Don't Get Hooked - Get SMART!
Every day, American consumers receive offers that just sound too good to be true. In the past, these offers came through the mail or by telephone, but now the con artists and swindlers have found another avenue to pitch their frauds...the Internet. The on-line scams know no national borders or boundaries; they respect no investigative jurisdictions. But, as with all scammers, they have one objective - to separate you from your money!
The following is a list of the most common frauds that the credit union sees on a daily basis. Be aware of these scams and save yourself from becoming a victim.
Keeping Our Members Safe
1. NEVER give your personal information out through email or text on mobile devices. If you contact us by phone, we do ask for identifying information to confirm who you are, but we DO NOT ever contact you, asking for this information.
Your personal information includes account numbers, social security number, passwords, PIN numbers, or credit card security codes. If you are asked to verify any of these through email, text or a call which you did not initiate, do not fall for it. Contact your financial institution directly to confirm any attempts to gain information from you.
2. KEEP YOUR PC ANTIVIRUS PROGRAMS UPDATED AND CURRENT. Any pc that utilizes the internet should have an ongoing virus program in place. McAfee, Kaspersky are a few of the well known products. Make sure your program is set up to perform regular updates and scans. In addition to antivirus programs, we also recommend malware programs such as those offered through Malwarebytes. This will add additional protection to your pc.
3. Contact Credit Union of Denver immediately at 303.239.1150 if you suspect any fraudulent or suspicious activity on your own account. And Forward any suspicious emails asking for your financial information or asking you to click on a link to verify financial information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. If there is suspected fraudulent activity on your credit card, you may be contacted by a representative from Credit Union of Denver's card processor, PSCU. The call will come from 888.918.7313 and the representative who contacts you will NOT ask you to give them any information about your card, but will ony verify any suspicious transactions. If any transaction is not authorized by you, your card will be immediately deactivated, and you will be directed to call C•U•D directly to order a new card. If you are suspicious of any call you receive from C•U•D or PSCU, DO NOT provide any information to the caller, hang up and call us directly at 303.239.1150 or 800.279.3288 to verify that the call was legitimate.
Text Message Scams!
Text message scams are being sent to both members and nonmembers. The texts are part of a phishing scam, where information seems to come from a legitimate organization, but a person is asked for personal financial information that the institutions should already have. Scammers normally attempt to contact potential victims through e-mail and phone calls, but the texts, which have grown in popularity over the last few years, have become more commonplace. The economic downturn could be part of the reason why scams are happening more than before. "These scammers know people are concerned about their personal finances and they prey on that fear," he said. "The last thing people need right now is trouble with their bank account or their credit cards. And they know people are more likely to respond during these times because they're already struggling." Please keep in mind the credit union will not send you an email or text message, nor will we ask for your information as we already have it.
Emergency scams continue to victimize consumers and separate them from their money. An emergency scam is where an individual is contacted via telephone, the internet or U.S. Mail asking for money to be wired to them immediately for assistance or to assist a family member or friend in trouble. A version of this is known as the Grandparent Scam. The District Attorney’s Office has distributed warnings about this in the past, but wanted to warn consumers again about this scam because consumers are still falling victim to the scam.
Emergency scams tug at the emotions of consumers. The caller or sender of the message appeals to the emotions of the victim so that they feel compelled to help immediately by sending money. The con artists frequently claim to be their grandchild and urgently request money to be sent to cover medical expenses from an accident or bail money from a recent arrest. The con artists sound very convincing. Con artist have also hacked into Facebook or e-mail accounts and then target friends or family members with an urgent request for help.
If you receive a call or message with an urgent request for help, don’t panic. Obtain contact information and details about the situation.
Then, independently verify the facts; victims will usually learn that it is a hoax. Take the following steps to protect yourself:
Obtain as many facts about the situation as possible, to include a call back number.
Ask the caller or sender questions that only the family member or friend in trouble would know.
Call a family member or friend at a number you know is good for them to verify the whereabouts of the person allegedly in trouble.
Do not provide the caller or sender with any of your personal identifying information or account numbers.
Do not feel pressured to act immediately.
Most importantly, do not send or wire any money until you are certain the need for help is real. If you haven’t confirmed it is real, then it probably isn’t.
If you become a victim of this type of fraud, file a report with your local law enforcement agency. The District Attorney’s Consumer Protection Line provides assistance to victims of crime and answers questions on white collar crime issues. If you have a question or need assistance, call 720-874-8547.
Prizes and Sweepstake Fraud
- Never pay to play.
- Don't believe that you have to give the company money for taxes on your prize. It's up to you to declare your prize winnings when you file your income taxes.
- Be cautious about emails for contests and sweepstakes. Many unsolicited emails are fraudulent.
- Be on guard for imposters. Some con artists use company names that are identical or very similar to well-known, legitimate sweepstakes operators.
- Be wary of offers to send you an 'advance' on your 'winnings.' Some con artists use this ploy to build trust and get money from your bank. They send you a check for part of your 'winnings,' instructing you to deposit it and then wire payment to them for taxes, bonding, or some other phony purpose. After you wire the money, the check that you deposited finally bounces because it turned out to be a fake. Now the crooks have your payment, and you're left owing your bank the amount that you withdrew.
- Be especially cautious about foreign sweepstakes companies. Many fraudulent sweepstakes companies that target the U.S. are located in Canada or other countries, which makes it more difficult for law enforcement to pursue them.
Secret Shopper Scams
- Legitimate secret shopper companies generally do not advertise for jobs in a newspaper's classified section or through unsolicited emails.
- Don't trust a 'money-back guarantee.' If the ad was placed by a con artist, the guarantee will be worthless.
- Never pay a fee to apply or access secret shopping opportunities.
- Be wary of companies located outside of the U.S., such as Canada.
- NEVER accept a job that requires you to cash a check and wire money. No legitimate mystery-shopper service would ever make you do this.
- ALWAYS check with the Better Business Bureau on any business offering this sort of employment.
Job/Work from Home Scams
The ad says you can make lots of money working from the comfort of your home. But if this were true, wouldn't everyone be working from home?
- Know who you are dealing with. The company may not be offering to employ you directly, only to sell you training and materials.
- Be cautious about emails offering work-at-home opportunities.
- Don't pay a fee upfront for employment agencies. Most legitimate employment agencies don't charge unless they actually succeed in getting you a job and often it's the employer who pays the fee.
- Be wary of offers to send you an 'advance' on your 'pay.' Some con artists use this ploy to build trust and get money from your bank. After they send you a check and you deposit it, they tell you that you were mistakenly paid the wrong amount or that you need to return a portion of the payment for some other reason. After you return the money, the check that you deposited bounces and you're left owing your bank the amount that you withdrew.
Even with knowledge at hand, the con artists change their tactics every day and if you happen to fall victim, please notify credit union personnel immediately. You can also help us combat check fraud by calling our staff to validate the existence of funds in a particular account. However, that does not insure that the check is 'good.' Whether a check is 'good' or 'bad' will not be known until it 'clears.'
Available funds are not cleared funds. 'Available' funds are funds your bank has made available to you against your deposit. This does not mean the check has 'cleared.' Checks have 'cleared' when the financial institution on which the check was written has surrendered funds to the financial institution where the funds were deposited. This process can take up to several weeks, and in some cases, longer.
If you are in doubt as to whether a check is real or fake, we would be happy to send it through the collection process for you to verify. This process can take longer, but it will save you from becoming a victim of a fraud. And please note: If you deposit an item without checking with us first and it is returned as counterfeit or otherwise, at any point in time, Credit Union of Denver will debit your account and will look to your for payment.
The following are a few links for additional information on Scams, Fraud and ID Theft:
- Are you at risk for ID Theft? Take our QUIZ to see.
- Consumer Protection
- Federal Trade Commission - ID Theft
- OnGuard Online
- ATM Safeguard Tips
REMEMBER...IF IT'S TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT PROBABLY IS!