How to Avoid Common Scams

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With so many of us staying at home and being online more than usual, scammers have more opportunity than ever to take advantage of people and try to steal their information. We care about your safety and would like to share some information about the most common scams happening right now.

  1. IRS Imposters & Social Security Swindlers

Making ends meet has been stressful for many. That stress is only magnified when you get a call from the IRS or Social Security stating you owe them money and have a warrant out for your arrest. They need you to comply by giving them all of your personal and banking info.

This sounds scary, but it’s all a lie. Scammers know that the easiest way to get someone to comply is to threaten legal action if they don’t. The IRS & Social Security would never call you directly, nor would they EVER ask you for your social security number or banking information.

  1. Stimulus Scammers

With the first round of stimulus money starting to dry up, a lot of us are left wondering, “Are we going to get any more?” Fraudsters are aware of this anticipation and are taking advantage.

You may receive a check in the mail with instructions to send part of it back for taxes. Be aware that this is a common scam currently. Notify us or submit a complaint to the FTC if anyone claiming to work with stimulus checks asks you for money or information.

As of the time of this article, there is still no report of another approved stimulus check. The Federal Trade Commission has assembled some guidelines here for how to spot these scams.

  1. Remote Deposit Rip-offs

Scammers have conned members into giving away their information by offering a check they can deposit directly into their account. They may say it’s for a loan or a free assistance check.

Once you’re properly enticed by their offer of extra funds, they will then ask for one small thing in return: Your online banking information. They explain the fastest and most effective way to send the check is electronically, using Mobile Check Deposit in your online banking.

In truth, no legitimate company would ever ask to personally log into your online banking.

  1. Sweepstakes Shakedowns

Say you receive a phone call or email stating that you have won a large sum of prize money from a sweepstakes. You might believe things are finally turning around for you during a difficult time, but be wary of anyone reaching out to you claiming that you’ve won something.

Scammers commonly use promises of reward to persuade you to follow instructions that are ultimately designed to steal your money and information. If anyone asks you for your banking information or money in advance, they are a scammer. If someone claims they are sending a check and they need you to cash it and send a portion back, they are a scammer.

  1. Romance Racket

Some scammers have figured out how to turn the distant communication of online dating into cash. Online romance scams are nothing new, but they have seemed to accelerate, as now it’s more acceptable than ever to avoid meeting in person.

If someone says that they live abroad and are asking for gifts or money (scammers will often ask for wired funds or gift cards), even if they say it’s for moving expenses to be closer to you and take the relationship offline, they may not be who they say they are. For more information, read this article about how romance scams operate.

  1. Collection Deception

Some members have received calls from “collections agencies” claiming the member owes money on a payday loan they don’t remember taking out. As with every other situation, if something seems fishy DO NOT give away personal info or agree to send money.

  1. Smishing, Phishing, Vishing

Many of the scams listed above are a type of phishing, or an attempt to gain information through fraudulent means. The act can be attempted via emails, phone calls (also known as “vishing”), or SMS text messages (“smishing”).

If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. The key is to always remain skeptical. Do not click any links you don’t recognize or give info to someone you don’t know.

You may even receive a message that states they are a representative of the credit union. While we do occasionally reach out to our members via text, we will not ask for personal information such as account numbers, pins, or online banking credentials. If you receive texts or calls that do ask for that, please call our main line at (260)432-3433 and select option 3 to speak with our fraud specialists.