
  4. Never give a credit card number over the phone unless you have initiated the phone call.
  5. Always be familiar with financial accounts that you currently maintain. Verify statements and other information sent by your financial institution for accuracy. 
Check Cashing Fraud Protection

This guide provides tips for protecting yourself against check cashing fraud. Check cashing fraud occurs when individuals use information taken from your checks, or the checks themselves, to access your accounts and commit fraudulent acts. By following these simple guidelines you can greatly reduce your risk of becoming a victim.

Tips for protecting yourself against check cashing fraud

  1. Always safeguard your checks. Do not leave your checks out in an open area. Never leave your checks in your car or out on your desk at the office.
  2. Keep your blank checks and canceled checks in a safe place. Put them in a vault or other secure location. Destroy old blank checks if you are not going to use them.
  3. Limit the amount of personal information printed on the checks to your name and address. Use plain designed checks. The fancier the check the easier it is to forge the signature. Useful information for thieves includes not only your account numbers, but information used to verify your identity, such as your driver's license number, social security number, and secret codes. Don't have this information printed on your checks.
  4. Don't leave your bill payments sitting in an unlocked mailbox for pickup. Many credit thieves will steal bills from rural mailboxes at the end of driveways so they can get your account information, checking information, and even your checks. Go to the Post Office directly or use a curbside USPS mailbox (the blue metal ones) and drop your bills in the slot rather than using less secure street mailboxes.
  5. Be discreet when writing checks in public places. Write your checks carefully and leave no space in which figures or words can be inserted.
  6. When you make an error in writing a check, be sure to destroy the check or write "canceled" across it and store it with your other canceled checks.
  7. If your checks are lost or stolen, report it immediately to your financial institution.
  8. Reconcile your monthly statements as soon as you can to ensure all transactions are accurate. Contact us immediately if you do not receive it when expected. Be sure to contact your institution within that time frame to ensure that proper attention is given to reconciling the problem.
  9. When you reorder checks, mark your calendar. If you don't receive your checks within 15 working days, contact your financial institution immediately to inquire as to the status of the order.
  10. Consider alternatives to check writing. For instance, paying by phone, online, or setting up automatic payments. Fewer checks mean fewer theft opportunities.
ATM Fraud Protection

ATM fraud can occur when individuals lose their card, give their card to someone else to use, or when their Personal Identification Number's confidentiality is compromised. By following these simple guidelines you can greatly reduce your exposure to ATM fraud.

Tips for protecting yourself against ATM fraud

  1. Never write your Personal Identification Number (PIN) on your card or in your wallet. Memorize your PIN as soon as possible. Do not reveal your PIN to anyone not authorized to use the account.
  2. Never use your date of birth, social security number, license number or street address as a PIN -- those are the first numbers a crook will try.
  3. Don't throw away your ATM receipts at the ATM location. Keep them to reconcile your account, then dispose of them properly when you get home.
  4. Always be aware of your surroundings when using the ATM. If it is late at night, try to use a machine that is well lit and avoid dark, remote locations.
  5. Always make sure to retrieve your ATM card from the machine when the transaction is complete.
  6. Be aware of the person behind you. Make sure no one can see you entering your PIN or how much money you withdraw.
  7. Review your statement promptly to ensure all transactions are accurate. Report any discrepancies immediately.
  8. Destroy old ATM cards immediately after receiving your replacement cards.

ATM Scams
In addition to the types ATM fraud that most of us are now aware of, there are two new types that can clean out your account quickly -- card withholding and skimming.

Card withholding occurs when your card gets stuck in the ATM, you can't get it out, and you leave the card in the ATM planning to contact the financial institution the next morning. When you call you find that the card was not stuck in the ATM. What happens is that thieves put a substance into the ATM card slot which will cause your card to stick inside the ATM. They leave the ATM and wait for someone to attempt to use it. They then get in line behind you and try to watch you enter your Personal Identification Number (PIN). This is very common at drive-up ATMs where the user may not be paying attention to other people or cars nearby.

The thieves even go so far as to put up a sign on the ATM stating: "If your card gets stuck, enter your PIN three separate times to retrieve it." This gives them three tries to watch you enter your PIN. After you leave frustrated, and you're planning to contact the ATM owner the next morning, they remove your card with a pair of pliers. They can then use your card at other ATMs and Point-of-Sale (POS) terminals.

Skimming is done at businesses that offer Point-of-Sale (POS) devices for you to pay with your ATM card, such as gas stations. The thieves convince an employee to allow them to connect a lap top computer to the POS machine. The lap top is usually stored under the counter where the POS device is located. When you swipe your card in the POs device to make a payment the information on the magnetic strip on your ATM card is copied and loaded onto a disk. Thieves may also install a hidden video camera that records you entering your PIN. They then match the magnetic information to the PIN and access your accounts.

Precautions to take for countering these scams:
  1. Before inserting your ATM card into an ATM inspect the card slot for any residue.
  2. If there is residue, don't use that ATM. If there is a notice on the ATM about entering your PIN several times, don't use that ATM.
  3. Always cover your hand when entering your PIN: if the thieves don't have your PIN, they can't access your account.

Actions for Fraud Victims
If you suspect fraud, it is important to act quickly to minimize potential damage and your own liability. It is important to keep a detailed account of conversations you have with authorities and financial institutions.

Credit Bureaus. Immediately call the fraud units of the three credit reporting companies -- Experian (formerly TRW), Equifax and Trans Union. Ask that your account include a statement referencing the possibility of fraud.

Creditors. Contact all creditors immediately with whom your name has been used fraudulently -- by phone and in writing. Monitor your accounts closely for any further fraudulent activity.

Law Enforcement. Report the crime to police with jurisdiction in your case. Provide any documentation that you have collected. Get a copy of your police report. Keep the phone number of your fraud investigator handy and give it to creditors and others who require verification of your case.

Financial Institutions. If you have checks stolen or bank accounts set up fraudulently, contact the institution to report the crime. Put stop payments on appropriate outstanding checks. Close your checking and savings accounts and open new accounts. If your ATM card is stolen or compromised, get a new card and PIN. When choosing a PIN, don't use common numbers like the last four digits of your Social Security number, your date of birth, license number or street address.

U.S. Postal Service. Notify the local Postal Inspector if you suspect an identity thief has filed a change of your address with the post office or has used the mail to commit credit or bank fraud.

Social Security Administration. Call to report fraudulent use of your Social Security number.

Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Call to see if another license was issued in your name. Go to your local DMV to request a new number. Also, fill out the DMV's complaint form to begin the fraud investigation process. Send supporting documents with the completed form to the nearest DMV investigation office. Request a driver's license number different than your Social Security number if available in your state.

Civil Courts. If a civil judgment has been entered in your name for actions taken by your impostor, contact the court where the judgment was entered and report that you are a victim of identity theft. If you are wrongfully prosecuted for criminal charges, contact the state Department of Justice and the FBI.

Internet Security Tips
  • Protect yourself against “Phishing Scams”, phony e-mails using fake Web sites that try to fool you into revealing personal financial data. These e-mails may look like they come from real companies, such as PayPal, Ebay, credit card companies, or other financial institutions. To make sure you never provide your personal information to a fraudulent website, never reply to an e-mail link. Always open a new web browser and go directly to their website.
  • Never give your personal information via e-mail.  NorState Federal Credit Union will never request personal information via email.
  • If you want to update your information, go directly to our website by opening a new browser window, and typing in the address.
    Never go to our web site by clicking a link in an e-mail.
  • When entering personal account information, verify that you are on a secure website.  If the website is secure, you will find "https" in the address and a closed padlock in your browser's toolbar.
Phone Security Tips
  • Never give your personal information over the phone.  If you feel a call is suspicious, call the company directly to verify the authenticity of the call.
  • Beware of organizations asking for charitable donations.  If you want to donate money, contact the organizations yourself to make sure that your money is going to the appropriate place.

Your Accounts are Federally Insured to at least $100,000 by the National Credit Union Administration.


Online Security

Is There Privacy on the Internet?

Technology now allows companies to collect information about you and possibly give that information to others. While the Internet is a tremendous resource for information, products and services, you should be sure to safeguard your privacy on-line by following these tips.

Keep Your Personal Information Private
Don't provide personal information- such as your address, telephone number, Social Security number or e-mail address-unless you know who's collecting the information, why they're collecting it and how they'll use it. If you have children, teach them to check with you before giving out any personal or family information on-line.

Look For a Company's On-Line Privacy Policy
Many companies post their privacy policy on their Web site. A company's privacy policy should disclose what information is being collected on the Web site and how that information is being used. Before you provide a company with personal information, check its privacy policy. If you can't find a policy, send an e-mail or written message to the Web site to ask about its policy and request that it be posted on the site.

Make Choices
Many companies give you a choice on their Web site as to whether and how your personal information is used. These companies give you the option to decline having personal information, such as your e-mail address, used or shared with other companies. Look for this as part of the company's privacy policy.

Safe Surfing on the Internet

Practical Advice from the FTC
The Federal Trade Commission provides some important points to keep in mind when you're using and exploring the World Wide Web.

Keep Private Information Private.
Don't disclose personal information unless you know who's collecting it, why, and how it's going to be used. And never disclose your password.

Get To Know On-line Merchants.
Be cautious of a company that claims to have a "secret connection" overseas or doesn't allow e-mail replies.

Question Out-of-This-World Claims.
Claims like "you can earn over $50,000 a month" and "lose weight without dieting" suggest a scam. Be wary of any company that makes a product or performance claim that's unlikely-or just plain hard to believe.

Make Sure It's Secure.
If you buy something on the Internet and need to give your credit card number, verify the on-line security or encryption before you do business.

Know Who's Who.
On-line, anyone can be anyone, anywhere. Because it's easy to fake e-mail addresses, be mindful of whom you're listening to or talking with before you give out personal information.
Watch those .exe Files. Secret programs may exist in files you download-especially .exe files, which are executable files like mini-programs. These files could ruin your hard drive, hijack your modem, or collect information about you without your knowledge. Install a virus protection program before you go on-line.

Filter for Fun.
Inexpensive "filtering" software programs help make sure your family members are protected from sites that may not be age- or interest-appropriate.

How to File a Complaint

You can file a complaint with the FTC by contacting the Consumer Response Center:

  • Telephone: Toll-free 877-382-4357 (877-FTC-HELP) or TDD 202-326-2502
  • Mail: Consumer Response Center, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20580
  • Internet: on-line complaint form found at

Shopping Safely On-line

The World Wide Web is an exciting tool that puts abundant information at your fingertips. With a click of the mouse, it lets you send flowers, buy airline tickets, book a vacation, and track or purchase stocks and mutual funds. This is great. But before you use what the Internet has to offer, be smart and make your on-line experience safe.

Think Privacy & Security
When exploring on-line, remember the privacy and security questions you should ask about a company:

  • What information does the company collect about me and is it secure?
  • How does it use that information and what is the benefit to me?
  • What choices do I have about its use of information about me?

Security on the Internet
Shopping on-line offers lots of benefits that you won't find shopping in a store or by mail. For example, the Internet is always open-seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Bargains can be numerous. And you can shop the world over right at home. Shopping on the Internet can also be safe. Keep in mind the following tips to help ensure that your on-line shopping experience is a safe one:

  • Use a secure browser. The browser that comes with your Internet access software should have industry-standard encryption.
  • Shop with companies you know. If you're not familiar with one, ask for a paper catalog or brochure to get a better idea of their merchandise and services.
  • Keep your password private. Never give it to anyone. Avoid using a telephone number, birth date, or a portion of your Social Security number. Instead, use a combination of numbers, letters, and symbols.
  • Pay by credit or charge card. Your transaction will be protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act, under which you have the right to dispute charges under certain circumstances and temporarily withhold payment while the creditor is investigating them.
  • Keep a record. Be sure to print a copy of your purchase order and confirmation number for your records.
  • Beware of offers made on Web sites. These are not considered to be genuine offers in writing and are not binding. The reason for this is that Web sites can be easily changed. An offer appearing one day may be gone the next, and you cannot prove what an offer was when you first saw it.
  • Be Forewarned - If you see an offer you're interested in, get the specifics in writing before taking advantage of it.