Recognizing and Avoiding Fraud
Fraudsters are using several different sophisticated tactics to target and scam victims, so it is vital to stay alert. Here are a couple of tips to get you started:
- Monitor your account activity regularly for any unusual activity.
- Sign up for real-time account alerts via email, text, online banking, or pushed through our mobile banking app.
- Never share your bank account, credit card, or Social Security information with anyone who contacts you over the phone. If someone requests remote access to your computer or phone, hang up.
- If something doesn’t seem right, end all communication. Fraudsters want you to make an impulsive decision, so be sure to do your research if you’re unsure of the legitimacy of communication.
- Never open unexpected attachments or links in emails and texts.
- Be cautious when making online transactions or with unknown third parties.
Types of Scams
Phishing & Smishing Scams
Phishing scams can come in the form of emails, while smishing scams are sent via text message. Both often appear they are from a company or individual you know or trust and can tell a false story to convince you to open a link or attachment. These types of scams can be used to steal personal information, like credit card numbers, PINs, or passwords. They may include claims of suspicious activity, a problem with your payment information, or eligibility for a government refund.
Stay informed on the most recent scams through the Federal Trade Commission. If you suspect that you have received a phishing attempt:
- Do not open any attachments, click on any links, or reply
- Report and delete it
IRS & Tax Scams
Often, fraudsters will use regular mail, telephone, or email for various scams related to the IRS, taxes, and unemployment benefits. Remember, the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text, or social media channels to request personal or financial information. Stay up-to-date on the latest scams by reading the IRS’ Tax Scams/Consumer Alerts.
Some scams targeting taxpayers include:
- Social security number scams with claims of being able to suspend or cancel the victim's SSN
- Identity theft and unemployment benefits
- IRS-Impersonation telephone scams
Fake Check Scams
Fake checks are used in many different scams. Some include:
- Secret/mystery shopping: Scammers will pretend to hire someone as a mystery shopper, telling them that their first assignment is to evaluate a retailer that sells gift cards or money orders. The mystery shopper receives a check with instructions to deposit it, and then wire the money to someone else, or purchase gift cards. Once a transaction of this kind happens, the scammer stops communicating.
- Car wrap decals: Scammers promise easy money if you shrink-wrap your car with ads for brands, such as Pepsi or Red Bull, and send a fake check to be deposited for decal installation through a non-existent company.
- Claiming prizes: Scammers send "winners" fake checks and are told to send money back to cover taxes, shipping & handling expenses, or other fees. Legitimate sweepstakes do not work like this.
- Overpayment claims: Scammers may purchase something from you online, claim to have accidentally sent a check for too much, and ask you to refund the balance.
Spoofing is when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity. Scammers often use neighbor spoofing so it appears that an incoming call is coming from a local number, or spoof a number from a company or a government agency that you may already know and trust. If you answer, they use scam scripts to try to steal your money or valuable personal information, which can be used in fraudulent activity.
You may not be able to tell right away if an incoming call is spoofed. Be extremely careful about responding to any request for personal identifying information.
- Don't answer calls from unknown numbers. If you answer such a call, hang up immediately.
- If you answer the phone and the caller - or a recording - asks you to hit a button to stop getting the calls, you should just hang up. Scammers often use this trick to identify potential targets.
- Do not respond to any questions, especially those that can be answered with "Yes" or "No."
- Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother's maiden names, passwords or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious.
- If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book, or on the company's or government agency's website to verify the authenticity of the request. You will usually get a written statement in the mail before you get a phone call from a legitimate source, particularly if the caller is asking for a payment.
- Use caution if you are being pressured for information immediately.
- If you have a voice mail account with your phone service, be sure to set a password for it. Some voicemail services are preset to allow access if you call in from your own phone number. A hacker could spoof your home phone number and gain access to your voice mail if you do not set a password.
- The FCC allows phone companies to block robocalls by default based on reasonable analytics. More information about robocall blocking is available at fcc.gov/robocalls.
Your Sensitive Information
Be suspicious if you are contacted for account information. Circle Federal Credit Union will never initiate a request for sensitive information via phone, email, or text message. This information includes, but is not limited to:
- Social security number
- Secure access codes
- Account number
- Member number
- PIN number
- Credit or Debit card numer
What To Do if You Become a Victim
- Contact Circle Federal Credit Union at 269-684-6005 and ask for a Member Service Representative.
- Visit IdentityTheft.gov - IdentityTheft.gov is a website operated by the Federal Trade Commission. By contacting the FTC, you can submit a report and start building an action plan to recover your identity. You can also contact them at 877-438-4338.
- Contact the three major credit bureaus and request a fraud alert be placed on your credit report
- Equifax: 800-525-6285
- Experian: 888-397-3742
- TransUnion: 800-680-7289
- Contact your Local Police Department to issue a police report of identity theft.