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by Mike Mastro, President/CEO Los Angeles Firemen’s Credit Union


T


his past month, Visa and Mastercard alerted financial institutions about a breach at a payment processor. The Atlanta-based pro- cessor, Global Payments, Inc., was hacked, and credit card num-


bers were stolen from their systems. This breach affected banks, credit unions and other credit-card issuers. At the writing of this article, financial sources reported the


breach as being “massive” and potentially affecting in excess of ten mil- lion MasterCard and Visa card holders. The breach was later down- graded and was reported that the breach was contained, affecting ap- proximately 1.5 million cardholders. It’s not the first time credit card data has been breached, nor


will it be the last time. Hackers are continually looking for ways to de- feat the security systems to access private information. So it’s important not to let your guard down. For this month’s article, I’ll offer you tips on how to minimize your chances of being a victim of credit card fraud.


Review your credit card statement regularly. When you receive your credit card statement, don’t just pay it or stick it in the drawer. Scrutinize your charge activity. If you (or your spouse) do not recall making a charge listed on your bill, question it. Call your credit card company. Ask for details about the charge in question. If it turns out that the charge is fraudulent, your credit card company will be able to take immediate steps to cancel and re-issue a new card to you. For questions about your LAFCU Visa credit card and any card activity, please contact us at (800) 231-1626.


Change your online passwords regularly. Don’t be complacent with your online passwords. Many experts recommend changing your password every 3 months. And, while it may be tempting to use passwords for multiple websites, DON’T. If a fraudster is able to figure out the password for one of your accounts, they could have access to others. Be sure to create passwords that contain numbers, letters, and symbols and are more than six characters.


Protect your smart phone with a password. Perhaps the most overlooked and easiest way to protect the information stored on your cell phone or mobile device, is by enabling the password feature. If you’re one of the many who may store a password on your phone or email, a hacker may be able to break into your accounts. Keep up your guard and password-protect your phone.


Press the credit button when using your debit cards. At LAFCU, we always encourage members to press the credit button whenev- er using your Visa debit card. By doing so, you’ll be required to sign for your purchases and verify your identity with the merchant. You’ll also be protected with Visa’s Zero Liability program where your liability is zero.* Your liability for unauthorized purchases made with your PIN is $50. Plus, when you press the credit button, you’ll also help generate additional income for the Credit Union.


Be cautious about sharing your personal information on social websites. Let’s face it, facebook, twitter, and other social sites are fun. We can chat, play games, but for the most part, we can connect with others. Through the magic of these social sites, we can keep in touch with family and friends, reconnect with classmates and long- lost friends, and more. We are able to share information about our- selves, or learn more about others who have similar interests.


While on the surface there are many positives to these social sites, think twice about sharing too much personal information, “friend- ing” someone you don’t know very well, or posting photos.


Fraud-


sters use the information you’ve posted about yourself or the in- formation that’s posted about you to learn more about you. Birth dates, anniversaries, and other personal information give fraudsters more information to guess at your passwords. Fraudsters also copy photos from your pages for their own purposes.


Should you ever become the victim of identity theft or fraud,


or even suspect unauthorized activity on your LAFCU accounts, call us immediately. Representatives can be reached at (800) 231-1626. I also encourage you to also visit the Security Center of our website at www. lafirecu.org/security, for additional tips.


Have a safe month! Mike Mastro


*With Visa’s Zero Liability policy, you will not be liable for unauthorized “CREDIT” option transactions. Visa’s Zero Liability policy does not apply to PIN transactions not processed by Visa. Your liability for unau- thorized PIN transactions (ATM or POS) will be the same as previously disclosed for ATM cards.


A portion of fire-related jewelry profits donated to the Widows, Or phans and Disabled Firemen’s Fund.


May 2012 • 47


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