Each year, millions of reports about fraud are filed, and victims lose billions of dollars because of fraud-related crimes. With fraud becoming more rampant, it is essential to stay informed and take actions to protect yourself and your family against fraud and scams. It’s time to level up and become a pro at spotting common warning signs that you may be dealing with fraud:
1. There is a problem or prize involved.
Example: You get notified that you’ve won a lottery or contest and are told to claim a prize. In recent years publishers clearing house scams are growing. If you are told you won a prize and personal information is needed to claim the prize do not engage, it is very likely a scam.
2. You’re confronted with an urgent request.
Scammers often pressure victims into making a quick decision or action, leading to poor judgement. Sometimes they can even pretend to be a family member. Before doing anything take the time to do your research! If the call does seem to be from someone you know, hang up and call them directly to make sure.
3. Unexpected charges appear on your bank accounts.
If a fraudster gains unauthorized access to your account information, they may swipe your debit or credit card for a purchase you did not make.
4. You receive an unexpected check or a credit card you didn’t apply for.
The check may arrive by registered mail or another delivery method, sometimes requiring a signature, with no instructions. Do not cash the check!
5. You’re asked to verify sensitive information over the phone.
Example: A scammer asks for your social security number, address, phone number, work history, loan numbers, etc. Please remember Arbor will never ask for your account number or passwords over the phone. If you are ever in doubt hang up and call us back directly to confirm legitimacy.
6. Unfamiliar accounts or inaccurate information appear on your credit report.
You are eligible for a free yearly credit checkup, which includes reviewing your credit report.
7. You’re threatened with severe consequences if you don’t comply with the scammer.
You may be told if you don’t deposit a check for the scammer, you will face jail time.
8. You receive an email that doesn’t look quite right.
Pay close attention to the reply address to ensure legitimacy, and never click on links in suspicious emails.
9. It seems too good to be true.
If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is a scam.
10. You’re asked to pay for something in advance, especially via an unusual payment method, like cryptocurrency, gift cards, or money wires.
Scams can come in several different forms and are getting increasingly sophisticated, making it vital to be alert and protect yourself from falling victim. Ryan Holmes, Director of Risk Management, says, “With the advent of COVID and the impact the pandemic has had, the fraud landscape has really accelerated. With so many fraud scams ongoing, one thing we want members to understand is that Arbor Financial is here for them. We are always willing to explain how these schemes work and to help with your unique situation. Fraud can result in steep losses and stolen identities, so it’s always best to identity these scams as quickly as possible.”
Here’s some frequent scams to be aware of:
• A fraudster sends you a counterfeit check and tells you to deposit it in your bank account, then wire part of the sum back to them or purchase gift cards to send back. Because the check is fake, the victim must pay their financial institution the amount of the check, on top of any wired money. Some scenarios include a car wrap scam.
• A fraudster sends a text alert – appearing to come from a financial institution - warning members of suspicious transactions, loan approvals or applications. If you respond to the text, the fraudster may call you from a spoofed number, claiming to be from a fraud department, and ask for your online banking username or a passcode. After obtaining this information, the fraudster uses it to log in to your account and gain access to sensitive information.
Be wary of texts or calls that appear to be from Arbor Financial. If you are in question of any communication you receive seemingly from Arbor Financial, give us a call at 269.375.6702. Please remember, we will never ask for your account number or password over the phone.
• 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.
• Phishing scams can come in the form of emails and text messages, appearing they are from a company or individual you know or trust, and often tell a false story to convince you to open a link or attachment. 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. Remember to always hoover over the replay address or check the phone number carefully to ensure it is accurate. Remember if something seems to good to be true, it probably is.
• COVID-19 scams: Fraudsters continue to try and scam people using many tools and by following news headlines to adapt their message. According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), consumers should be on the lookout for these signs of vaccine scams:
* Requests that you pay out of pocket to receive a shot or get a vaccine.
Ads for vaccines on websites, social media posts, emails, or phone calls.
Offers to sell or ship doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
Stay up to date on the most recent scams, as well as how to report scams, with the FTC by clicking here. If you suspect you may have fallen victim to identity theft, you should immediately:
1. Contact the three major credit bureaus and request a fraud alert be placed on your credit report.
2. Call Arbor Financial Credit Union at 269.375.6702 and ask for Membership Services.