Fraud Prevention Tips

Stopping Scammers: Tips from Unitus’ Fraud Prevention Team

Does your kindness make you more vulnerable to scammers? It might. We know that criminals prey on individuals who are trusting; they also target people who may not be keeping up with all the constantly changing fraud schemes.

The good news is, we have an entire team here at Unitus that tracks all the latest scams. We checked in with them to find out what some of the most common scams are right now, and how you can stay ahead of them.

“We’re seeing impersonators calling or sending emails or text messages, claiming they are with the Fraud Department at Unitus,” explained one Unitus fraud expert.

The scammers will tell a person their account has been locked because of unusual activity, and then direct them to click on a link or confirm personal information or verification codes. “Don’t fall for it. The criminal is trying to bypass multi-factor controls with the link, or steal personal information to commit identity theft,” warned our expert.

Protect yourself with the following tips: 

  • Never click on text or email links, instead go directly to the Unitus website and check for alerts.
  • Never provide account data or personal information.
  • Never share one-time passcodes or verification codes.
  • Don’t rely on caller ID as it can be altered.
  • Be wary of a message or caller insisting that you take immediate action.
  • When in doubt, call Unitus directly.

Another scam to watch out for: ATM or VTM skimming and shimming. This is when a crook will use sophisticated tools to capture card and PIN information. “Unitus ATM and VTMs have effective tools to stop this fraud, but sometimes our members may use machines that belong to another organization that doesn’t have similar controls,” warned our fraud team. A recent NCUA cybersecurity alert indicated these crimes have increased significantly in the last year.

Some ways to protect yourself include:

  • Inspecting machines before use to identify loose or unusual components.
  • Covering the keypad while entering your PIN.
  • Use “tap-to-pay” options or a digital wallet on your mobile phone.

The thrill of a new romance can be very exciting! Unfortunately, scammers can quickly turn that excitement into devastation. Guardian Analytics reports “sweetheart scams” are one of the most prevalent attacks. “A sweetheart scam is when a criminal uses online dating or social media sites to create fake profiles. They may strike up a romance with the victim, and once they gain their trust, they create elaborate problems and ask victims to give them access to their accounts,” summarized one Unitus fraud expert.

These scammers can be very convincing, so:

  • Be suspicious when communicating with someone online that you’ve never met in person.
  • Never send money or provide banking credentials in these situations.
  • Watch and monitor your account activity regularly.

“We really encourage Unitus members to take advantage of the security controls we offer,” suggested the fraud team. “These tools are in place to help members avoid fraud and keep their accounts safe.”

To fight fraud, our team recommends the following:

  • Download the Unitus Card Guard app (iOS/Android).
  • Activate fraud text alerts.
  • Install anti-virus and anti-spyware.
  • Promptly install software updates on devices and computers.
  • Use multi-factor authentication whenever possible.

You can find more information on these tools on our security page. If you notice suspicious activity on any Unitus account, credit card or debit card, we are here to help. Contact us immediately using a method below: 

  1. Visit our Virtual Branch to live chat or video chat instantly.
  1. Call us at 503-227-5571 or 1-800-452-0900 to get help from a Member Service Specialist.
  1. To report lost or stolen debit or credit card after business hours, call 503-423-8315 or 1-800-422-3132 (option 2).

We also encourage you to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the U.S. government agency tasked with investigating deceptive or unfair business practices. This will help protect other innocent people from fraud.

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