Member Security &
Fraud Prevention Tips
IMPORTANT: Unitus will never ask for sensitive information such as your password, PIN or 3-digit security code. If you receive a call, text, or email from someone claiming to represent Unitus requesting this information, please do not respond.
Common Scams to Be Aware Of
Scammers throughout the country are targeting victims through phishing and SMiShing attacks with messages appearing to come from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or Department of Employment Security. These messages typically alert recipients that there is missing or incorrect information and to click on the provided link to a malicious website to update this information. These scams have been most recently reported in the states of Illinois, New York, California, and Wyoming – but are most likely hitting other states as well.
A recent scam impacting Illinois residents involves receiving a text message appearing to come from the Secretary of State. The message has been reported to include this info:
OFFICE OF THE ILLINOIS SECRETARY OF STATE: IL-DMV Contact information seems to be missing or incorrect. Please update now….(link to malicious website)
Similar text messages appearing to come from the Illinois Department of Transportation refer to the state’s driver’s license validation program requesting the recipients to click on a link to validate their personal information. Clicking on the link takes the recipient to a malicious website where they are asked to enter their personal information.
Other versions of these scams have also been reported in New York, California and Wyoming but most likely hitting other residents in other states as well. Scam messages may also refer to the upcoming federal REAL ID requirements and request to update your information by clicking on a link.
The DMV, other government agencies, or Unitus will never contact you via text message or email asking for personal information. If one of these text messages or emails is received, DO NOT respond and delete it.
SMiShing uses text messaging to send fraudulent messages in the hopes you will click on a link or text back personal information, install malware, and steal funds. Fraudsters can be well disguised into luring you into calling a phone number or clicking on a link to install malware or a virus on your phone.
Phishing uses a similar method of trying to gather personal information using deceptive emails and websites. Keep in mind…intimidation tactics and urgent requests are common in both SMiShing and Phishing scams.
In a new twist on an old scam, older adults all across the United States have been duped into handing over cash at their front door, thinking they’re helping a loved one who is in danger.
It happened to a resident of Lake Oswego in October 2020, and the Oregon Department of Justice has reason to believe the same scammers are making their way back to Oregon to scam even more older adults.
Here’s what you should know to stay safe:
In grandparent scams, scammers pose as panicked grandchildren in trouble, calling or sending messages urging you to wire money immediately. They’ll say they need cash to help with an emergency – like paying a hospital bill or needing to leave a foreign country. They pull at your heartstrings so they can trick you into sending money before you realize it’s a scam. In these days of Coronavirus concerns, their lies can be particularly compelling. And unlike earlier versions of the scam where callers tell victims they must send money by wire transfer or pre-paid gift cards or some other internet transfer, the caller says it’s urgent and they’ll come to the victim’s home to collect the money.
So, how can you avoid grandparent scams or family emergency scams? If someone calls or sends a message claiming to be a grandchild, other family member or friend desperate for money:
- Resist the urge to act immediately – no matter how dramatic the story is.
- Verify the caller’s identity. Ask questions that a stranger couldn’t possibly answer. Call a phone number for your family member or friend that you know to be genuine. Check the story out with someone else in your family or circle of friends, even if you’ve been told to keep it a secret.
- Don’t send cash, gift cards, or money transfers – once the scammer gets the money, it’s gone!
- Never open your door for anyone you don’t know.
- Call the police immediately if you have reason to believe you’ve fallen victim to this scam.
If you have fallen victim to a scam, you can file a complaint online at www.oregonconsumer.gov or call the Attorney General’s Consumer Hotline at 1-877-877-9392 and ask that a complaint form be mailed to you. Learn more online at www.oregonconsumer.gov.
Money mules are people who receive and transfer money obtained from victims of fraud and are recruited through several methods:
- Work-from-Home Scams: A job posting offers easy money for reshipping packages, buying gift cards or Postal Money Orders, or transferring money, which can be done at home.
- Confidence Scams: A person or business you don’t know offers you a cut/commission if you transfer money for them.
- Lottery Scams: A person informs you that you need to transfer or accept money in order to collect a prize/ winnings.
- Romance Scams: A person you’ve met online or on an app who says they’re romantically interested in you asks you to transfer money and/or packages.
Transferring money/valuables on behalf of others only benefits criminals, and may lead to serious consequences for you.
- Don’t engage in financial transactions with strangers.
- Don’t take a job that promises easy money and involves sending or receiving money or packages.
- Check any work-from-home opportunity or money transferring offer with a trusted family member or friend. You can also contact your Better Business Bureau chapter or access your state’s corporation directory to help verify if the business is legitimate.
- Report money mule activity/scams as soon as possible.
(Source: United State Postal Inspection Service)
The easiest way for individuals to avoid getting ripped off in home-based business opportunities is to verify that the company in question follows the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s Business Opportunity Rule (link to https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/bogus-business-opportunities). This safeguard is in place to protect individuals from risky business ventures by highlighting required information that companies must make available to individuals seeking home-based employment opportunities. The Business Opportunity Rule requires businesses to provide a disclosure document that identifies the seller, gives the status of pending legal action against them and lists references. This rule also requires home-based businesses to provide an earnings claim statement, as well as prohibits certain practices for home-based businesses. When evaluating a potential business opportunity to determine its legitimacy, individuals should verify that the company they plan on venturing into willingly provides the information required under this rule.
Another way to avoid working from home business schemes is to research the company in more detail before signing an employment agreement or paying any up-front costs. Checking with local consumer agencies, state attorney generals or the Better Business Bureau might turn up previous complaints made by victims who have been scammed in the past. Individuals should also consider that legitimate business opportunities generally do not charge their employees to work for them.
The ability for someone to earn an income from their residence is an alluring prospect, but individuals should remain cautious when taking on home-based work opportunities. Being aware of the different schemes that fraudsters use to take advantage of those looking for work, as well as ways to conduct thorough research on prospective employers, can help prevent people from losing their time, money and hard work to scams involving working from home.
U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning phone users not to respond to calls and voicemails purportedly from Amazon that say the company is charging you for an item you didn’t order, or is reporting your package is lost or it can’t fulfill your order.
The FTC is also warning about recorded messages supposedly from Apple that tell phone users it’s discovered suspicious activity or a breach in their iCloud accounts.
The goal of both versions of the scam is to prompt you to give up personally identifiable information (PII), such as your account password or credit card number that the fraudsters can use to steal your identity.
The FTC advises:
Do not press 1 to speak with customer support.
Do not call a phone number they gave you.
Do not give out your personal information.
The Washington State Auditor’s office announced on February 1 that a third-party provider it uses to transfer files was breached. This potentially exposes the personal information of 1.6 million Washingtonians who filed for unemployment between Jan. 1 to Dec. 25, 2020, and possibly others.
Possible compromised information may include names, social security numbers, driver’s license and banking information. Learn more: https://sao.wa.gov/breach2021/
You can protect your personal information with these useful tools:
- Utilize our online banking alert process for notification of transactions such as password changes, email changes, etc. Reference our step-by-step how-to guide here: http://bit.ly/uonlineguides
- Place fraud alerts and/or credit freezes with the three national credit reporting agencies (Equifax, TransUnion, Experian) and view your credit at www.annualcreditreport.com
Social Media Scams
Online shopping scams often involve the use of social media platforms to set up fake, online stores. By using social media to advertise the fake website; fraudsters take the member’s payment, but your member will never see the goods.
Shipment Update Scams
Fraudsters send a fake email notifying you of a delivery failure or the request for updated shipping information. The email looks like it’s coming from the original sender, but it contains a link with malware.
Criminals are increasingly using people like Denise Newton to move their money, just as many have lost their jobs and are vulnerable. Read more from this New York Times article.
Debt relief service scams target consumers with significant credit card debt by falsely promising to negotiate with their creditors to settle or otherwise reduce consumers’ repayment obligations; to lure them into purchasing services with promises to remove negative credit report information; to increase their credit scores; to reduce credit card interest rates, or to eliminate/reduce student loan debt.
These operations often charge cash-strapped consumers a large up-front fee, but then fail to help them settle or lower their debts if they provide any service at all. Some debt relief scams even tout their services using automated robocalls to consumers on the Do-Not-Call List.
Credit repair scams frequently target financially distressed consumers who are having credit problems which during these unprecedented times leads to significant opportunities for fraudsters. These operations lure consumers to purchase their services by falsely claiming that they will remove negative information from consumers’ credit reports even if that information is accurate.
- False promises made and charging upfront fees to consumers struggling with student loan debt. A recent FTC complaint alleges the defendants pretended to be affiliated with the Department of Education promising to enroll consumers in student loan forgiveness, consolidation, and other repayment programs to eliminate or reduce student loan debt. Instead of providing the services promised, the company often contacted the loan servicer to place the loans into temporary loan forbearance or deferment status without the consumers’ authorization.
- Telemarketing scammers promise to reduce credit card interest rates after being paid. Consumers are convinced the scammers are affiliated with their card issuer, or a credit card network, and can save up to thousands of dollars in interest.
Common Warning Signs
- A debt relief company asks for fees up front, before it settles any debts.
- The company guarantees it can eliminate debt or reduce it by a particular amount in a set period of time.
- The company advises to cut off communication with creditors.
The Oregon Department of Justice has issued a scam alert for people who are pretending to be contact tracers. These imposters send emails and text messages with links to fraudulent websites. Clicking on the link may download software onto a device, giving them access to an array of your personal and financial information.
If you receive an email or a text message you think might be from a scammer posing as a contact tracer, first, do not click on any links. Then, file a complaint online at www.oregonconsumer.gov or call 1-877-877-9392 and ask that a complaint form be mailed to you.
For more information on other COVID-19 scams, visit www.oregonconsumer.gov/COVID-19.
The specific link for this scam, with an intro to contact tracing can be viewed here.
Scammers are taking advantage of fears surrounding the Coronavirus
Scammers are at it again, this time preying on the fears many have of the Coronavirus. They’re setting up websites to sell bogus products, and using fake emails, texts, and social media posts as a ruse to take your money and get your personal information.
Be on the lookout for these types of scams:
- Unemployment Benefits scams: Be wary of anyone reaching out regarding unemployment benefits due to a current fraud scam. Read more
- Testing scams: Scammers are selling fake at-home test kits or going door-to-door performing fake tests for money.
- Treatment scams: Scammers are offering to sell fake cures, vaccines, and advice on unproven treatments for COVID-19.
- Supply scams: Scammers are creating fake shops, websites, social media accounts, and email addresses claiming to sell medical supplies currently in high demand, such as surgical masks. When consumers attempt to purchase supplies through these channels, fraudsters pocket the money and never provide the promised supplies.
- Provider scams: Scammers are contacting people by phone and email, pretending to be doctors and hospitals that have treated a friend or relative for COVID-19, and demanding payment for that treatment.
- Charity scams: Scammers are soliciting donations for individuals, groups, and areas affected by COVID-19.
- Phishing scams: Scammers posing as national and global health authorities, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are sending phishing emails designed to trick recipients into downloading malware or providing personal identifying and financial information.
- App scams: Scammers are creating and manipulating mobile apps designed to track the spread of COVID-19 to insert malware that will compromise users’ devices and personal information.
- Investment scams: Scammers are offering online promotions on various platforms, including social media, claiming that the products or services of publicly traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure COVID-19, and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result. These promotions are often styled as “research reports,” make predictions of a specific “target price,” and relate to microcap stocks, or low-priced stocks issued by the smallest of companies with limited publicly available information.
- During times like these crooks are out in full force and you should never let anyone send you funds that they then request you send back.
- Independently verify the identity of any company, charity, or individual that contacts you regarding COVID-19.
- Check the websites and email addresses offering information, products, or services related to COVID-19. Be aware that scammers often employ addresses that differ only slightly from those belonging to the entities they are impersonating. For example, they might use “cdc.com” or “cdc.org” instead of “cdc.gov.”
- Be wary of unsolicited emails offering information, supplies, or treatment for COVID-19 or requesting your personal information for medical purposes. Legitimate health authorities will not contact the general public this way.
- Do not click on links or open email attachments from unknown or unverified sources. Doing so could download a virus onto your computer or device.
- Make sure the anti-malware and anti-virus software on your computer is operating and up to date.
- Ignore offers for a COVID-19 vaccine, cure, or treatment. Remember, if there is a medical breakthrough, you won’t hear about it for the first time through an email, online ad, or unsolicited sales pitch.
- Check online reviews of any company offering COVID-19 products or supplies. Avoid companies whose customers have complained about not receiving items.
- Research any charities or crowdfunding sites soliciting donations in connection with COVID-19 before giving. Remember, an organization may not be legitimate even if it uses words like “CDC” or “government” in its name or has reputable looking seals or logos on its materials. For online resources on donating wisely, visit the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website.
- Be wary of any business, charity, or individual requesting payments or donations in cash, by wire transfer, gift card, or through the mail. Don’t send money through any of these channels.
- Be cautious of “investment opportunities” tied to COVID-19, especially those based on claims that a small company’s products or services can help stop the virus. If you decide to invest, carefully research the investment beforehand. For information on how to avoid investment fraud, visit the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) website.
- For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) websites.
Fake CDC Emails
Watch out for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or other government agencies or organizations claiming to offer information on the virus. The emails and posts may be promoting awareness and prevention tips, and fake information about cases in your neighborhood. They also may be asking you to donate to victims, offering advice on unproven treatments, or contain malicious email attachments. Here are some tips to help you keep the scammers at bay:
- Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. It could download a virus onto your computer or device. Make sure the anti-malware and anti-virus software on your computer is up to date.
- Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying that have information about the virus. The best sources for authoritative information on COVID-19 are www.cdc.gov and www.coronavirus.gov. You may also consult your primary care physician for guidance.
- Ignore online offers for vaccinations. If you see ads touting prevention, treatment, or cure claims for the Coronavirus, ask yourself: if there’s been a medical breakthrough, would you be hearing about it for the first time through an ad or sales pitch?
- Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it.
- Beware of fake government agencies promoted by fraudsters. Government agencies do not communicate through social media outlets, such as Facebook. Never pay a fee for a government grant. A government agency will never request an advanced processing fee to receive the grant. Please visit here to obtain the official list of U.S. federal grant-making agencies.
- Be alert to “investment opportunities.” The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is warning people about online promotions, including on social media, claiming that the products or services of publicly-traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure coronavirus and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result.
- Be cautious of phishing emails and calls/texts claiming an individual’s government check is available and asking for account information for deposit.
Phishing emails may also claim to be related to:
- Charitable contributions
- General financial relief
- Airline carrier refunds
- Fake cures and vaccines
- Fake testing kits
- Government Checks
Inspector General Warns Public About New Social Security Benefit Suspension Scam
The Social Security Office of the Inspector General has received reports that Social Security beneficiaries have received letters through the U.S. Mail stating their payments will be suspended or discontinued unless they call a phone number referenced in the letter. Scammers may then mislead beneficiaries into providing personal information or payment via retail gift cards, wire transfers, internet currency, or by mailing cash, to maintain regular benefit payments during this period of COVID-19 office closures.
Social Security will never:
- Threaten you with benefit suspension, arrest, or other legal action unless you pay a fine or fee:
- Promise a benefit increase or other assistance in exchange for payment;
- Require payment by retail gift cared, cash wire transfer, internet currency, or prepaid debit card;
- Demand secrecy from you in handling a Social Security-related problem; or
- Send officials letter or reports containing personally identifiable information via mail.
If you received a letter, text, call or email that you believe to be suspicious, about an alleged problem with your Social Security number, account, or payments, hang up or do not respond. We encourage you to report Social Security scams using our dedicated online for at https://oig.ssa.gov.
Cyber Hygiene and Security Measures
The FBI is reminding you to always use good cyber hygiene and security measures. By remembering the following tips, you can protect yourself and help stop criminal activity:
- Do not open attachments or click links within emails from senders you don’t recognize.
- Do not provide your username, password, date of birth, social security number, financial data, or other personal information in response to an email or robocall.
- Always verify the web address of legitimate websites and manually type them into your browser.
- Check for misspellings or wrong domains within a link (for example, an address that should end in a “.gov” ends in .com” instead).
Seniors are being targeted through a Facebook post informing them that they can get a special grant to help pay medical bills. The link within the post takes them to a bogus website claiming to be a government agency called the “U.S. Emergency Grants Federation” where they are asked to provide their Social Security Number under the guise of needing to verify their identity. In other versions, fraudsters claim individuals can get additional money, up to $150,000 in some cases. The victims are asked to pay a “processing fee” to receive a grant.
Scammers continue to take advantage of lonely hearts
Millions of people, including credit union members, look to online dating or social networking sites to meet someone. But instead of romance, many unknowingly find a scammer. Cyberspace scammers are eager to take advantage of lonely hearts by setting up fake accounts on social media or dating sites to establish fraudulent relationships and get them to send money. In fact, the median loss of romance / sweetheart scams as reported by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is $2,600 and for people over 70 was over $10,000.
Scammers continue to fake online dating profiles using photos or other people to lure their victims. People reported losing $143 million to romance and sweetheart scams according to the FTC. The scammers strike up a relationship with their targets to build their trust, sometimes talking or chatting several times a day. The scammers quickly profess their love and tug at the victim’s emotions with fake stories and their need for money.
By using popular social media sites – like Instagram, Facebook, or Google Hangouts – scammers make the connection quickly and con their victims into wiring money or sending gift cards from vendors like Amazon.
Another variation is where victims are duped into providing online banking login credentials. The scammer then logs into the account and uses the account-to account/external transfer feature to initiate ACH debits against accounts at other institutions pulling funds into the victim’s account for deposit, or deposit fraudulent checks via mobile remote deposit capture. The victim is instructed to send the funds to the scammer by Western Union or MoneyGram. The ACH debits are subsequently returned to the credit union as unauthorized up to 60 days later, and checks are returned unpaid.
- A few red flags of these romance/sweetheart scams:
- String you along but never want to meet in person
- Scammers often say they’re living/traveling outside of the United States
- Hint they’re having money trouble and ask for money, personal info, or account number
- Often need money for emergencies, hospital bills, or travel.
- Never send money or gifts to a sweetheart you haven’t met in person – never wire money, put money on a gift or re-loadable card, or send cash to an online love interest.
It’s tax season and scammers are already at it. Please beware of the following:
- A scare campaign using robocalls claiming that law enforcement is going to suspend or cancel the call recipient’s Social Security number (SSN) in response to taxes owed. This scam often tricks people into calling these numbers back, even though according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a person’s Social Security number will never get suspended. Remember, the IRS only contacts taxpayers through snail mail or in-person.
- Another tax scam involves emails and impersonators claiming to be from the IRS either reminding you to file your taxes or offering you information about your refund. These emails involve spoofed websites to collect any information you input thereby facilitating identity theft. They can also infect your computer with malware, allowing fraudsters to steal more data.
- Since many know that the IRS doesn’t ask for money over phone or email, scammers are sending out letters. This letter claims to be from the Bureau of Tax Enforcement and may mention the IRS, demanding immediate payment. While these letters look legitimate, the Bureau of Tax Enforcement does not exist.
- Scammers are posing as tax professionals, however, they are really ghost tax preparers that will take money to prepare your taxes but won’t sign the return, making it look like you did the work yourself. Ghost preparers often lie on the return to make you qualify for credits you haven’t earned or apply changes that will get you in trouble. Since they don’t sign, you’ll be responsible for any errors. At best, you’ll have to repay the money owed. At worst, you could be looking at an audit.
Fraudsters are always on the hunt for ways to scam consumers out of their hard-earned money, that includes gift cards too either bought online or in stores! Here are a few of the most common types of gift card scams:
Fake Online Listings Scam
You find an item advertised online such as concert or event tickets, a vehicle, pet, or rental property and are instructed to make a payment using a branded gift cards sold online, and provide your claim codes via email or phone. The item is often priced far below market value and the seller may claim they need to sell the item quickly because of a life event that creates a sense of urgency, such as moving, divorce, death of a loved one, or military deployment. The scammer also may claim that following a payment for the goods, you will receive the item and may even end a fake receipt. Always be suspicious of anyone who contacts you and demands money quickly; no legitimate seller would require you to pay for the item in gift cards.
You receive an unexpected/unsolicited email or text message from your boss or a leader in an organization you are involved in requesting that you purchase branded gift cards and send the cards or the claim codes to that person. Typically, the message will say that the gift cards will be used for some purpose within the company (e.g., employee incentives, client appreciation, charitable donations). The scammer may claim they are out of town, in a conference call, or otherwise engaged and that is why they need you to make the purchase for them.
We suggest you immediately try to contact your boss or the leaders of your organization directly using a phone number/email that you know is theirs. Always be suspicious of anyone who contacts you and demands money quickly.
Unsolicited phone call from scammers claiming to be from Unitus
Scammers are using fake caller ID information to trick you into thinking they’re someone who can be trusted. The practice is called “caller ID spoofing,” and scammers can fake anyone’s phone number. You may receive an unsolicited call from someone stating they are a member of Unitus’ Member Service Department. They may say your account is frozen and you need to purchase a Unitus or branded gift card(s) and provide the claim codes over the phone in order to remove the freeze on your account. Other things they might ask for are your Unitus uOnline password, full credit card ID or credit union account number.
Unitus will never call or ask for sensitive information such as your account number, password, card number, PIN or 3-digit security code. If you receive a call, text, or email from someone claiming to represent Unitus requesting this information, please do not respond.
Family emergency scams
You receive an unexpected phone call or unsolicited email from an individual claiming to be a lawyer, law enforcement agent, hospital employee, or other representative for a family member in distress who needs your immediate financial help. Some callers may even try to impersonate your family member or friend. You may be instructed to purchase Unitus gift cards or another branded gift card to resolve the situation.
We suggest immediately contacting your family member directly using a phone number that you know is theirs, or contact another relative who can assist you. Always be suspicious of anyone who contacts you and demands money quickly.
Unpaid debt and tax scams
You receive an unexpected phone call or unsolicited email to make a payment for taxes, fines, bail money, utility bills, or other unexpected fees. The scammer may claim you owe a past due amount as a result of miscalculation of your taxes; or the scammer may claim that you are owed a tax refund, prize, or rebate but must first make a payment for administrative fees with a gift card.
If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, you should never give out personal information. Report the call to the IRS using their IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting web page or by calling the IRS at 1-800-366-4484.
Job offer scams
You receive an unexpected phone call suggesting you apply for a Unitus job where you can work from home. You may be told that you can work your own hours, and make thousands of dollars a month. Once the scammer informs you that you’ve received a job offer, they may request that you pay a start-up fee or purchase a starter kit with a Unitus gift card.
We recommend that you do not respond to employment opportunities from cold-callers, over email, or on websites claiming to be affiliated with Unitus. Any Unitus job opportunities will be posted on the Unitus Careers page, and will not require you to purchase equipment or pay any initiation fees.
Millions of American families started receiving the advance Child Tax Credit payments last month. If you get a phone call, email, or text message or see a social media post offering help you get these payments, watch out.
Any communication offering assistance to sign up for the Child Tax Credit or to speed up the monthly payments is likely a scam. When receiving unsolicited calls or messages, taxpayers should not provide personal information, click on links, or open attachments as this may lead to money loss, tax-related fraud, and identity theft.
Although scammers constantly come up with new schemes to try to catch taxpayers off-guard, there are simple ways to identify if it is truly the IRS reaching out.
- The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers via email, text messages, or social media channels to request personal or financial information, even information related to the Child Tax Credit.
- The IRS does not leave pre-recorded, urgent, or threatening messages. Aggressive calls warning taxpayers about a lawsuit or arrest are fake.
- The IRS will not call taxpayers asking them to provide or verify financial information so they can obtain the monthly Child Tax Credit payments.
- The IRS will not ask for payment via a gift card, wire transfer, or cryptocurrency.
- For taxpayers eligible for advance payments of the Child Tax Credit, the IRS will use information from their 2020 or 2019 tax return to automatically enroll them for advance payments. Taxpayers do not have to take any additional action. To report suspicious IRS-related phishing and online scams, visit www.irs.gov.
How to Report Fraud/Scams
Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which handles complaints about deceptive or unfair business practices. To learn more about common gift card scams, visit FTC.gov/giftcards. To file a complaint, visit https://ftccomplaintassistant.gov, call 1-877-FTC-HELP, or write to: Federal Trade Commission, CRC-240, Washington, D.C. 20580
If your complaint is against a company in a country other than the United States, or you want to find information on where to report in locations outside the United States, visit http://www.econsumer.gov.
You may also visit our Contact Us page and submit an inquiry form, just select ‘Suspicious activity on my account’ from the drop-down. If you are contacting us via personal email, please have you email’s subject line read: ‘Suspicious activity on my account’. This will help our staff assist you.
Learn about common ways your ID can be stolen and how you can protect yourself
Start by watching this video about Identity Theft. It only takes a few minutes and includes the following helpful information:
- How fraudsters obtain your private information
- How to protect your phone, computer, and files
- How to keep yourself secure online and offline
- Checking your credit report is easy and free!
Safety First: Fraud Prevention Checklist
While nearly all merchants and organizations have anti-fraud security measures in place, recent high-exposure breach events at major companies have shown that it’s difficult to completely prevent fraud for even the most sophisticated defense systems.
That said, as a savvy individual, there are things you can do to both reduce your risk of experiencing fraud and minimize any potential fraud loss.
Follow this fraud prevention checklist of things you can do today to remain safe on an everyday basis:
- Log into uOnline and update the contact information connected to your Unitus account. Make sure your phone, email, and street address are all up to date so we can contact you quickly in case of any suspicious activity from fraudsters. Early detection is the most effective way to limit or eliminate loss. If you suspect you are a victim of identity theft, learn more about what rights you have.
- Enroll in Fraud Text Alerts. Once you do, we can notify you instantly via SMS text of any suspicious activity on your account. Again, early detection is crucial.
- Download the Unitus Card Guard mobile app. The app allows you to turn off or turn on your card instantly to ensure only you can access your card. It lets you set spending alerts and receive instant notifications of account activity to make sure you are in complete control of your card.
If your Unitus card is ever at risk of being compromised due to a security breach at a merchant, such as Target or Home Depot, rest assured we will act swiftly.
We will contact you to inform you of the merchant breach. We will then walk you through the process of canceling your card and issuing you a new one to protect your data and your finances.
When you feel secure and confident, you’re more able to serve your family, your community, and yourself. We’re here to help.
Unitus employs state of the art systems to protect your financial information. Here are a few of the fraud prevention tools working to keep you safe.
Falcon Fraud Protection
Every Unitus credit or debit card comes with Falcon Fraud protection, notifying us immediately of suspicious activity to your account.
Fraud Text Alerts
Sign up for Fraud Text Alerts! It’s easy, fast, and helps you stay in control in case of fraud.
Firewalls, encrypted transmissions, and constantly improving anti-virus technology all work together to keep your account information safe.
Other Ways to Protect Yourself
Here are some ways you can keep your credit and debit cards secure.
- Download the Unitus Card Guard mobile app.
- Sign up for Unitus fraud text alerts.
- Sign your new credit or debit card immediately after receiving it.
- Never carry your PIN and card together. If you can memorize your PIN, shred any documents containing the number. If you prefer to have a reference copy, store it in a different place from your card.
- Shred or cut up your old cards as soon as they expire or are no longer active.
- Shred any receipts of purchases made using your card.
- If you suspect your card is lost or stolen, report it to Unitus immediately.
For fraudsters, your computer can be a gateway to personal information. Stay secure with these steps.
- Install anti-virus and anti-spyware on your computer. There are many products available to deter criminals from accessing your personal information through your computer.
- Add a firewall to your computer to prevent unauthorized users from accessing your system.
- Install all software fixes (also called “service packs”) available for your computer programs as soon as possible. These often fix newly discovered security weaknesses.
- Use a current web browser. The newer the version, the more likely it is to keep you safe online.
- Activate a pop-up blocking tool. Pop-ups are still a favorite of fraudsters, hiding malicious software behind enticing offers like promises of cash or other prizes.
Minimize your mobile risk with these steps:
- Keep your device software up to date for the latest security protection.
- Use a PIN or password to unlock your device. Make it different from your other passwords.
- Use a biometric login if your device has a fingerprint sensor.
- Only download apps from reputable sources such as the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
- Be suspicious of email and social media requests from strangers. Social media sites are a favorite target for fraudsters.
- Always look for “https” in the URL when browsing or shopping online. This indicates an added level of security for that site.
- Don’t open text messages if you’re uncertain of the source. The message may contain malicious software that could compromise your device. When in doubt, delete the text.
- Common types of fraud to be on the lookout for.
- Keep personal or account information tucked away in a single place where only you and trusted individuals know where to find it.
- Provide information only to trusted sources. Never give information to individuals with whom you did not initiate the contact, or have not confirmed their business or identity.
- Reduce the amount of mail sent to you. Envelopes can be stolen from your mailbox or trash. Choose electronic statement options (Unitus offers this service through uOnline or over the phone at our contact center).
- Opt-out of pre-approved credit offers by calling 1-888-567-8688 or visiting optoutprescreen.com.
- Frequently monitor your account statements and history online for unauthorized transactions.
- Check your credit report for discrepancies on a regular basis. You can obtain a free credit report from each reporting agency once a year by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com.
Staying Safe In The Cloud
The cloud is becoming more and more ubiquitous in our everyday lives – you might have your calendar in the cloud, plenty of personal information in the cloud, nearly your whole life in the cloud!
Watch this 4-minute video to find out how to keep yourself safe when using the cloud.