Fraud Alerts and Schemes
Check Cashing Scam
Beware of strangers who ask you to help cash checks or perform transactions on their behalf. These checks are often counterfeit. If you are approached by a stranger who asks you to cash a check or perform any other financial transaction, immediately leave the area and report the incident to the police and to Unitus.
These scammers target individuals in parking lots or near the branches where the scam takes place. They claim that they’re desperate (e.g. stranded, starving) and provide reasons why they can’t use their own financial institution. Sometimes, the scammers will even offer a portion of the proceeds from the deposit as an incentive. They may be persistent and intimidating.
Common results of complying with these scammers are overdrafts and returned check fees, along with loss of the money given to the scammers. If you see suspicious activity of any kind, please contact law enforcement and report it to Unitus staff.
Skimming is the theft of credit, debit, and ATM card (“plastic card”) information. Plastic cards can be skimmed in a variety of ways, such as:
At an ATM, using a false or another electronic device attached to the terminal to capture information when the card is swiped and the PIN is entered.
At a merchant location, often when the card is out of sight, hand-held skimming devices are used to capture the information on the card.
From stored data, including electronic data capture terminals, personal computers and mainframes. Criminals hack into these systems to retrieve and copy valid account data.
A skimmer can hold data from hundreds of different plastic cards. The data can be downloaded into a computer and emailed anywhere in the world. The final step is to create a counterfeit plastic card using the data from the skimmer.
Counterfeit plastic card scams are widespread in Europe, Asia, Latin America and the United States.
You may receive an email that appears to come from Unitus or another trusted source. The email may instruct you to click on a link or go to a website and provide personal information. Some of these emails may even threaten to suspend your account if you don’t provide the information. This type of email is called “phishing” or “spoofing” and is one of the most common types of online fraud. If a victim inadvertently enters their information, the fraudster will use the information to create a fraudulent account, a plastic card, or sell the information on the black market.
Remember that Unitus will never ask for personal information, account information or your PIN (Personal Identification Number) in an email message. If you receive a phishing email from what appears to be Unitus, please report it to our fraud department and delete the email from your mailbox. Do not reply to or click on the link it provides.
To learn more about phishing, visit www.antiphishing.org.
Vishing (Voice phishing)
Vishing is yet another attempt to fraudulently obtain account information. A member may receive an email warning them that their account has been compromised. Instead of asking you to click on a fraudulent website, the message urges the member to call a telephone number to verify account details.
When the number is called, an automated voice message says, “Welcome to account verification. Please enter your 16-digit account number”. The goal is to get the victim to enter their credit card number and other personal information. In these reported scams, no mention of the Credit Union is made.
SMiShing is like phishing, except instead of using Internet e-mails to entice members to give out personal account information the thieves use cell phone text messages. The text message looks like official correspondence from the recipient’s credit union or bank that directs that person to a website that is similar or identical to the credit union or bank website. The website message asks the member to provide account numbers and Personal Identification Numbers. In some cases, crimeware has been downloaded to the mobile device or cell phone allowing the smisher to obtain sensitive information stored on the device.
If you have a mobile device and store sensitive information on it, consider adding password protection as a security measure.
Credit Card Scam
The majority of identity fraud crimes are self-detected. By following these simple steps, you can better protect your card from unauthorized use. Be your own fraud monitor just by paying close attention to your statement, particularly online. According to a recent report by the Better Business Bureau, accessing accounts online provides earlier identity theft detection compared to monitoring monthly paper statements and bills. If you notice a suspicious transaction, promptly contact Unitus Community Credit Union to report it. And, remember to never give information, including the CVV # (3 digit number on the back of your card), to someone on the telephone if you did not initiate the call.
ID Theft and Account Hijacking
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your name, social security number, date of birth or other identifying information without authority and with the intent to commit fraud.
Gift Cards Scams
Gift cards have become one of the most popular items to give and receive, especially during the holidays. Unfortunately, fraudsters have devised ways to dupe even the savviest of consumers when it comes to these cards. Check out these tips from Amazon to help keep you safe.
- You find new accounts on your credit report that are not yours
- You do not receive an expected bill/statement by mail or email notification
- You find unexpected charges on your account or charges from unrecognized vendors
- Checks posting to your account that are significantly out of numeric order
- You receive credit cards that you did not apply for
- You are denied credit or are offered less than favorable credit terms for no reason
- You receive calls from creditors or debt collectors regarding purchases or services that you did not authorize
The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACT Act) gives you special rights when you are, or believe that you are, a victim of identity theft.
- You have the right to ask that nationwide consumer reporting agencies place “fraud alerts” on your file to let potential creditors and others know that you may be a victim of identity theft.
- You have the right to free copies of the information in your file.
- You have the right to obtain documents relating to fraudulent transactions made or accounts opened using your personal information.
- You have the right to obtain information about the debt that you believe was incurred in your name by an identity thief.
- If you believe information in your file results from identity theft, you have the right to request a consumer-reporting agency block that from your file.
- You may also prevent businesses from reporting information about you to consumer reporting agencies if you believe the information is a result of identity theft.
To learn more about identity theft, detection, and your rights, visit http://www.ftc.gov/idtheft or the Federal Trade Commission website www.ftc.gov/credit.