To help you protect yourself, Joan Jensen, president and CEO of Central Credit Union of Illinois, was in our ABC7 studio with tips.
1. Never send any portion of funds from a check to unknown parties. If you are not expecting to get money, assume there is a good chance the check is bogus. If a check is bad, you will be required by your financial institution to make good on the check.
2. Don't trust Caller ID or call-back numbers. If you didn't initiate a phone call, don't give out any personal information. Some fraudsters use high-tech means to manipulate Caller ID to make it seem as though they are someone else - your bank, charity, or insurance company. Before giving out any personal or credit card information, call the party back using a published, trusted phone number. Don't rely on the phone number they give you during your call or on a voice mail message.
3. Don't use links in unsolicited e-mail. Fraudsters often send look-alike e-mails and pretend to be your financial institution, the IRS, a prospective employer, or a well-know charity. They hope you use the link in their e-mail to go to their counterfeit site. Many of these sites look like the real sites. When providing personal information on a web site, manually enter in the web address using a trusted, published source for the address, or use your trusted favorites bookmarks to link to your regular vendors.
4. Before sending any money to help out a friend or family member in an emergency situation, check it out. Fraudsters often get information from social networking sites about your family and friends. They may try to call you about fictional emergencies saying your friend needs money immediately. Call your friends and family first to personally verify the emergency before sending money.