(Scammers) Never Fail to Adapt
Scammers never fail to find new ways to steal money and identities. Sometimes it is a tried-and-true scam, but they go after a new target group. Younger targets are what we see most recently. The "free money" scam has been around for years, but the targets are now younger. With COVID keeping more people at home and online for entertainment and socialization, we see 18–23-year-old members talking to unknown people on the internet and being more vulnerable. The scammer convinces them to share their account information, and they will send them free money. Sometimes they send them a fraudulent check to deposit. Sometimes, they send a fraudulent check image for the member to deposit to their account via the SnapCheck feature. The scammer may ask to share a portion of the funds, or they may give it all to the victim. Either way, the victim is out of money when the check is fraudulent. While victims are getting younger, this can happen to anyone. There is no such thing as free money unless someone hands you cash. And honestly, how often does that happen?
Another recent scam poses as the long-established Publishers Clearing House (PCH). It would always be exciting to win money from PCH, right? And they do give money away. However, it is a scam if you have received notice that you’ve won and asked to send in “insurance” or a “deposit” to receive your prize. They may tell you it is part of the identification process. This request is always a scam. Publishers Clearing House will never ask you to send money in because you have won a prize.
Pay Your Taxes
The IRS scam is a scary and devastating one if you fall for it. And this happened locally. The victim received a phone call from someone posing as a government employee. The caller indicated that the individual owed $25,000. If they did not pay as instructed, the victim would go to jail. The scammer also told them that they should lie to the credit union to get all the money in cash and avoid questions. Sometimes the scammer asks the victim to exchange the money for gift cards before sending or meeting them with the payment. There are many red flags in this situation:
- The IRS will not call you to demand immediate payment.
- They will not specify a method of payment such as a debit/gift card or wire transfer.
- Will not threaten you with arrest or jail.
- You will generally get a letter notifying you of tax debt before receiving any phone calls.
- You have the right to have the payment request questioned or appealed.
- There is never a reason to lie to your credit union. We are here to help you with financial situations. Because we see a great deal of fraud, fraud attempts and receive government and law enforcement notices, we can help you spot a scam. Don't be afraid to call or come in to ask us about a potential transaction.
Avoid the Scam
There are many versions of scams. A few tips to avoid becoming a victim include:
- If it sounds too good to be true, it is!
- There is no such thing as free money.
- Keep your account and personal identifying information private and to yourself. Personal information includes social security numbers, account numbers, age, and passwords.
- If you have any doubt about a call, online discussion, letter, or any request for money or personal information, contact your financial institution. Our training helps in these situations. Be sure to call us before you go through with any unusual or suspicious transaction.
There will be scams today, tomorrow, and every day. Keep your mind clear and think through any new monetary transactions. And do not forget to call your credit union. We are here to help. All questions are welcome.