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Holiday Fraud and Scams

As the holiday season approaches, CUA is seeing an increase in fraud against our members. Financial fraud is not specific to CUA members. Here are the most common scenarios and tips for keeping your financial information and accounts safe.

Smishing/Text Scams

One of the most recent text scams appears to come from a nationally known provider, such as Netflix or Amazon. The text will stress that something is amiss with your account, such as your payment information being out of date or will be closed or reassigned due to outdated information. Do not respond to the text, do not click on links, and do not call any phone numbers provided. The fraudster is trying to get your personal information. If you want to check your account, go to the official company webpage, and verify your account information by logging in and updating your profile if necessary. Some scammers are switching to text methods as consumers are becoming savvy about not answering information requested on phone calls. Spam texts increased by 58% in 2021 from 2020, according to RoboKiller’s Vice President, Giulia Porter.

Phone Scams

A significant increase in these frauds has been reported. Commonly, a member receives a call, e-mail, or text about a fraud charge occurring on their Amazon, Apple, or PayPal account (it could be any merchant). The message notifies the individual of a suspected fraud charge on their account. To confirm fraud, they need to call a specific phone number. Once the member calls, the person on the phone alerts the member that they are due credit for the fraudulent purchase. They're urged to log in to online banking and provide their login information to the scammer to receive the credit directly to their account. The scammer then moves substantial amounts from different accounts and tells the target that they credited their checking. They end up telling the individual they credited their checking more than they needed to and request the consumer to send the excess funds back to the scammers, usually via wire, gift card, or sometimes via Cash App, PayPal, or other money transfer sites. If you get one of these calls or voicemails, do not contact or engage with the contact. Call the specified company directly by looking up their contact information on their legitimate website.

Holiday Emails & Deliveries

If you get an unusual e-mail with a link to click about a package delivery or shipment you don’t remember making, do not click the link. Following the link can compromise your device or allow the hacker access to your personal information.

Stolen checks are on the rise again.

The only way to feel confident your check won’t be intercepted is to pay bills online. If one needs to write a check, we recommend taking it directly inside the post office because checks have even been stolen from the blue post office boxes.

Stolen Property

Stolen wallets and purses are more common as we get closer to the holidays. If this happens to you, contact each of your financial institutions immediately. At CUA, we can put a note on your account to alert staff in the case of someone trying to negotiate one of your stolen checks or using your personal information/ID to access your account at a branch.

Credit Card Fraud

82% of 2021 national credit card fraud was done without the card owner’s card being present, according to CO-OP Financial Services. Internationally, that number was almost 95%. Where fraud amounts are increasing, the average is $160. Fraud is often tied to purchases made for digital goods, gaming, and with tech merchants.

CUA uses a system that is highly proficient at predicting and identifying fraud. There are safeguards in place, including looking at suspicious activity based on your historical spending behavior. We hope not, but you may have experienced a declined transaction due to a specific purchase. For example, suppose you purchase a new device online, such as a phone or iPad. In that case, the system looks at that transaction and compares it to your previous transactions, along with other factors. If it looks suspicious, it will decline the transaction, and the merchant will notify you. If this happens, contact CUA 24/7 at 866.820.5887, answer a few questions about recent transactions, and let our card processor know that you made the transaction. You will have to remake the transaction, but the system will allow it to be processed. It takes both your financial institution and you to protect your card from fraud and to identify an unauthorized transaction quickly. Here are some tips on what you can do to protect yourself from credit card fraud.

  • Never write your personal identification number (PIN) on your card. If you must write it down, disguise it as an address or phone number and with a fictious name in a safe place away from your card.
  • Lost or stolen credit card?
    • Report it via the Card Management tool in CUA’s digital banking or contact us at 866.820.5887
  • If you don’t recognize charges on your card, contact CUA during regular business hours at 800.256.8049.
  • Turn on card alerts. It’s free! Log in to Digital Banking, click on Cards & Rewards, then Card Management, choose the appropriate card if you have more than one, and then Update Alert Thresholds. Card Alerts include:
    • Travel Notice – by adding a travel notice to your card, you can prevent potential card interruption when you are traveling. If there is no travel notice, the system may see that your transactions are usually made in your hometown and are now being made across the country or worldwide. Our anti-fraud systems can distinguish whether the card is presented in person or used online. If transactions are progressing across the country, it might see this as suspicious unless you have set up a travel notice.
    • Update Alert Thresholds – this allows you to choose a range of acceptable transaction sizes. If your transactions are always under $500 and one shows up for $800, you will get an alert notice if you have set the appropriate range.
    • Foreign Transactions- you can disable/enable foreign transactions. If you are traveling, you can disable it. Remember that this will apply to foreign transactions made online, as well.
    • Alerts can notify you via text when a charge is made to your card almost instantaneously.
    • You can also lock or temporarily block your card for added security. You can turn this feature on/off in Digital banking via the CUA app or CUA website within Card Management.

We continue to see all types of classic scams, so remember:

  • Do not transact other individuals' financial transactions through your account.
  • Do not deposit funds sent to you from someone you do not know and then send monies or gift cards back to them.
  • Never give anyone your credentials for logging into your account, even if they say it is to send you money.
  • Do not click on links you are not expecting or from unverified sources.
  • Do not share financial/account information with friends or family members. Unfortunately, friends and family members can and sometimes do commit fraud, or they share the info with others that are not trustworthy.

If you are unsure about a transaction, call Credit Union of America. We can help you evaluate the situation and recommend the next steps.

Have a safe, secure, and fun holiday season!

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