PROTECT YOURSELF FROM SCAMS AND FRAUD!
By: Barbara Mathey
Life is different in the world post-COVID. Many more people are using technologies and online services that are making us more vulnerable to scammers and fraudulent activity. Some of you may remember seeing an article much like this in previous newsletters but unfortunately, these cautions and reminders are still necessary. At the Credit Union, we see fraud and suspicious activity daily, so it is important for us to share some of the scams that are continuing to happen even more frequently. It is our wish to keep everyone from becoming a victim and we have picked just a few and we encourage you to be vigilant and cautious.
Scammers are seeing opportunities and are using some of the following conversation starters:
- Calling to say they are with Amazon security, telling you your account has been breached and asking you to purchase gift cards with the funds in your account, then asking for the numbers on the gift cards. They then immediately drain the funds on the cards so that when you attempt to use them, they are of no value. No one from a reputable business would require you to purchase gift cards to “safeguard” your funds or accounts.
- People calling and posing as the IRS or Unemployment office saying your social security number is being used by someone else. They then ask for personal information and or account information to “verify” your identity. State or Federal government offices will never do that.
- Someone calls saying they are from Microsoft, they have detected a problem with your computer, and they need to access the computer to fix the problem. They ask you to let them have control of your device so they can solve any security issues. They will usually ask for personal information and perhaps passwords. These calls are not legitimate.
- If you are on a website and it starts to re-direct you to another site, exit unless you are very certain that the secondary site is valid. It is always best to exit and sign into another site directly.
- Never give out information when someone calls and asks for your credit union or bank account information even if they say they are from the institution. Unless you are waiting for a return call and you can truly identify the caller, do not give out any information. Hang up and call the institution directly.
- Someone calls and tells you that if you let them have access to your phone and/or computer they can help you to detect problems or improve efficiency. This is designed to allow them to gain access to all the private information stored on these devices and to allow them to use your phone in the future for costly foreign calls. Never let anyone have remote access to your devices.
- Use great caution when looking at “pop-up” ads when you are online or on social media. Many of these are fraudulent and designed to obtain your personal information including credit card numbers. You may not get the items you thought you were purchasing, and you may see fraudulent charges appearing on your card. Get out of these ads and look for the items on a reputable site that you are familiar with.
- Check out any site that is asking for donations for the many new causes that have come about with the current community challenges. Research the charities with “Charity Navigator” or the State Attorney General’s office. Be sure your money is going where you intended it to go.
- Be very cautious of “job offers” over the phone and/or the computer. The individual that contacts you offers a “job” that will pay a lot of money and all you need to do is to send a check or give them account access up front for the “start-up” cost and you will be paid back many times over.
- Be cautious of anyone you don’t know asking you for cash in exchange for a much larger check. Chances are the check is not good and your cash will be long-gone.
- Finally, do not fall for the age-old Nigerian fraud schemes telling you of an inheritance or a lottery win that is waiting for you. NEVER send money that they “require” so that your “winnings” can be sent to you.
Please understand that this is only a partial list of the fraud scams we have seen lately. We have members that have been taken advantage of as a result of every one of these items. We encourage you to be extremely cautious and to teach other family members and children not to give out private information over the phone. Also, when you come into the Credit Union to negotiate an out-of-the-ordinary item and we ask questions, please know that we are just watching out for your well-being and verifying that you know where and from whom the item comes. Remember, if it seems too good to be true—it probably is! Be safe and enjoy a wonderful holiday season!