Fraud Awareness Resources
We’ve compiled links and information on some of the scams that thieves use to steal your identity and trick you out of your money. We encourage you to visit the links to stay up-to-date and minimize your risks. They contain a wealth of information to help you become aware of the numerous ways that “scammers” can turn you into a victim. Remember, always be very careful with your personal information.
- Federal Trade Commission
- NCUA Fraud Prevention Center
- Free Credit Reports
- Michigan Attorney General Consumer Alerts
Please remember, FECCCU will not ask for your personal identification or financial information via email. If you receive any such email request, DO NOT click on any link or enter any information and notify us immediately at 906-632-4210 or 800-350-6760.
Any email that purports to be from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and asks for account information should be considered a fraudulent attempt to obtain personal account data for an illegal purpose.
- You have not won the lottery in Spain, the Netherlands, Canada or anywhere else. You didn’t buy a ticket did you?
- The IRS is not electronically monitoring you.
- The jury duty clerk never calls for your Social Security Number.
- Banks and credit card companies do not email you to verify your information.
It is of prime importance to know the scams that thieves use to trick you into giving personal information. Once they have your information, they steal your identity.
Phishing occurs when someone impersonates your financial institution, Internet service provider, credit card company, or some other entity and sends a bogus email requesting your personal financial information (such as account number, credit card number, Social Security number, passwords, etc.). The email will probably warn you of a serious problem that requires your immediate attention. It may use phrases like “Immediate attention required,” or “Please contact us immediately about your account,” or “You must update your account information immediately to maintain your account with us.”
Phishing emails look very official and often contain graphics and/or logos that are lifted from a legitimate company’s web site. Because these emails look official, many people believe that they must respond to the request for information. The email may include a link to what appears to be a legitimate web site. In reality, you’re redirected to a phony web site that may look exactly like the web site of your financial institution, credit card company, etc. You’re asked to provide personal information, which is then used by the thieves to gain access to your existing accounts and credit cards so they can loot your checking account or run up bills on your credit cards.
Here are some tips to help you avoid falling victim to phishing scams:
- FECCCU, other financial institutions, or any other legitimate company will not send you an email asking for your personal information. If you believe the email (or phone call) may be legitimate, contact the business yourself by calling the company back using a phone number from a statement or from the telephone book (not a phone number the person who is calling gives you). You may check an organization’s website by typing its URL in the address line, rather than cutting and pasting it.
- A financial institution will not ask you via email to verify your ATM PIN or Social Security number. FECCCU will never ‘call you’ and ask for this information. We do have procedures in place to verify your identity when ‘you call us’. This is for your protection.
- Do not click on any links and do not respond to any email that asks for your personal information. Delete suspicious emails.
- Do not disclose any personal information (such as credit card numbers, Social Security number, birth date, passwords, account numbers, etc) to an unsolicited source, whether by email, phone, online or mail.
- Install a firewall as your first line of defense. This is the primary block between you and other computers on the Internet. Also install, run, and update antivirus and antispyware programs.
- Ignore online pop-up windows asking for personal information, no matter how official they may look.
- Review all your financial statements regularly for accuracy.
Unlike phishing, which uses email spam to deliver fake messages, pharming operates through fake web sites. Pharming uses computer software, such as crimeware, malware, or spyware, to collect personal information from your computer and deliver it back to the fraudsters. When you attempt to log onto a legitimate web site, you are automatically redirected to a fraudulent authentic-looking, but bogus site. Once you’re transferred to the fake site and log into your account, the criminals collect passwords, credit card numbers, and other private information for the purpose of committing identity theft. Since little or no participation on your part is necessary, and the redirect happens behind the scenes, pharming is extremely difficult to detect.
Online users are urged to watch for uncommon log-in processes that don’t look the same as the legitimate site. Some fraudulent sites will ask users for information such as a Social Security number that are not normally required.
Vishing / Caller ID Spoofing
Vishing mimics phishing by trying to trap you into divulging your account numbers. But instead of being phished in an email message, you may receive a telephone call from an automated random dialer, and the voice on the other end of the line may tell you that your credit card has been used illegally. You’re then asked to dial a fake 1-800 number with another voice that asks you to confirm your account details and credit card number.
All this is possible because of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), the technology that makes inexpensive and anonymous Internet calling possible. While there are legitimate reasons to disguise a phone number on caller ID, consumers now have a more difficult time determining a fraudulent call from a valid contact.
It can be hard to determine when you are the target of a vishing scam and when your credit card provider is making a genuine attempt to contact you because of a problem with your account. The safe practice is to hang up, even if the person claims to be from your credit card provider. Then, call the customer service number on the back of your card to verify that the call was legitimate. If it was, customer service will know. The most important thing to remember, however, is to never give any personal or financial information over the phone if you didn’t initiate contact.
With the advancement of computer technology, it has become easier for criminals to create counterfeit checks. This is often done with a simple desktop publishing software or a color copier. Some counterfeiters are better than others, and sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between a legitimate and counterfeit check. Here are some “red flags” to look for to identify a counterfeit check:
- The check lacks perforations
- The check number is missing, or if more than one check is present, the check number does not change
- The font type varies on different areas of the check
- Additions to the check (i.e. phone numbers) may be hand written
- The maker’s address is missing
- The drawee’s bank address is missing
- The number coding on the bottom of the check is shiny. Genuine magnetic ink appears dull and non-glossy
- The check number on the bottom of the check does not match the check number elsewhere on the check
- The name of the payee appears to have been printed by a typewriter
- The word VOID appears across the check
Counterfeit checks are frequently used to pay for purchases made on the Internet. In this type of scam, the purchaser tells the seller that they will send a Cashier’s Check for the purchase price, including shipping costs. Frequently, the purchaser will also say that since the shipping costs aren’t known at that time, they will send more than enough money to cover this cost. The purchaser asks the seller to wire the excess funds back once they receive the check and ship the goods.
Unfortunately, when the seller realizes that the Cashier’s Check is fraudulent, they will not only be out their merchandise and the shipping charge, but also the money that they wired back to the seller prior to finding out the check is bad.
It is important to keep in mind that under the law, you are responsible for the checks and money orders you deposit because you are in the best position to determine how risky the transaction is. When a check or money order bounces, you owe your financial institution the money you withdrew.
Congratulations! You’ve won a major prize or a large amount of money. All you have to do to collect is pay the taxes and/or fees on your winnings. Sound too good to be true? It is!
You’re contacted about the fact that you may have won or have already won a particular prize via email, the U.S. Mail, or over the phone. But, there’s a catch . . . in order for you to receive your winnings, you have to pay some taxes or fees up front. Or, they claim they’ll help you take care of this technicality by sending you a cashier’s check for the amount of the taxes/fees, and all you have to do is cash it and return the money either by the issue of another cashier’s check or wire transfer.
While the checks may look legitimate, they prove to be counterfeit. The issuing bank, routing number and/or account number aren’t valid. The victims end up having to repay their financial institution the thousands of dollars they withdrew against the bad check. Just because you can withdraw the money from the financial institution does not mean the check is good, even if it is a Cashier’s Check.
There is no reason for someone who is giving you money to ask you to wire money back – that is a clear sign of a scam. Also, if it’s a real sweepstakes or lottery, you’ll pay taxes directly to the IRS.