Fraud & ID Theft

1st Community Credit Union strives to provide resources to help consumers learn about fraud and identity theft. Knowing about scams and recent trends in fraud can help you protect yourself from becoming a victim and suffering financial losses.

On this page you will find basic tips for protecting yourself as well as brief descriptions of scams. If you prefer, the Federal Trade Commission has a library of videos that cover the topic of scams, how to recognize them and how to avoid them. Click the image below to go to FTC's YouTube page.

cartoon image of diverse group of people. Identity Theft Happens. 

 

Scam Awareness For Summer 2021:

We are aware of the following scam that seeks to victimize consumers who are already struggling with debt:

  • Scammers are advertising online that they will extend you a loan or help you improve your credit score. Here's how it work: 
    1. You go online and search for a small loan to help you pay some urgent bills or consolidate debt.
    2. You are contacted by someone claiming to be from a Bank or Credit Union.  You may be given a phone number to call to get more information on a loan, or they may offer to start loan proceedings right away.
    3. You are informed that you can receive a loan.  Or you are told that they can lend you $1,000 but you'll need to bring up your credit score. As part of the plan, the bank will pay off your credit card bill.
    4. You are asked to provide (or verify) sensitive information so the 'bank' can pay off your credit card bill.  This could include being asked to provide your credit card number, bank account number, online banking log-in credentials, social security number, etc.
    5. The next day you go online and see that your credit card account has received the promised payment.
    6. Now that the scammer has gained your trust, you are instructed to go to Target or Walmart or Walgreens and put money on a gift card to cover the original credit card payment and pay the bank back. You are told that this will improve your credit score so the 'bank' can issue you a loan. The caller may even keep you on the phone while you buy the gift card. Once the purchase has been made, you are asked to immediately provide the gift card number and PIN to the caller (via text, verbally, or by sending a picture of the card).
    7. The caller tells you that the $1,000 loan funds will appear in your checking or savings account the next day.
    8. The funds are never deposited, PLUS the credit card 'payment' that was made the previous day is rejected for non-sufficient funds because it was paid by the scammer with a false account.
    9. You are now out the money that you put on the gift card. You still owe the full amount on the credit card. You aren't getting a loan, AND the scammer knows enough sensitive information about you to possibly take more funds from your account or steal your identity to rack up even more debt in your name.
Once you've purchased gift cards and given someone else the gift card numbers there is no way to stop the fraud from happening.
Once you've given out your account number or online banking user name and password, the only way to protect yourself from loss of funds is to contact your financial institution to open a new account and close the compromised account.
NEVER, NEVER, EVER give out your online banking user name and password to ANYONE.  Never give out your account number in response to an email or phone call or text that claims they will give you a loan or pay off your debt or deposit money into your account.  Your account number and online banking credentials  should always be kept private and secure to avoid becoming a victim of fraud.
Be smart, be safe, and always contact your financial institutions if you believe that you may have given out information that you should not have disclosed.

The security of today's technology can be overwhelming, especially for family members who may be new to using mobile devices and apps, such as grandparents or young teens. The best way to help your family stay secure is by making security as simple as possible for them. Taking a few steps can have a big impact:

  1. Explain that scammers and con artists have been around for hundreds of years, they are just using the Internet now to try to fool their victims. Give examples of how scammers target their victims by pretending to be a government agency, financial institution, utility company, etc.  Be sure that family members understand the importance of never giving out sensitive personal information, account numbers, passwords, or remote access to their computer.  Explain that the more urgent the message seems (whether it is a text, phone call, or email) the more likely it is a scam. Let your family members know about romantic scams also, explaining that con artists prey on people who are lonely and longing for love by pretending to be their match made in heaven.  Let your loved ones know that they can contact you any time they are unsure about an email or phone call.
  2. When setting up Home Wi-Fi access for anyone who is new to technology, take the time to make sure their wi-fi is password-protected. Consider using a secure form of DNS service that can help stop people from visiting infected websites. For younger family members, restrict websites that you don't want them to have access to.
  3. Help less tech-savvy family members keep their devices and systems updated and current. This makes it harder for scammers and hackers to compromise them. The simplest solution is enabling automatic updates.
  4. Inform family members about the importance of using secure passwords that are unique, and coach them to not use the same password across multiple sites.
  5. Mistakes can happen. Make sure reliable backups are in place and be sure that your loved ones know what to do and who to contact if they fall victim to a scam.

Scams that increased during the pandemic:

  • Due to the Coronavirus, unemployment has increased and consumers are looking for work.  As usual, scammers are taking advantage by sending out fake work-from-home opportunities.  These emails typically contain grammar mistakes and offer very little information about who is hiring and what the job requires, but they always promise a great paycheck.
  • Once a consumer accepts the 'job' they are eased into it by being asked to perform basic errands, eventually leading up to requests to transfer funds from one account to another.  Typically these are stolen funds and the unsuspecting 'employee' is being used as a money mule.
  • Even though the victims of these scams are unaware of the crime they are committing, they can still face large fines and prison time. Remember:  beware of emails with spelling and grammar errors, never trust unusual job offers, and if something doesn't feel right then it probably isn't.
  • If you feel that you have been solicited to be a money mule, contact your local authorities.
  • Emails claiming to come from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), WHO (World Health Organization) and other reputable organizations, with links to spoof websites. Email subjects will likely tout the "newest vaccine" or "most up-to-date COVID-19 news", claims of miracle cures, etc.  Scammers are attempting to leverage the trust vested in those spoofed authorities to trick consumers including clicking links or opening attachments containing malware.
  • Scams related to the upcoming government-issued COVID-19 relief checks.  These phishing scams could come in the form of an email, text, or phone call. The scammers will likely claim that your relief check is ready to electronically deposited as soon as you disclose your account number to the caller, or as soon as you visit a website and enter your account number and other sensitive personal data to "verify" yourself.
  • You can also count on scammers repurposing their go-to phishing emails, texts, or phone calls as they prey on consumers who are likely feeling anxious and scared. These may include versions of the Grandparent Scam or the Fake Charity Donation scam. 
  • In some cases the scammers convinced the victims to give out their account number or their online banking login name and password, or both.
  • In one case the scammers claimed they could make investments for the victim. They coerced the victim to give out the account number and online banking login credentials so the scammers could deposit checks and then transfer money out to make investments.
  • In another case when the scammers were successful in getting the online banking login user name and password from the victim they used online Bill Pay to write 5 checks between $4,000-$5000.
  • Scammers have reportedly sent victims a fraudulent check to deposit via Mobile Deposit in a mobile app, then the victims disclosed their online banking user name and password and the scammers went into the victim's account and used online Bill Pay to send checks to untraceable payees.
  • In other cases the scammers convinced the victims that they needed to repay a debt or an erroneous deposit. In one case the victim who was contacted by scammers claiming to be from Amazon. The scammers convinced the victim that Amazon owed the victim money and they needed the victim's online banking login name and password, as well as the account number, to deposit the money directly into the victim's account.  Then the scammers contacted the victim and claimed they erroneously made the deposit too large.  They convinced the victim that the funds needed to be paid back with gift cards purchased at Best Buy. The victim was instructed to call the scammers immediately upon purchasing the gift cards, and then instructed to provide the scammers with the card numbers of the gift cards.
  • There have been other recent cases in other parts of the country in which victims received a phone call claiming to be from Law Enforcement or a Hospital.  The callers stated that a grandchild or child of the victim had outstanding debt, had been arrested, or had been in an accident and payment was needed immediately to protect the grandchild or child from harm. In these cases the victims were instructed to purchase gift cards from companies such as Home Depot or Best Buy, then call the scammers immediately with the gift card numbers.
  • Scammers are also spoofing the phone numbers of legitimate service providers, such as cable service or internet service, and calling consumers offering alternative services. The victims pick up the phone and think they are talking to their local service provider, but the scammer on the other end of the line has no affiliation with the company whose phone number they are spoofing. The scammer tries to convince victims to send money by promising to improve or expand services in exchange for this 'one-time fee'.
  • Another recent scam is a text message claiming to be coming from a cell phone service provider. The text message is designed to look like a security alert and it warns you that you must validate your account by clicking a link, because if you don't validate then your account access will be disabled. If you fall for this alert and click on the link, you're brought to a very convincing fake website that looks like a popular cell phone provider's login page. You're instructed to sign into your account to 'validate your account security', but if you enter your credentials on this fake website the scammers will have your login information and they will be able to take over your account.
 

Protect Yourself From Fraud and Scams:

  • Never Give Out Sensitive Information: Never give anyone your Online Banking or Mobile Banking/Mobile App user name or password. Keep your account numbers, credit and debit card numbers and PINs, and social security number private and secure. If you receive a phone call, text or email that includes a request for this sort of sensitive personal or financial information, hang up or ignore the call or delete the text or email.
    • If your credit card has been compromised or lost, call 1-800-449-7728 to report it. They will assist you and arrange to issue you a new credit card.
    • If your debit card has been compromised or lost, you may contact 1st CCU at 608-269-8121 or toll-free at 1-888-706-1228 during business hours to report it and to request a new card. We can now print you a new ready-to-use debit card within minutes, so you no longer need to wait up to 3 weeks for your new debit card to arrive in the mail.
    • After business hours, please call 1-800-449-7728 to report a lost or stolen debit card.
  • Pay Attention To Account Activity: You are responsible for monitoring your account activity and notifying your financial institution of suspicious activity or fraudulent charges. Online Banking, Mobile Banking, and AccessPoint Credit Card Account Access are offered free of charge to 1st CCU members, as well as monthly paper statements and eStatements. 1st CCU also offers free E-Alerts for notification of daily account balance, online banking logins, and certain electronic transaction activity. For additional protection, ask a Member Service Representative to place a Password on your account. Once you've placed a secure password on your account you will give the password anytime you request information or transactions on your account in person or over the phone.
  • Inspect Credit Reports Annually: All consumers are entitled to a free copy of their credit report every 12 months from each of the 3 major credit reporting agencies. The ONLY website authorized by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to provide these free credit report copies is www.AnnualCreditReport.com. Consumers without internet access may request their free copies by calling 1-877-322-8228 or send a request by mail to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, PO Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
  • Don't Become A Victim Of Phishing Scams: Always question any suspicious or "official-looking" emails, letters, or phone calls that ask for verification of sensitive information, and never click on links in unexpected or suspicious emails or social media messages. Hang up the phone without giving out any information or allowing access to your information or computer.
  • Protect Your Device: Every consumer who owns a computer, smart phone, tablet, or other internet-enabled device should understand what software and systems they have and configure them securely.
  • Use Strong Passwords: When you use the same User ID and Password across several websites you increase your risk. Use strong, unique passwords and don't recycle the same passwords for multiple online accounts.
  • Inform Others: Tell elderly family members about scams and phishing attacks, even if they don't have internet access. They can still become victims of scams during phone calls and mail if they don't know the warning signs.
  • E-mail is not secure: Never send your personal information via e-mail

    Contact 1st Community Credit Union directly in person or by phone if you have questions about your credit union accounts. If you receive an e-mail or phone call from a business or an individual claiming to be affiliated with 1st Community Credit Union, do not give out any personal information. 1st Community Credit Union will never ask you to verify your personal information through e-mail. Question any suspicious or "official-looking" emails or letters, especially those requesting personal information to reinstate account access, claim a prize, or verify information. Never enter any of your Credit Union account numbers in response to an e-mail you receive.
  • Never respond to job offers you receive via unsolicited e-mail: This is one of the most prevalent scams in the past couple of years.
  • If you receive an unsolicited check in the mail, bring it directly to 1st CCU, along with a copy of any correspondence that accompanies the check. We will help you determine if the check is fraudulent.
  • If throwing away documents that contain personal, financial, and sensitive information, ALWAYS shred them.

NOTE: If you receive an email that claims to be from 1st Community Credit Union asking you to click on a link and enter personal information, please do not respond to the email and never give out your account number, social security number, or other personal information by email or telephone.


OTHER SCAMS AND FRAUD TRENDS

  • Quickbooks/Payroll Client Scams: Victims receive an email claiming to be sent from the domain payrollservices.intuit.com.  If you have received an email communication that you believe is from Intuit, you may be able to use the information below to determine if it is legitimate. Intuit uses several different email addresses to communicate to its customers:
    • Payments@intuit.com - This address is used to communicate merchant account changes or notices. Attachments of case details may be included.
    • PSD_iCareTeam@intuit.com - This address may be used by the merchant services customer care team to communicate information on a case-by-case basis.
    • BusinessServices@intuit.com - This address is used to communicate approval, user ID, and password reset information from Intuit's secure network.
    • notification@email.merchancenter.intuit.com - This address is used to provide notifications about your merchant services account.
    • paymentnotification@email.paymentsolutions.intuit.com - This address is used to notify you of payments and deposits for your merchant services account.
    • intuit@eq.intuit.com - This address is used to communicate non-critical notifications and updates from Intuit.
    If you ever have any doubts about an email message you believe is from Intuit, due to the nature of email security, do not open the message until you are able to confirm its legitimacy.
    The image below is a screenshot of the scam email, claiming to be sent by IntuitPayrollServices@payrollservices.intuit.com.
    screenshot of Intuit Payroll Services scam email with email initiating from IntuitPayrollServices@payrollservices.intuit.com
  • IRS Scam: A scammer falsely claims to be with the Internal Revenue Service and contacts you via phone or email to demand immediate payment on back taxes they claim you owe. They may threaten legal action, jail time, deportation or revocation of your driver's license.
  • Payday Lender Scam: Scammer calls you attempting to collect on an old Payday Loan from years ago. This is a phishing phone call attempting to scare you into giving out account numbers, etc.
  • Zoom Installer Scam:  Working from home during the Coronavirus pandemic resulted in many consumers downloading Zoom. The increased usage of Zoom resulted in scammers sending out phishing emails with links to download the latest version of Zoom, but when a consumer clicks on the link and goes to a spoof website to download, they are also downloading a remote access trojan (RAT) to their computer. This RAT gives cybercriminals the ability to observe everything you do on your computer: keylogging, recording video calls, and taking screenshots - all of which can be used to steal your sensitive information.  If you need to download an update, don't click on links in an email. Go directly to the official website. 
  • Computer Tech Support Or Computer Takeover Scam: Victim is informed via email or phone that their computer is infected, and the scammer requests remote access to fix the problem. OR, victim receives an email with an attachment or link claiming to contain the latest software upgrade but it is really malware. After remote access is enabled or the attachment is opened, the computer screen goes black. This scam may involve a caller who refuses to give you back control of your own computer unless you give them your debit or credit card number. Giving out your card number to these scammers results in charges to your card in various amounts, and you are liable for these charges and the loss of funds.

    A variation of the above scam involves a virus infecting your computer and installing a fake message with a government agency seal. The virus locks the screen and claims the computer owner has illegally downloaded something, followed by a demand for money to unlock the computer. A twist to this scam has also involved the scammers taking over your computer's webcam and snapping a photo of you, claiming that they will place the photo on a fake web page.
  • Microsoft Scam: Victim receives an email or a phone call claiming to have an installer attachment that will give PC owners the latest upgrade. If you click on the attachment it may install a ransomware variant, displaying a message that you owner's PC files have been encrypted and will stay that way unless the consumer pays a ransom. If you don't know who has sent an email do not click any links or open attachments.
  • Card Services Scam: A phone call from a local phone number claiming to be card services wants to discuss your rate. Never give out your card number or other information to unsolicited callers.
  • ATM Skimming Devices: ATM Skimmers are card readers installed by fraudsters who tamper with ATM machines. The skimmer reads the data off your card's magnetic strip and stores the data on the skimmer, then the fraudster comes back to retrieve the skimmer.

    When approaching an ATM, look for signs of tampering: a keyboard that doesn't feel right (too thick or too loose), the appearance of something sticking out of the card reader or something temporarily attached on top of the normal card reader (card reader feels loose, sticky tape residue, etc), a brochure holder that looks out of place (fraudsters have been known to conceal hidden cameras inside fake brochure holders in order to film their victims' PIN entry).

    If something doesn't seem right about the ATM, walk away and find another ATM. Avoid ATMs in isolated areas, where a thief installing a skimming device would be relatively undetected.

    Be aware of anyone who appears to be looking over your shoulder. Cover your hand when entering your PIN.

    There are some scammers who insert a clear plastic "sleeve" or loop inside the card reader. When a cardholder comes along and inserts their card into the slot the card gets stuck. The scammer then comes along, posing as a helpful bystander, an ATM repairman, or even a police investigator. The scammer convinces you to try your PIN while they observe, then they come up with a story that convinces you to leave the card in the machine or leave the card with them for "evidence". Never use your PIN when others are watching, and if you are unable to retrieve your card for any reason please remain at the machine and use a cell phone to call the telephone assistance number listed on the ATM.

    When entering your PIN, always cover the keypad with your other hand.

    Ignore the hoax emails and social media posts you may have seen about entering your PIN number backwards if you are in distress at an ATM. This is a myth; ATMs do not have that capability.
  • Escrow Check Scam: This scam involves an unsolicited check showing up in the mail. Always beware of unsolicited cashiers checks you receive from unknown sources, as they almost always fake. You are responsible for the checks you deposit into your account.
  • Chase Card Scam: This scam was an email that referenced a recent credit card payment and encourage you to open a zipped attachment. This email could contain a virus.
  • Utility Company Phone Scam: Callers claiming to be from the local utility company threaten to turn off electricity or natural gas service if they are not paid immediately. Scammers may even manipulate Caller ID to look like they are calling from the utility company.
  • Phishing Email/Fake Website Scam: Scammers are use a website with a logo and design similar to a company or federal organization in a phishing scam, attempting to convince consumers to provide sensitive information or send money.
  • Card Problem Phishing Text/Email: Scammers send a message claiming to be from a bank or credit union. The message claims that there is a problem with your credit card or debit card. Fraudulent notifications of this kind are typically sent out to random lists of phone numbers or emails and the scammers are hoping you will call them back and disclose your credit or debit card number.
  • Grandparent Scam: The grandparent scam has been around for several years. Scammers peruse social networking sites to find out personal information about their target, then use the internet or a stolen cell phone to contact an elderly family member and ask for funds to be wired for bail, emergency medical expenses, etc. This type of scam commonly occurs around the time of Spring Break. Common scenarios can include:
    • A grandparent receives a scam call or email from a "grandchild", often late at night or early in the morning. The caller claiming to be their grandchild urgently explains he/she has gotten into a bad situation (car accident, arrested for drugs, being mugged) and needs money wired immediately. The caller also insists they don't want their parents to be notified.
    • Sometimes a phony 'official' makes the fraudulent call, claiming to be a police officer, lawyer, or hospital doctor or nurse and speaking on behalf of the grandchild, requesting funds be wired.
    • Military families can also be victimized; a con artist will contact a soldier's family and claim that a problem has come up during military leave that requires money to be wired.
    • Older consumers are urged to be aware of this type of scam, and resist the pressure to act quickly. If you receive this call, try to contact your grandchild or another family member to determine whether or not the call is legitimate. Be aware that if Facebook privacy settings aren't high enough scammers can often get access to personal information that a grandparent might use to verify their grandchild's identity, including the name of a childhood pet, a nickname, siblings' names, home address or the college they attend, etc. Never wire money based on a request made over the phone or in an email.
    • Younger consumers can help prevent grandparents from becoming victims to this scam by increasing privacy settings on social networking sites, leaving several contact numbers to allow family to check in should there be some concern, and password-protecting smartphones.

Other Common Scams Include:

  • Phishing phone calls or emails asking you to confirm account numbers or other personal information. These scams try to create a sense of urgency by claiming that there is a problem with your payroll, debit or credit card, tax return, automatic payment, etc.
  • Smishing: Fake text messages blasted to every cell phone within one area
  • Fake Smartphone Apps
  • Free Trial Scams
  • Fake charity or holiday-related websites
  • Fake delivery invoices
  • Fake Facebook "New Friend Request" messages/emails
  • Holiday e-cards laden with computer viruses
  • Job-related email scams
  • Online Romance scams
  • Auction site fraud: You list an item for sale and buyer attempts to grossly overpay by sending you a large cashiers check and asking you to keep a portion and wire the remaining funds to someone else
  • Password theft [Change your passwords frequently!]
  • E-mail scams asking for verification of personal info (phishing, vishing, smishing, etc.)


INFORM OTHERS

It is important to share information on scams with older family members, college students, and friends. Scammers prefer to prey on the elderly and young people who are managing their own finances for the first time, often resorting to harassment if they feel it will get them the information they desire. Work together to come up with a plan of what to say and do if they are contacted with requests for sensitive information.


INSPECT YOUR CREDIT REPORT AT ANNUALCREDITREPORT.COM

You may request a free credit report to review your credit accounts and identify any inaccuracies. The federal Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act) requires each of the three consumer reporting companies to provide a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. Order your free credit report online or call 877-322-8228. There are other websites that are frequently advertised on television that claim to be your source for free credit reports, however the AnnualCreditReport.com site is the ONLY source recommended by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

If you receive an e-mail or a pop-up ad that claims to be affiliated with the Annual Credit Report Request Service authorized by the FACT Act, do not reply and do not click on any link in the message. Also be wary of companies that make claims regarding Credit Repair.