Here are some good ideas for thwarting bad guys
People who want your account information can be both clever and threatening. Before transacting business with unknown parties, arm yourself with information and a healthy dose of skepticism. This page includes resources and information regarding the many tactics used by cybercriminals. If you ever have questions or concerns about possible scams, please call us at 1 800 660-3258.
If you ever have questions about a check’s authenticity, please let us know. It doesn't matter if the check is from us or another financial institution. Reach out to us and we can help you decide how to proceed.
Criminals are continually developing new schemes, but here are some of the most common scams:
Someone impersonating a relative or close friend will ask you to send money because they’ve been hurt or arrested. This typically happens to them while they are traveling. You will be asked to send them funds by wire or Western Union. Hang up or delete the email. If you’re worried the story may be true, hang up and contact your friend or family member directly, using contact information you know is accurate and was not provided by the caller or email.
Notification of Fraud on Account
A phone call, email, or text states fraud has occurred on your account, and requests your credentials. This could include your username, password, card number, or account number. The message will often include a threat to close down your account if you do not respond. These requests are fraudulent in nature. Delete the message or hang up the phone.
You receive an email warning you that your account’s security is at risk or has been breached. It instructs you to click on a link. This link will connect to a website designed to look like that of a legitimate business. Once at the website, you are instructed to enter your account information, which is then stolen. Be wary of unsolicited emails that contain links, especially if they demand an urgent response.
Keeping your computer up to date with the latest anti-virus software is important. Make sure the software comes from a legitimate source, though. Beware of emails and pop-ups offering to sell you protective software. Sometimes they will try to get you to comply with a lie that your computer is infected. Their downloads are actually highly malicious.
Work From Home
If a work-from-home offer involves sending money up front (usually by wire or Western Union), it's a scam. The offer might say the funds are to pre-pay for goods, but it's a con. Your contact may also send you a bogus check for work that has not been completed yet. Then they'll ask you to send a portion of the check back to them. Many of these are illegal pyramid schemes. Be wary of accepting checks or money orders from people you do not know.
Purchase Confirmation Email
You receive confirmation of a purchase you did not make from a fraudster pretending to be a legitimate company. If you respond, they will try to trick you into providing your personal information or a credit card number. Need to contact a business? Go directly to its website without clicking on the link (or calling the phone number) included in the email.
You receive a letter stating you’ve won the lottery, and a check for around $5,000 is enclosed. To claim your prize, you are instructed to cash the check. Then you must wire funds through Western Union or send a money order back and await further instructions. The check is worthless, and the fraudster gets the untraceable guaranteed funds you sent them.
Older people are especially prone to becoming scam targets. If you believe a parent or elderly relative is falling victim to a con, please speak to them. Encourage them to contact their financial institution. You can also suggest they contact their local police department. The National Elder Fraud Hotline (1-833-FRAUD-11) or Federal Trade Commission (https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/) are also great resources.
Mobile payments are highly secure due to a process called "tokenization." Instead of being stored on your phone, your credit card number is exchanged for a virtual number, which is stored on your phone. This is the number the merchant receives, keeping your actual card number confidential.
Our goal is to keep our members informed so that together, we can keep your accounts secure. Read our NorthCountry Blog posts where we share true member experiences to help you avoid falling victim to a scam.
Your personal and financial information is safeguarded behind three layers of protection.
- To view your account, enter your username and password. Never share your password, and don't write it down. Forgot your password? Reset it by selecting "Forgot Username or Password" in the login box on the homepage of our website.
- Our multi-factor authentication prevents people from attempting to access your account from an unauthorized computer. When you log in from a device that isn't registered with our system, you're sent a one-time pass code. This code can be sent to you through a phone call, text message, or an email. If you don't enter the pass code in a timely manner, access will be denied.
- Your personal information is accessed on a secure site that uses every precaution and the latest technology to ensure it's impervious to would-be criminals.
The easiest way to protect your identity is to become paper-free. Your personal information is more likely to be stolen from your mailbox or kitchen counter than from your computer. To safeguard your computer, install a good firewall and use up-to-date software designed to combat pop-ups, spyware, and viruses. You should also:
- Get your financial information online and review it often
- Instead of leaving checks, statements, and other financial information in your mailbox, pay your bills online and use e-Statements.
- Once a year, request a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies.
- When possible, avoid giving out your Social Security number.
- Use current security software on your computer and be sure to use a "wipe" utility before discarding a PC.
- Don't choose obvious passwords, such as your pet's or children's names.
If you believe your identity may have been stolen, follow the steps below. Remember to keep a log of the people you call, their titles and phone numbers.
- Contact your financial institutions.
- Notify creditors, such as credit card companies, phone companies, banks, and other lenders.
- File a police report, which may lend credibility to your case when dealing with creditors who may require proof of criminal activity.
- Call the Federal Trade Commission hotline at 1-877-ID-THEFT (1-877-438-4338) to speak with an identity theft counselor
- Contact the major credit bureaus and request they place a short- or long-term “fraud alert” on your credit file.
- As appropriate, call the:
- Postal Inspection Service, if you believe your mail has been stolen or redirected
- Social Security fraud hotline
- State Department of Motor Vehicles, if you believe someone is using your identity to acquire a driver’s license or ID card
- Utility companies
- Take extra time to review all your accounts and statements, and immediately report any discrepancies