Fraud Prevention Tips


Privacy and Identity Theft


What Orange County’s Credit Union is doing to protect you

We have an industry-leading, advanced fraud detection system called Falcon that protects your debit, point-of-purchase, and credit card transactions. The program actually learns your purchasing patterns, comparing real-time authorization data with your individual card behavior and existing trends.

 When you use your debit or credit card, we'll quickly analyze the transaction, deliver an authorization decision, and determine if the account should be queued for further attention. Then, an analyst reviews the item and determines the appropriate course of action. Depending on the transaction, an analysis can result in you receiving a personal phone call to verify the activity on your account.

Of course, your transactions change over time. So the system continues to learn along with them, updating itself continually.

These security benefits are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you receive a call from the Falcon fraud analysts, they will identify themselves as calling on behalf of Orange County’s Credit Union. Remember, you will never be asked to give your Debit or Credit Card number, account number, or Personal Identification Number (PIN). You will only be asked to verify specific transactions on your account. If you ever have questions regarding this fraud-protection program, please contact us immediately.


Protecting Your Account

Personal Check Security

Thieves want your personal checks and the information that can be found on it.  Once a thief has your checking account information, they can create counterfeit checks that will drain your checking account.  By following these simple guidelines, you can greatly reduce your risk of becoming a victim:

  • 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.
  • Keep your blank and cancelled 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. 
  • Limit the amount of personal information printed on the checks to your name and address.  Use plain designated 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.  Never have this information printed on your checks.
  • Don’t leave your bill payments sitting in an unlocked mailbox for pickup.  Many 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 boxes) and drop your bills in the slot rather than using less secure street mailboxes.
  • Be discreet when writing checks in public places.  Write your checks carefully and leave no space in which figures or words can be inserted. 
  • When you make an error writing a check, be sure to destroy the check or write “cancelled” across it and store it with your other cancelled checks. 
  • If your checks are lost or stolen, immediately report it to your financial institution.
  • Reconcile your monthly statements as soon as you can to ensure all transactions are accurate.  Contact Orange County’s Credit Union immediately if you find a transaction you do not recognize.
  • 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 your order.
  • Consider alternatives to check writing.  For instance, paying by phone, on-line, setting up automatic payments or signing up for BillPay with Orange County’s Credit Union are all safer and often times more efficient options.  Fewer checks mean fewer theft opportunities. 
What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft happens when someone uses your personal information to get credit cards or other loans, open bank accounts, make counterfeit checks, get false identification or commit other crimes.  There are many ways that identity thieves get your personal information:

  • They email you a letter asking you to go to their website to update your account information.
  • They build software to pull personal information off of your computer.
  • They steal wallets and mail.
  • They go through your trash.
  • They learn what they can about you by looking at your social networking sites such as Facebook and Instagram. 
  • They watch over your shoulder at an ATM.
  • They “skim” your credit card using an illegal device.
  • They pose as a legitimate company and ask you for information (when this technique is done using email, it Is called “phishing”).
  • They purchase the information from hackers that have broken into databases, such as hospitals, employers, or government agencies.
How to limit your risk of identity theft

Go Paperless – This free option is considerably safer than paying bills and receiving account statements through the mail.

Don’t Give Out Your Information – Never disclose your account information, Social Security Number, birth date, or Driver License number over the phone, online or via text unless you initiate the contact.
Shred Often – Shred anything that has financial or personal information, such as credit offers and any transaction or purchase receipts you don’t need. 

Create A Strong Password – Use a combination of numbers, letters, and symbols.  Don’t use words, names, or dates that may be commonly known or posted on social networking websites.

Limit The Information You Share On Social Networking Sites – Fraudsters can obtain a startling amount of information about a person  from websites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter; this includes birthdays, mother’s maiden name, children’s and pet’s names, and employment information.  If you want to post this information, limit who you share it with – don’t make it public for everyone to view.

Be Proactive, Check Your Credit Regularly – Monitor your credit reports at least once a year and review your account statements monthly.  If you have children under the age of 18, you may want to regularly check their credit as well – fraudsters will use any social security number they can get their hands on, regardless of the age of the victim.

Don’t Use Your Debit Card For Online Purchases – If your card is compromised at an unsecure website, it could take weeks for the money to be replaced.

Public Wi-Fi Is Not For Banking EVER – Always use a secure wireless network, an app, or your own data plan; unsecured Wi-Fi is easier to hack into.

Never Use A Questionable ATM – If there are loose or wobbly parts attached to it, or if the appearance is dramatically different since your last visit, use another ATM.

Report Any ATM Issues Immediately – If your card is acquired by an ATM and not returned at the end of the transaction, call your card issuer and request a new card number. 

Signs you may be the victim of identity theft:
  • You see withdrawals from your bank account that you can’t explain.
  • You don’t get your bills or other mail.
  • Merchants refuse your checks.
  • Debt collectors call you about debts that aren’t yours.
  • You find unfamiliar accounts or charges on your credit report.
  • Statements show up for an unknown credit card account.
  • You have good credit, but an application for credit is denied.
  • Your health plan rejects your legitimate medical claim because the records show you’ve reached your benefits limit.
  • The IRS notifies you that more than one tax return was filed in your name, or that you have income from an employer you don’t work for.
  • You get notice that your information was compromised by a data breach where you do business or have an account.
Already a victim of identity theft?

Visit to get a detailed and customized recovery plan for your particular situation.  This will often involve:

  • Calling the credit bureaus.
  • Contacting creditors where fraudulent accounts were opened.
  • Filing a police report with your local police department.
  • If mail was involved, contacting the US Postal Service to correct any issues and report the crime.
  • Reporting the fraudulent use of a social security number to the Social Security Administration.
  • Contacting the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to determine if any additional licenses were issues in your name.

REMEMBER:  Orange County’s Credit Union and our affiliates will NEVER ask you to verify your account number, Social Security number, debit or credit card number, PIN, or any other sensitive personal financial information via email, pop-up window, or text message.  If you receive a request for this information please call us at (714)755-5900 or (888)354-6228. 


Fraud Schemes

Common Fraud Schemes

Fraud schemes come in many different forms – so stay alert and remember the old saying – “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”.

Many people know of the common schemes where a scammer will contact your asking you to send money back to someone who is handling  an inheritance or lottery/prize winnings; however, they might also involve a loan application, a job you were hired or approached to do, or a friend or family member who needs help.  These scams can end up costing victims thousands of dollars, with some costing upwards of millions of dollars.  Be aware.  However tempting the offer may seem, don’t fall for it. 

Check Fraud – The most common check fraud involves receiving a generous check with an explanation that you’ve just won an award, a prize, a lottery, or some other windfall.  You’re instructed to deposit the check and wire a portion back to pay fees, taxes, or the like.  If you fall for this scheme, you could be out of luck.  Wired funds can’t be retrieved and, by law, you’re responsible for the deposited check – even though you didn’t realize it was counterfeit.

Romance Scam – Dating apps and websites are becoming more and more popular, which has unfortunately attracted criminals that target unsuspecting men and women who are trying to make a connection online.  These criminals use stolen pictures and made up information to reel in their victims.  They work to cultivate the relationship but will make excuses to avoid meeting in person.  Eventually, the criminal will ask the victim for their bank account information so that they can make deposits into their account.  The reasons for these deposits vary, including that they are currently out of the country and can’t access their own accounts, they moved to a new area and can’t get to a bank, or that their own account has been frozen due to a misunderstanding.  The criminal will then ask the victim to deposit the funds into the account of a friend or family member, send the funds via Western Union, or use the funds to purchase iTunes gift cards.  When it turns out the initial deposit was fraudulent, the victim is then liable for all money sent.

Loan Scam – Many people going through tough financial times look to apply for loans to get them through.  Be wary, however, because criminals create convincing websites stating they are a legitimate lender.  Once someone applies for a loan, they tell the applicant that due to poor credit, they will need to allow the lender to deposit money directly into their account, and the applicant will have to immediately pay it back via Western Union or MoneyGram to “boost” their credit score.  Once the applicant does this a few times, the lender states they will then send funds the applicant can keep.  However, before this can happen the funds are determined to be fraudulent and not only does the victim not receive a loan – they are also out the money they already sent to the criminal. 

Check Overpayment – Don’t accept a check for more than your selling price, no matter how tempting the offer or how convincing the story.  Ask the buyer to write the check for the correct amount.  Be especially cautious of out-of-state checks.  They can be hard to verify and it can take weeks for your financial institution to determine a check is fake.

Money Orders – Be cautious when accepting a money order.  If the denomination area is discolored, it could mean the money order has been altered.  Hold it up to the light to make sure the watermark and security thread are visible.

Money Mules – Fraudsters typically find victims by searching websites where job seekers post resumes.  Money mules are most often recruited through bogus job offers for payment processors, financial managers, or overseas representatives with the ability to work from home.  Upon accepting the job, the victims are notified they will receive deposits into their accounts via ACH and/or wire transfer.  Then they are instructed to either wire the funds to an account at another financial institution or send the funds to individuals via Western Union.  The money mules keep a portion of the funds deposited to their account as wages.  Through this process, the criminal received the funds while hiding their involvement.

Secret Shopper Schemes – Shoppers may be told that their first assignment is to evaluate a money transfer service, like Western Union or MoneyGram.  The shopper receives a check with instructions to deposit it in a personal bank account, withdraw  the amount in cash and wire it to a third party – but the check is fake, and your money is gone.  With these schemes, websites are often created where you pay a fee to register to become a mystery shopper and receive information about a certification program; a directory of mystery shopping companies; or a guarantee of a mystery shopping job.  Remember, it’s unnecessary to pay anyone to get into the mystery shopping business.  The certification offered is almost always worthless, and legitimate mystery shopper jobs are listed on the internet for free. 

Here are some tell-tale warning signs that an unsolicited text, phone call, or email might be a potential scam.  Watch out if it asks you to:

  • Provide assistance in accessing funds held in a foreign country by paying taxes or other fees.
  • Pay fees for a loan or to boost your credit rating before you are granted a loan.
    Access your account online or make deposits to your account.
  • Return an overpayment for an agreed-upon amount for merchandise to them or another party.
  • Give your debit card and PIN information in order to be paid for a job.
  • Send funds out via Western Union or MoneyGram, as part of a job assignment, after you are sent checks and instructed to deposit them to your account.
  • Withdraw cash from your account and deposit the cash at another financial institution, after you are sent checks and have deposits them to your account.
  • Send merchandise out or money via MoneyGram or Western Union as part of a mystery shopping job.
  • Purchase prepaid cards or prepaid phones as part of a mystery shopping job.

This is not an exhaustive list of the numerous fraud scams that exist, so if you have any questions about a transaction, please contact the Credit Union at (888)354-6228 and ask to speak to the Fraud Department for assistance or visit the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at for a more detailed list of common fraud schemes. 


ATM and Debit Card Fraud Protection

How to protect yourself from ATM skimmers

What are ATM skimmers? – Skimmers are small devices that are placed inside of the card reader of an ATM, and can read the magnetic strip from any card inserted into the card reader.  Thus, when you slide your card into the ATM, you’re unwittingly sliding it through the counterfeit reader, which scans and stores all of the information on the magnetic strip.  However, skimmers are not capable of reading the personal identification number (PIN) associated with a particular card, so fraudsters often rely on tiny pinhole cameras pointed towards the PIN pad to obtain the PIN.  Once they have your card number and PIN, the fraudsters create a counterfeit card that they can then use to drain your account. 

However, there’s an easy way to protect yourself and your money when using an ATM:  simply cover the PIN pad with your hand when you enter the digits.  Though there are some more sophisticated skimmer models that use PIN pad overlays, they are expensive and rare.  Covering your hand as you type out your PIN is one of the most simple and effective ways of protecting yourself from ATM skimming.  Some other methods to protect yourself:

  • Use well-lit ATMs that appear to be in good working condition.
  • Look for foreign objects or loose pieces that do not belong and avoid using an ATM if either of these items is found.
  • Avoid ATMs in dark or poorly visible areas. 
  • When possible, use ATM’s inside of a financial institution.
  • Trust your instincts.  When in doubt, use an ATM somewhere else. 
  • Keep an eye on your accounts.  Regularly checking your balances may alert you to fraudulent activity before too much damage is done.
Protecting yourself from ATM fraud
  • Never write your 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.
  • 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.
  • Don’t throw away your ATM receipt at the ATM location.  Keep them to reconcile your account, then dispose of them properly when you get home. 
  • Destroy old ATM cards immediately after receiving your replacement cards.
  • Inform Orange County’s Credit Union and any other financial institutions you do business with immediately if your card has been lost or stolen.  As a cardholder, you may be held liable for any fraudulent charges that occurred on your card after you realized your card was lost or stolen.
  • Respond to calls from your financial institution.  We are constantly on the lookout for strange charges on your account and often notice a problem before you do. 
Protecting yourself from Debit/Credit fraud
  • Keep a list of all of your credit cards including the account number and phone number to the issuing company.  Keep this information in a safe place so that if you need to report a card is lost or stolen, you have all of the information you need to do so.
    Review your debit/credit card statement as soon as possible.  Match charges with your receipts to ensure all charges are yours and are for the correct amount.
  • Use the online banking service from your card issuer so you can check charges between receiving mailed statements. 
  • Always sign a new card immediately.
  • When making a purchase with your debit/credit card, make sure you get back the card and receipt.  Check the receipt for accuracy.
  • When using a debit/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.
  • Only travel with debit/credit cards you plan on using.
  • Never give your debit/credit card number over the phone unless you initiate the call.
Additional Resources:

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