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Information on how to protect yourself financially


Novartis Federal Credit Union takes very seriously the protection and confidentiality of your personal financial information. We have created this page to assist you in the case your information is compromised. We are here to help you get back to normal operations as soon as possible. Your feedback on this site is appreciated. You may contact us at



In the course of a busy day, you may write a check at the grocery store, charge tickets to a ball game, rent a car, mail your tax returns, change service providers for your cell phone, or apply for a credit card. Chances are you don't give these everyday transactions a second thought. But an identity thief does.

Identity theft is a serious crime. Identity theft is a crime in which an imposter obtains key pieces of information such as Social Security and driver's license numbers and uses it for their own personal gain. People whose identities have been stolen can spend months or years and thousands of dollars cleaning up the mess the thieves have made of a good name and credit record. In the meantime, victims of identity theft may lose job opportunities, be refused loans for education, housing, or cars, and even get arrested for crimes they didn't commit. Humiliation, anger, and frustration are among the feelings victims experience as they navigate the process of rescuing their identity.

There are four types of identity theft crime:

  1. Financial ID Theft - This type of case typically focuses on your name and Social Security number (SSN). This person may apply for telephone service, credit cards or loans, buy merchandise, lease cars or apartments.
  2. Criminal ID Theft - The imposter in this crime provides the victim's information instead of his or her own when stopped by law enforcement. Eventually when the warrant for arrest is issued it is in the name of the person issued the citation- yours.
  3. Identity Cloning - In this crime the imposter uses the victim's information to establish a new life. They work and live as you. Examples: Illegal aliens, criminals avoiding warrants, people hiding from abusive situations or becoming a "new person" to leave behind a poor work and financial history.
  4. Business or Commercial Identity Theft - Businesses are also victims of identity theft. Typically the perpetrator gets credit cards or checking accounts in the name of the business. The business finds out when unhappy suppliers send collection notices or their business rating score is affected.

No matter what type of identity theft is involved, the result is a long and sometimes arduous road to recovery. As in all crimes, preventing the crime from occurring in the first place is key.

Identity theft is a complex problem. You will not be able to work on clearing your name as fast as you'd like. Companies move slowly, partly to protect you. Most imposters are never found, let alone arrested or convicted. This is often not the fault of law enforcement, but rather the nature of the crime. So, work with the police, help them out when you can, but let them investigate. Work on clearing your name and getting your life back to normal.


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How identity thieves get your personal information:
  • They may call your credit card issuer to change the billing address on your credit card account. The imposter then runs up charges on your account. Because your bills are being sent to a different address, it may be some time before you realize there's a problem.
  • They may open new credit card accounts in your name. When they use the credit cards and don't pay the bills, the delinquent accounts are reported on your credit report.
  • They may establish phone or wireless service in your name.
  • They may open a bank account in your name and write bad checks on that account.
  • They may counterfeit checks or credit or debit cards, or authorize electronic transfers in your name, and drain your bank account.
  • They may file for bankruptcy under your name to avoid paying debts they've incurred under your name, or to avoid eviction.
  • They may buy a car by taking out an auto loan in your name.
  • They may get identification such as a driver's license issued with their picture, in your name.
  • They may get a job or file fraudulent tax returns in your name.
  • They may give your name to the police during an arrest. If they don't show up for their court date, a warrant for arrest is issued in your name.


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How identity thieves use your personal information:
  • They may call your credit card issuer to change the billing address on your credit card account. The imposter then runs up charges on your account. Because your bills are being sent to a different address, it may be some time before you realize there's a problem.
  • They may open new credit card accounts in your name. When they use the credit cards and don't pay the bills, the delinquent accounts are reported on your credit report.
  • They may establish phone or wireless service in your name.
  • They may open a bank account in your name and write bad checks on that account.
  • They may counterfeit checks or credit or debit cards, or authorize electronic transfers in your name, and drain your bank account.
  • They may file for bankruptcy under your name to avoid paying debts they've incurred under your name, or to avoid eviction.
  • They may buy a car by taking out an auto loan in your name.
  • They may get identification such as a driver's license issued with their picture, in your name.
  • They may get a job or file fraudulent tax returns in your name.
  • They may give your name to the police during an arrest. If they don't show up for their court date, a warrant for arrest is issued in your name.


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Steps to Take When Identity Theft Happens

It is important to act promptly. Place your phone calls immediately and follow up in writing within 30 days.

Contact the fraud departments of any one of the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit file. The first one you contact will contact the other two. Follow up with a written Seven-year Victim Statement.

Contact and close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. These may include credit card companies, telephone and cell phone companies, credit unions, and banks. Follow up in writing within thirty days.

If your Novartis Federal Credit Union Accounts have been tampered with, please contact us immediately at


To Report Fraudulent use of your checks, contact these organizations:

  • Check Rite/ Global payments (800) 638-4600
  • SCAN (800) 262-7771
  • Tele-Check (800) 710-9898
  • Chex Systems (888) 478-6356 or (800) 842-5880

Ask each creditor if they will accept an ID Theft Affidavit provided by the FTC to report your claim. The ID Theft Affidavit can be used to alert companies when a new account was opened fraudulently in your name.


It is particularly important to follow up with credit card companies in writing.

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 a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
FTC's Identity Theft Hotline toll-free at 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338)

If you get a new driver's license, be sure to ask for a new license number. In California , call the DMV DL/ID Fraud Hotline at (866) 658-5758. You should report the fraud to the Social Security Fraud Hot Line: (800) 269-0271

If mail service was used in the fraud, contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. This agency is helpful if any fraudulent utility bills or apartment leases show up on your credit report. U.S. Postal Inspectors: (800) 372-8347.

Keep a record of your conversations and correspondence. Document the time and money you spend on clearing your name. In some states, any person found guilty of financial identity theft will be ordered to pay restitution to the victim for any financial loss, including lost wages.

You may want to use the form, "Chart Your Course of Action," to help yourself get organized. Exactly which steps you should take to protect yourself depends on your circumstances and how your identity has been misused.


Useful Resources on the Web
Get a copy of ID Theft:

Seven-year Victim Statement

As a further precaution, you may want to consider adding a fraud victim statement, which will remain on your credit report for seven years. This statement asks credit grantors to contact you by phone before granting credit. What this means is that you may not be able to get instant credit, since you will not be home to answer the verification call from the credit grantor. Victim statements are generally added when a consumer has confirmed that someone is using their identification information in a fraudulent manner.

To add a victim statement to your personal credit report and to order your personal credit report through U.S. mail, please provide the information below, along with a copy of the page of your phone bill that displays your name, address and home phone number. It must show your name, address and home phone number. You also may give a business number where credit grantors can contact you.

PO Box 9556
Allen, TX 75013
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834
PO Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374

They will need the following Identification information

  • Your Name,
  • Your Address,
  • Your Social Security Number,
  • Your Date of Birth,
  • Your home telephone number, and
  • A description of the situation and any comments you wish to make.


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Chart Your Course of Action

Use this form to record the steps you've taken to report the fraudulent use of your identity.
Keep this list in a safe place for reference.


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Tips on Organizing Your ID Theft Case
  • Accurate and complete records will greatly improve your chances of resolving your identity theft case
  • Follow up in writing with all contacts you've made on the phone or in person. Use certified mail, return receipt requested.
  • Keep copies of all correspondence or forms you send.
  • Write down the name of anyone you talk to, what he or she told you, and the date the conversation occurred. Use Chart Your Course of Action, below, to help you.
  • Keep the originals of supporting documentation, like police reports, and letters to and from creditors; send copies only.
  • Set up a filing system for easy access to your paperwork.
  • Keep old files even if you believe your case is closed. One of the most difficult and annoying aspects of identity theft is that errors can reappear on your credit reports or your information can be re-circulated. Should this happen, you'll be glad you kept your files.


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Tips on Filing a Police Report

Provide documentation. Furnish as much documentation as you can to prove your case. Debt collection letters, credit reports, your notarized ID Theft Affidavit, and other evidence of fraudulent activity can help the police file a complete report.

Be persistent. Local authorities may tell you that they can't take a report. Stress the importance of a police report; many creditors require one to resolve your dispute. Also remind them that under their voluntary "Police Report Initiative," credit bureaus will automatically block the fraudulent accounts and bad debts from appearing on your credit report, but only if you can give them a copy of the police report. If you can't get the local police to take a report, try your county police. If that doesn't work, try your state police.

If you're told that identity theft is not a crime under your state law, ask to file a Miscellaneous Incident Report instead. See the list of state laws below.

Be a motivating force. Ask your police department to search the FTC's Consumer Sentinel database for other complaints in your community. You may not be the first or only victim of this identity thief. If there is a pattern of cases, local authorities may give your case more consideration.

That's why it's also important to file a complaint with the FTC. Law enforcement agencies use complaints filed with the FTC to aggregate cases, spot patterns, and track growth in identity theft. This information can then be used to improve investigations and victim assistance.


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What You Can Do Today
  • Order a copy of your credit report from the three major credit bureaus. Your credit report contains information on where you work and live, the credit accounts that have been opened in your name, how you pay your bills and whether you've been sued, arrested or filed for bankruptcy. Make sure it's accurate and includes only those activities you've authorized. By law, credit bureaus can charge you no more than $9 for a copy of your credit report.

Credit Bureaus

Report fraud: 1-800-525-6285
Order a credit report: 1-800-685-1111
TDD 800-255-0056 and write:
P.O. Box 740241 Atlanta , GA 30374-0241

Report fraud: 1-888-EXPERIAN (1-888-397-3742)
Order a credit report: 1-888-EXPERIAN (1-888-397-3742)
TDD 800-972-0322 and write:
P.O. Box 1017 Allen , TX 75013-0949

Report fraud: 1-800-680-7289
Order a credit report: 1-800-916-8800
TDD 877-553-7803; fax: 714-447-6034; email: or write:
Fraud Victim Assistance Department
P.O. Box 6790 , Fullerton , CA 92834

  • Place passwords on your credit card, bank, and phone accounts. Avoid using easily available information like your mother's maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your SSN or your phone number, or a series of consecutive numbers. When opening new accounts, you may find that many businesses still have a line on their applications for your mother's maiden name. Ask if you can use a password instead.

  • Secure personal information in your home, especially if you have roommates, employ outside help, or are having work done in your home.

  • Ask about information security procedures in your workplace or at businesses, doctor's offices or other institutions that collect your personally identifying information. Find out who has access to your personal information and verify that it is handled securely. Ask about the disposal procedures for those records as well. Find out if your information will be shared with anyone else. If so, ask how your information can be kept confidential.

Active Duty Alerts for Military Personnel

If you are a member of the military and away from your usual duty station, you may place an active duty alert on your credit reports to help minimize the risk of identity theft while you are deployed. Active duty alerts are in effect on your report for one year. If your deployment lasts longer, you can place another alert on your credit report.

When you place an active duty alert, you'll be removed from the credit reporting companies' marketing list for pre-screened credit card offers for two years unless you ask to go back on the list before then.

See Consumer Reporting Companies for contact information. The process for getting and removing an alert, and a business's response to your alert, are the same as that for an initial alert. You may use a personal representative to place or remove an alert.

Maintaining Vigilance

  • · Don't give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or on the Internet unless you've initiated the contact or are sure you know who you're dealing with. Identity thieves are clever, and have posed as representatives of banks, Internet service providers (ISPs), and even government agencies to get people to reveal their SSN, mother's maiden name, account numbers, and other identifying information. Before you share any personal information, confirm that you are dealing with a legitimate organization. Check an organization's website by typing its URL in the address line, rather than cutting and pasting it. Many companies post scam alerts when their name is used improperly. Or call customer service using the number listed on your account statement or in the telephone book. For more information, see How Not to Get Hooked by a 'Phishing' Scam, a publication from the FTC.

Treat your mail and trash carefully

  • Deposit your outgoing mail in post office collection boxes or at your local post office, rather than in an unsecured mailbox. Promptly remove mail from your mailbox. If you're planning to be away from home and can't pick up your mail, call the U.S. Postal Service at 1-800-275-8777 to request a vacation hold. The Postal Service will hold your mail at your local post office until you can pick it up or are home to receive it.

  • To thwart an identity thief who may pick through your trash or recycling bins to capture your personal information, tear or shred your charge receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, checks and bank statements, expired charge cards that you're discarding, and credit offers you get in the mail. To opt out of receiving offers of credit in the mail, call: 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688). The three nationwide consumer reporting companies use the same toll-free number to let consumers choose not to receive credit offers based on their lists. Note: You will be asked to provide your SSN which the consumer reporting companies need to match you with your file.

  • Don't carry your SSN card; leave it in a secure place.

  • Give your SSN only when absolutely necessary, and ask to use other types of identifiers. If your state uses your SSN as your driver's license number, ask to substitute another number. Do the same if your health insurance company uses your SSN as your policy number.

  • Carry only the identification information and the credit and debit cards that you'll actually need when you go out.

  • Be cautious when responding to promotions. Identity thieves may create phony promotional offers to get you to give them your personal information.

  • Keep your purse or wallet in a safe place at work; do the same with copies of administrative forms that have your sensitive personal information.

  • When ordering new checks, pick them up from the credit union instead of having them mailed to your home mailbox.


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A Special Word About Social Security Numbers

Your employer and financial institutions will need your SSN for wage and tax reporting purposes. Other businesses may ask you for your SSN to do a credit check if you are applying for a loan, renting an apartment, or signing up for utilities. Sometimes, however, they simply want your SSN for general record keeping. If someone asks for your SSN, ask:

  • Why do you need my SSN?
  • How will my SSN be used?
  • How do you protect my SSN from being stolen?
  • What will happen if I don't give you my SSN?

If you don't provide your SSN, some businesses may not provide you with the service or benefit you want. Getting satisfactory answers to these questions will help you decide whether you want to share your SSN with the business. The decision to share is yours.

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Great Advice on how to recognize and handle "Phishing" Scams


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Federal Trade Commission Launches Website to Fight Cyber Crime

In an attempt to address the rising cyber crime threat, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) on January 10, 2006 unveiled an online tool designed to help consumers avoid becoming victims of Internet scams.

At the website,, consumers can take interactive quizzes designed to enlighten them about identity theft, phishing, spam and online-shopping scams. If the user selects a wrong answer, the program explains why that particular misconception about Internet security can lead to trouble.

Elsewhere on the site, consumers can find detailed guidance on how to monitor their credit histories, use effective passwords and recover from identity theft.

Five federal agencies and 13 private organizations partnered to sponsor the OnGuard Online website. Information on the site is not copyrighted, and the FTC encourages companies and other organizations to download and widely disseminate the information.

"We're trying to make the information as accessible as possible, with tips so people can take action," said Nat Wood, the FTC's assistant director for consumer and business education. The increasing concern about online threats is one of the reasons we could put together such a blue-chip coalition for a program like this," says Wood. "E-commerce is great, but we just want people to have the tools to use it safely."

AlertMe Identity Theft Fraud Protection with Insurance Protection - only $4.25 per month. Every 79 seconds someones identity is stolen. It costs the average consumer over $1,000 to fix their financial history after this happens. Protect yourself with our new credit monitoring service.

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Recent Scam Alerts You Should Be Aware Of

March 25, 2014

Executive Summary 

Our card processor has learned of a widespread telephone phishing scam.  Cardholders may receive what appear to be automated phone calls or texts, telling them that their ATM/Debit cards are locked.This is not limited to cardholders. It may also be related to your cards held at other institutions that may have been breached in which you make your payments through your credit union bill paying service.  The recent breaches at Target, Norstroms, Michaels, etc have the possibilities of also breaching their payment records as well as their customers card information.

Details The automated message requests call recipients to "Press 1" where they are to enter their 16-digit card number into their telephone key pad. Once this is entered, the scammers are then requesting the card’s Personal Identification Number (PIN).  The scam artists are attempting to obtain customer card numbers and PINs in order to gain access to customer accounts via ATMs or POS (point of sale) purchases.

Summary Novaratis FCU will not request card, account information or PIN numbers from cardholders over the phone.  In many cases, phishing scams, whether by phone or through emails, attempt to gain personal information from the call or email recipients such as:·  First and Last Name·  Debit Card or ATM Card Number·  Debit or ATM Card Personal Identification Number (PIN)·  Date of Birth·  Social Security Number·  Account Number and/or Account Type.

Please do not respond to these requests.  


Scammers find lucrative business from funerals, foreclosures

While you're pinching pennies during the recession, scammers keep finding innovative ways to pick your pocket.The foreclosure mess is turning into a lucrative business for crooks who promise to "help people" avoid foreclosure--for a price ( June 21). While there are many legitimate nonprofit agencies providing free, confidential help to borrowers, con artists convince desperate homeowners who are behind on their payments to fork over $1,500, $3,000, or even up to $8,000 in fees for services that typically are free. Before you seek help, ask the credit union for advice or for referrals to legitimate counselors. Also, visit, which allows you to enter your zip code to access information about local agencies affiliated with the federal government's National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling (NFMC) Program, a collaboration with NeighborWorks America.Be on the lookout for yet another scam source that's less well-known: online guest books for deceased individuals. This is a site where family and friends can share stories about the deceased, leave messages of support for each other, and upload pictures. But Consumer Reports (June 15) warns that scammers have easy access to the e-mail addresses some visitors post on the guest book site. Crooks then send phony messages, stating that a long-deceased relative owes them money that will be released as soon as fees are paid to an overseas bank account. In some cases, the letter writers claim to be officials of foreign governments. Many people have been fooled--even when they aren't distracted by grief. Avoid becoming a victim of online guest books:

Refuse to respond to anyone or any company that requests an advance payment of fees. Add the e-mail address of the sender to your "block address" list. Notify your local or state consumer protection office of the scam so they can pass the information on to authorities and warn others.
If you receive a check, take it to your credit union to verify authenticity before you cash it. If you deposit it, you may be liable for repaying any funds you withdraw against it.

For more information, listen to "How to Prevent Foreclosure" in Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

Beware of bogus IRS phishing scam

A bogus e-mail that appears to be from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is making the rounds. It tells recipients they are about to be audited or are due a big refund. The Credit Union League is alerting its member credit unions about the scam.The e-mail uses the IRS logo at the top, but the message is phony ( via Credit Union League Risk Alert March 2).The scammers want consumers to click on a link in the e-mail that takes the recipient to the scammers' website--which looks identical to the IRS site.The bogus site contains a form that asks for Social Security number, birth date, mother's maiden name, credit card information and an ATM card personal identification number.With this information, scammers could charge items to consumers' credit cards and drain their bank and credit union accounts. The Social Security numbers could be used to access medical records and financial accounts, and even assume the consumer's identity.The IRS will never send taxpayers an e-mail if it has to do with their account or private information. An unsolicited e-mail that purports to be from the IRS is bogus. Don't click on links or open attachments. Delete the e-mail. Know risks of paying at the pump McLEAN, Va. (8/13/08)--The next time you fill up, think twice about using the "pay at the pump" option. Police have uncovered a skimming device on some gas station pumps, installed by thieves so they can steal your credit and debit card data (USA TODAY Aug. 5).This hard-to-detect electronic device has been discovered at gas stations in five states--California, Delaware, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Washington--with $1 million to $3.5 million stolen from unsuspecting customers.Several crooks have bypassed the skimming device and intercepted data by hacking into a wireless connection used by the station. Some stations wirelessly transmit credit card data from the pump to their central computers. All a thief has to do is wait nearby, hack in, and download the data to a laptop ( Mar. 17).Although skimming devices have been used at ATMs, they just recently have been discovered on the inside or outside of gas station pumps. Police are asking gas station owners and attendants to put seals on the pumps and check them daily, but no real precautionary measures have yet been put in place.To protect your card data at the pump and elsewhere, take protective measures:

  • Pay inside. If you're using debit or credit at gas stations, consider paying inside and signing all receipts. Or, for added peace of mind, use cash. Some stations offer discounts for patrons who use paper money rather than plastic.
  • Monitor your accounts. Check financial statements online or as soon as they arrive, and report any problems. Also, order a credit report once a year from each of the three credit-reporting agencies--Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Visit
  • Safeguard your numbers. Memorize your personal identification number (PIN), don't carry your Social Security card with you, and don't write either of those numbers on any of your cards or in your address book.
  • Choose credit option. When using your debit card, the cashier may ask, "Credit or debit?" Typically, credit transactions that require a signature offer better protection against fraud than those conducted using a PIN number. Also, choosing "debit" often is treated as an ATM transaction, which could subtract from any free monthly "allowance" of debit transactions to which you may be entitled. Take this into account with all purchases, not just gas.
  • Get help. If you suspect fraudulent activity, tell the station attendant and contact local law enforcement immediately.

Secret Shopper Scam

A variant of secret shopper and counterfeit check scams is showing up in several parts of the country. Capitalizing on the popularity of "mystery shopping," in which consumers are recruited to monitor the performance of retail businesses, scammers are making withdrawals from victims' bank/credit union accounts. Secret Shoppers send the member a package by FedEx asking him/her to do a secret shopping assignment. The assignment was to cash a cashier's check and then send a Money Gram from the local Wal-Mart. The member thought he was monitoring Money Gram's performance, but the scammer, using the name "Secret Shoppers," sent a counterfeit check. The member had wired his own money, about $3,000 to the scammer.

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