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Summer Scams

Is Apple Calling Me?

A well-known company presumably contacts a target/victim.i.e., Google, Apple.They tell the target to download an app onto their smartphone.If downloaded, this allows the scammer access to the phone.The scammer then logs in to other apps on the phone, like your mobile banking and money transfer apps. Then, the transfers start, emptying your accounts.If any company calls, texts, or emails and requests that you download an application, this is a red flag.Investigate by contacting the company directly.

Job Hunting

We continue to see individuals that apply for jobs for usually too-good-to-be-true positions.  i.e., "Make $2,000 a week. Work just 5 hours a week”, etc.  The scammer sends you fraudulent checks to "purchase work equipment" or "advance on your first paycheck." After receiving the check, the target is to use the funds to purchase specific equipment and send extra back. A legitimate business will buy equipment for you and does not need to run checks through your account. If you deposit or cash a check through your account, you are personally responsible for the instrument.  Checks returned for any reason are your responsibility, whether you still have the funds in your account or not.  When funds are already spent, you risk having your own checks returned for insufficient funds or not having the money you need for basic living expenses.

Car Wraps?

The target is contacted and told they can make money if they display a wrap on their car advertising a business.  The scammer sends them a check to pay for the wrap, but they have to negotiate it through their account and then send the money to the installer.  Once the "installer/scammer" receives the money, guess what?  No one comes out to wrap the vehicle, and the check is then returned to the target as insufficient funds or account closed.  The target is now the victim and is out the amount of the check.

Anything? for Your Sweetheart

Sweetheart scams never seem to stop. Scammers prey on those looking for love, companionship, grieving, or are just lonely.  We’ve had numerous members who were sent checks and told to deposit to their account.  The victim should then send the funds as soon as possible to help their new boyfriend/girlfriend (usually in a different state or country). Even if they send you a photo, you have no way of knowing if that's them.   Or that what they tell you about their employment, family, personal situation, or even location is valid. Some scammers will have you send checks to another "employee."  This middle man protects the scammer's identity.  Again, never transact through your account or send money to unknown individuals. 

Missing Mail

Stolen and washed checks.  And we're not talking about checks left in pockets and put through the wash.  Did you know that fraudsters can chemically wash checks and then alter the amounts and names?  We see this when members put payments in their mailbox for the carrier to pick up.  The thief steals the check from the mailbox and makes a copy, so they have your signature. They then chemically wash the ink off and reuse the check. Usually, they make it payable to a fictitious person with a larger amount on the check. Finally, they forge the victim's signature. They then try to cash the check at the financial institution where the check is drawn on, with a false name and ID.  How to prevent it?  First, any time you're mailing a payment, place it directly in a U.S. post office box or hand it to a postal employee.  Better yet, use CUA’s BillPay and pay those bills electronically. Second, monitor your bank account online and make sure that your payments are clearing for the appropriate amount.  Lastly, if you’re home during the day, keep an eye out on your neighborhood and report suspicious individuals, like those that knock on your door looking for other addresses, etc. 

Tech Support

Tech support scams are also popular. If a tech support company contacts you and wants access to your online banking account to process a "credit," don't allow this. We often see these scammers transferring funds from savings to checking and making it appear that you received a credit into your account. They then ask you to return the extra funds to them via gift card or other means. Remember, if they reached out to you, stop and don't proceed.  Investigate by contacting the company directly with a phone number or through their legitimate website.  If it's not a company that you've contracted with, no need to investigate, don't do it.

Red Flags

  • Anyone asking you to send gift cards, money orders, or cash to an unknown person or company. 
  • Any request for online banking information for you to receive money (for a loan, grant, or job). They should not need online banking or app information to send you money.
  • Any request to send funds via CashApp or Venmo (especially someone not known personally). Once these are authorized, debit card transactions with money transfer apps are challenging to stop the transaction.

Prevention is the Best Cure

Scammers are not going to disappear, and anyone can be a target.  But not everyone needs to be a victim.  Arm yourself with knowledge, be on guard, investigate by contacting the company or contacting your financial institutions, and maintain awareness.  Scammers are good at their job and can be very convincing.  A legitimate business or individual will not mind if you investigate first.  And if you do fall for a scam, don’t be embarrassed to call your financial institution.  The sooner we know, the better we can assist you. 

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