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With any possible fraud attempt, do not panic -- breathe -- do not act in the heat of the moment; give us a call or call a trusted family member or friend to consult with.
TIPS TO KEEP YOUR IDENTITY INFORMATION SAFE
- If you do not have to hand over your debit or credit card for a purchase, don't. This includes online... using secure, encrypted, and reputable payment providers such as PayPal who redact and encrypt payment information helps keep your cards' information secure online. If avoidable, do not upload your card to websites, apps, or make purchases at businesses that you do not think has secure transaction processing. Always look for a closed padlock symbol next to the website address on the checkout page specifically; if you do not see a closed padlock symbol, the checkout process is NOT secure.
- Do not share your Member/Account Numbers outside of secure and legitimate credit unions, banks, payroll departments, billers (utilities, rent/mortgage, etc.), and digital payment and money transfer companies (PayPal).
- Do not share your Social Security Number (SSN) except on the VERY RARE occasion that you have personally initiated contact through the official contact information to a verified and trusted authority such as your financial institution, payroll department, and the Social Security Administration.
- Do not share your Online Banking Login credentials or Debit and Credit Card PINs. This is considered secure information that should never be given out and is for your personal use only. Just as you would never use an ATM to withdraw cash with someone watching you, never allow someone to watch you in-person or virtually/screen sharing while you log into your Online Banking. Giving out this information puts you at high risk and your online banking may be blocked and your cards' closed.
- Do not give virtual access to or screen share your computer. Once virtual access is given, the person interacting with your computer can install spyware and ransomware in the background hidden from your view of events. At this point, the computer will be severely compromised; cease use of it immediately. Shut down the computer and take it to a local, reputable computer repair shop and explain what happened; using your computer after such an event could continue to allow these scammers to spy on your computer activities including when you access secure websites such as your financial institution, retirement, and/or brokerage accounts online.
- When receiving a phone call from an authority, be aware the phone numbers displayed on your incoming Caller ID can be SPOOFED OR FAKED and it may NOT be the legitimate authority calling you. If ever in doubt, do not give any identity information, hang up and call the official phone number on record for the authority. Refer to original paperwork or search the internet for the official website and find their official phone numbers to call them back at.
- If a caller is unprofessional in their communication, do not give them any identity or personal information and hang up. Unprofessional communication can range from overtly aggressive cursing/swearing at to and/or using foul/obscene language to being overly friendly asking personal questions and/or overtly flirting.
- When receiving an email, scrutinize the grammar and spelling in the email; scammers outside the USA may FAIL to replicate our grammar and spelling. Never open attachments before first scrutinizing the From email address is legitimate. Scammers use email addresses that are VERY similar to official email addresses.
EXAMPLE: If you placed a legitimate order on Amazon.com, you'll receive an email from firstname.lastname@example.org. A Scammer trying to impersonate Amazon to obtain your debit and/or credit card information, bank account information, or install spyware on your device will send you a VERY similar email. They will state they are confirming your purchase of a high-priced item like a 42" Samsung TV for $727.99 and provide hyperlinks and/or phone numbers they will try and get you to click on, connect through to, or call them back at. This is the time to scrutinize the email address, a scammer's email will be VERY similar to the legitimate email but slightly different such as email@example.com. Do you see the slight difference of the number 1's added?
- In the event an unwanted, alarming, or warning pop-up appears on your computer -- do not select any links in the pop-up -- doing so may start the automatic installation of spyware or ransomware on your computer. Do not email or call any number listed in the pop-up. TIP: Some pop-ups prevent you from closing them. To avoid interacting with the pop-up altogether force shut down your computer (turn of at its power button) and restart. If you know you have legitimate virus protection, once restarted, access its software and do a complete scan of your computer.
- Do not participate in Facebook or other social media quizzes that ask you questions like, "What was your first pet's name?", "Where did you meet your significant other?", etc. The majority of these quizzes are nefarious and designed to collect your personal information that may be used as passwords and/or security questions for your financial institution and other secure websites you may access.
- If you believe a stranger contacting you is trying to get your payment or identity information -- trust your instincts. This is called phishing; PHISHING is the fraudulent practice of trying to elicit the disclosure of personal payment and identity information.
- Research job listings thoroughly before applying. Fraudulent job listings posted by fraudulent companies linked to fraudulent websites are abundant. If the company is questionable and the payment for services rendered is too good to be true -- it usually is. These are typically phishing scams looking to obtain your identity information, such as your SSN you provide upon hire, and your banking information. If their payment is by check, the checks are fraudulent.
PERSONALIZE YOUR SHARE ADVANTAGE DEBIT & CREDIT CARDS' SECURITY
- Download the CardValet app to personalize your Share Advantage Debit & Credit Cards' security.
- Personalize alerts, restrictions, and even turn your card on & off when not in regular use.
- CardValet is available for download at Google Play or Apple App Store.
If you ever suspect fraud on your Share Advantage DEBIT Card, call our Fraud Center at 1-833-462-0798.
If you ever suspect fraud on your Share Advantage CREDIT Card, call our Fraud Center at 1-855-650-7809.
If you ever suspect fraud on your Share Advantage account, please call us immediately.
TACTICS USED BY SCAMMERS AND FRAUDSTERS...
EVERY EMOTIONAL TACTIC IN THE BOOK HAS AND WILL BE USED. FROM INTIMIDATION TO ROMANCE, SCAMMERS WILL USE ANY MEANS TO GET YOU TO ACT FOR THEIR BENEFIT.
- FEAR-BASED SCAMMERS WILL QUOTE OFFICIAL-SOUNDING AGENCY NAMES, BADGE NUMBERS, STATE YOU HAVE A WARRANT FOR YOUR ARREST, STATE LIMITED-TIME REQUIREMENTS, AND YOU'LL EVEN HEAR SIREN SOUNDS IN THE BACKGROUND. FEAR-BASED SCAMMERS MAY SWEAR/CURSE AT YOU.
- FRIENDLY SCAMMERS MAY SAY THEY ARE "HELPING" YOU THROUGH THIS ISSUE GIVING YOU "ADVICE". THEY MAY SPEAK KINDLY TO YOU AND EVEN PRETEND TO EMPATHIZE WITH YOU.
- ROMANCE SCAMMERS WILL TAKE A FRIENDLY SCAM FURTHER. THEY WILL SHOW A MORE PERSONAL INTEREST IN YOU, ASK YOU QUESTIONS THAT MAKE YOU THINK THEY ARE INTERESTED IN YOU AS A PERSON, THEY WILL BE FLIRTATIOUS, AND THEY WILL EVEN SAY "I HAVE FALLEN IN LOVE WITH YOU." THEY MAY SEND YOU PHOTOS CLAIMING THEY ARE OF THEM BUT ARE STOLEN FROM SOMEONE ELSE.
COMMON PAYMENT TYPES REQUESTED BY SCAMMERS AND FRAUDSTERS...
!!! IMMEDIATE RED FLAGS ARE BOLDED !!!
- PRE-LOADED CASH CARDS
- GIFT CARDS
- MONEY TRANSFERS VIA A MONEY TRANSFER APP (EX: VENMO)
- BITCOIN AND OTHER VIRTUAL CURRENCY
- PHYSICAL CASH
- WIRES - Warning: Once a wire is sent you cannot reverse it
- MONEY ORDERS
- CHECKS - Warning: Personal checks contain your account number
SHORT-TERM POPULAR SCAMS
No one is immune to a scam being attempted on them, all the following scams have been attempted on your fellow credit union members.
- Receiving a pop-up on your computer, an email, or a call about your computer's virus protection expiring, or warning your computer is compromised by a virus, malware, spyware, or ransomware. A pop-up may state that a hacker has taken over your computer and has complete access, or it may state "they" have "frozen" your computer and will expose all your personal information unless a ransom is paid. Do not click on any links as automatic installation of spyware or ransomware may start. If contacted, the "representative" will proceed to request virtual access to or a screen share with your computer; do NOT give this "representative" virtual access to your computer. TIP: Some pop-ups prevent you from closing them; to avoid interacting with the pop-up force shut down your computer (turn of its power button) and restart. If you know you have legitimate virus protection, once restarted, access its software and do a complete scan of your computer.
- Receiving a call or email that you are due a refund, possibly even a high-dollar refund. They may state a reason or not. Just as in the scam above virtual access or a screen share with your computer will be requested and you will be asked to log into your online banking so they can "issue" you the "refund".
- Receiving a call about your car's warranty, warning your vehicle's warranty or extended warranty is coming to an end. If you do have an extended warranty, look for original paperwork or emails from the company you know you work with and call them at their official phone number.
- Receiving an email or call from Amazon stating your purchase of a high-priced item (ex: TV) has been completed and your card or bank account will be charged. To check your accounts log in to your Amazon account on its official website address www.Amazon.com -- do not click any email link to login. If you don't have an Amazon account, feel free to call the credit union to reassure yourself.
- Receiving a call that a warrant is out for your arrest asking for you to contact them immediately. They may state outstanding debt (medical bills, etc.) as the reason or they may give no reason at all. They state your arrest is imminent and authorities will be at your home soon to arrest you and you only have a couple of hours to contact them.
- Receiving a call from the "IRS" or some other official-sounding government agency informing you that you own taxes, back taxes, or fines immediately due. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) does not use email, text messages or social media to discuss tax debts or refunds with taxpayers. The IRS will only call you if they have initially reached out to you via physical mail and you have an open case with them -- you will know a call is coming from them and it will not be a surprise call.
- Receiving an urgent email or call from a younger "family" member stating they were in a traffic accident or are in jail and need bail money. They ask you to please do not call anyone else in the family as they are embarrassed. This could be a full-grown adult calling an older parent, a grandchild calling a grandparent, a nephew calling an Aunt or Uncle, etc. Many times their voice will sound strained, muffled, or different altogether; they will tell you they sound this way because they were hurt in the accident or are sick. Do not take these calls at face value -- directly call/text or reach out in another method to the relative that is supposedly calling you. If they can't be reached, please reach out to a trusted family member who may have been in contact with the relative in question recently.
- Receiving a call from the authorities such as the police or border patrol informing you a car registered in your name was found abandoned with illegal drugs in it in Texas or another border state (many times southern border states). They may state a warrant is out for your arrest or have sirens playing in the background as if they are on an active crime scene.
- Receiving an offer to pay you to wrap your vehicle in an advertisement for a company, even a well-known company.
- Finding a posted virtual job listing or receiving a virtual job offer, many times out of state, that pays a wage or lump-sum over and above the average payment for such services. Research job listings thoroughly before applying and providing your identity information. Fraudulent jobs posted by fraudulent companies linked to fraudulent websites are abundant.
- Receiving a Secret Shopper job offer. Fraudulent Secret Shopper jobs are abundant. Research job listings thoroughly before applying and providing your identity information. Fraudulent jobs posted by fraudulent companies linked to fraudulent websites are abundant.
- Receiving a call, email, or letter saying you have won a prize. Beware of notices informing you of winning contests or giveaways you did not enter. Once these scammers are contacted they will describe an awesome prize, but once you speak to a "representative" they will tell you in order to collect your prize, sweepstakes, or lottery winnings you will need to pay "taxes" on the prize/winnings first.
MINNESOTA & WISCONSIN OFFICIAL LOTTERY WARNINGS: The only way to win the MN or WI Lottery is to buy a lottery ticket or enter a second-chance contest directly on their Official Websites. If you purchased a lottery ticket, your identity is not known to the Lottery Office and you will NOT be contacted if you are a winner; winning tickets need to be claimed through the proper channels. If you entered a second-chance drawing or an official game on either state's Official Website, in this case, you may be contacted, BUT if in doubt of who is contacting you -- hang up and/or do not reply to the email -- contact the Lottery Office back at one of their Official contact avenues. You will never be asked to provide personal information over the phone or by email. A legitimate lottery would also never ask you to pay taxes or fees before you receive payment. Reject offers to buy a ticket for a chance to enter another state's or country's lottery.
PUBLISHERS CLEARING HOUSE (PCH) WARNING: "If you were contacted by someone claiming to represent Publishers Clearing House, or claiming to be a PCH employee and were asked to send or wire money, send a pre-paid gift card or a Green Dot MoneyPak card, or cash a check and send a portion back to them as payment for any reason to claim a Sweepstakes prize - STOP - You have not heard from the real Publishers Clearing House."
LONG-TERM POPULAR SCAMS
No one is immune to a scam being attempted on them, all the following scams have been attempted on your fellow credit union members.
--You are approached by a stranger on the internet who over time maintains contact and becomes "friends" with you. Contact can be casual with weeks in between contact or more consistent. Contact may move from the internet to text and from text to calls. Contact can be maintained for weeks, months, years, even decades.
--This may be a Catfish; Catfish are one person or multiple people on the internet pretending to be someone or something they are not. While some scammers may only tweak their real identity slightly to maintain a long-term friendship scam easier, other scammers take on a completely different identity even of the opposite sex; Catfish can be AMAZING actors. The reasons for people becoming a Catfish and maintaining an online friendship are many and varied from self-entertainment to financial gain. Documentaries and even a Reality TV Show have been made called Catfish which has documented hundreds of these cases since 2012.
--When these "friends" are asked to video chat over the internet or facetime over a cellphone, many times these requests are refused and they ask, "Why do you not trust me after all this time? What is the point of this friendship if there is no trust?" Other times these requests will be put off for a later time, as they are busy, don't have the right equipment (webcam, cellphone camera), or their equipment is not working. Other times, these requests are honored, but you will only see a blacked-out screen, a person sitting in shadows, or someone somewhat matching the description of the "friend" may appear on the screen and the audio will be garbled or not working at all. If the "friend" does clearly appear and clearly speak in the virtual chat, scrutinize everything... Does this person match how they described themself? If you've heard their voice or talked to them, does this person's voice match the one I've heard and/or talked to? Does this person know what we've talked about? Does this person look like they are being coached off-screen or through an in-ear earbud possibly pausing before responding? IMPORTANT: For the virtual chat it is highly recommended to select a non-descript background, that reveals little to no details about your location or life and do not move around.
--MANY TIMES THE END GOAL OF THESE "FRIENDS" IS FINANCIAL GAIN AT YOUR EXPENSE. It may start out with a small amount of money requested and slowly grow to higher and higher amounts requested. Their backstories can include the need for assistance for something small to falling on hard times recently. Stories can include common tragedies to horrendous tragedies. Stories can include abuse and their need to escape from it. If they don't want to get personal, it may be money needed for their new or existing business in these hard times. Since they've befriended you, they will work off of what they know of your personality and try to include stories that are sure to resonate with you and elicit the emotional response that will tip you over the edge and agree to send them money. They could request physical cash, a money transfer using a money transfer app (ex: Venmo), a wire through your financial institution, a pre-loaded cash card, a gift card, a money order, or a check.
--Romance scammers and fraudsters take friendship scams further... Friendships might be established first to gain greater trust, or they might launch right into romancing. Scammers who befriend before romancing will work off of what they know of your personality and try to make their new flirtations, commonalities, and stories resonate with you. Scammers who launch right into romancing are great at reading peoples' personalities and will work off of your responses to their questions and stories, so as to tweak their appeal to you.
--Romance scammers want to get you to fall in love with them and they are not afraid to be the first to say, "I have fallen in love with you." These people are working hard to gain trust and be above doubt.
--Romance scammers may try to appeal to you with pictures they say are them, but in actuality are stolen from other people.
--Romance scammers know those looking through rose-colored glasses make for more lucrative prey. This is why Romance scammers will take a long-haul approach to their interactions with their prey as they will receive more money over time. These scammers can be patient and are notorious for romancing multiple people at the same time. Many scammers treat their scams as a full-time job...
IS YOUR FINANCIAL INSTITUTION REALLY CONTACTING YOU?
If ever in doubt -- initiate contact yourself. Hang up and do not use any contact information provided in texts, emails, or letters. Contact your financial institution, to inquire further, through their official contact information as it is listed on their official website or official paperwork you already have.
- Public record offices are a resource for scammers, developing new scams based on your public information. Ex: Leins on Property you own are on public record with all the following information available to the public: Your Full Name, Mailing Address, Address of Property Owned, and Lein Holder on Property. Scammers can steal the Lein Holder's logo and information from their websites and send you letters regarding your property with the intent of trying to get you to contact them at fraudulent contact information at which point they will try to phish for your identity information, payment information, card numbers, and bank account numbers.
- Fraud departments for your financial institutions and their debit and credit cards have all your identity information, account numbers, and card numbers on file and will not need to ask for this information. Ex: If Share Advantage's debit card fraud department contacts you, they will not ask you any of this information, but rather ask you to simply confirm or deny purchases, and provide you with a case number.
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