Common Fraud Schemes

Phishing e-mail messages are designed to steal your identity. They ask for personal data, or direct you to Web sites or phone numbers where they ask you to provide personal data.  Phishing e-mail messages take a number of forms. They will often pose as financial institutions or companies like eBay or PayPal and send spam or pop-up messages to get consumers to reveal personal information.

Phishing with text messaging on smart phones. Victims are instructed to visit a fake Web site.

Scams that use telephone systems to garner confidential identification information are called vishing scams. In vishing attacks crooks claim to be with legitimate financial institutions or other entities. They ask consumers to "verify" or "re-submit" personal information such as bank account and credit card numbers, Social Security Numbers, passwords, and personal identification numbers.

Secret-Shopper Scam
Scams that use official-looking letters in the mail informing someone that they have been selected as secret shoppers. A fraudulent check for several thousand dollars is enclosed with each letter. The victim is then asked to evaluate service, cash the check, keep several hundred dollars as compensation, and wire back the remaining proceeds. The fraudulent check then bounces and you are out the money.

IRS Scams
Calls and e-mails claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service. These fake IRS contacts are informing victims that in order to receive additional tax-stimulus rebates, they need to verify bank account information. Do not give out personal account information over the phone or via e-mail.

Lottery/Sweepstakes Scams
Unless you entered a lottery or bought a ticket to win a prize, these are scams. Be particularly wary if you receive a “winners” check in the mail with instructions to cash it and wire back some of the money to cover taxes on the winnings. The fraudulent check then bounces and you are out the wired money.

Tricking victims into downloading illicit software when they open an attachment. Spyware records keystrokes to get credit card numbers and passwords.

Counterfeit Bills
Scammers are washing ink off $5 bills and reprinting what appear to be $50 or $100 bills on the original paper. If you receive a large bill which looks suspicious, hold it face forward up to the light. If it is counterfeit, you will see a watermark of Abraham Lincoln in the right-hand corner and also a thin ribbon inside the bill which reads “USA FIVE.” Should you come across a counterfeit bill, report it to authorities immediately.

Property Theft
Stealing wallets and purses, mail, bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers, and new checks or tax information.

Dumpster Diving
Going through trash to find bills and papers with personal information on it.  Make sure you are carefully shredding any important papers, statements, bills or documents before throwing them in the trash.

Enhanced Security Measures
As a result of the spike in fraudulent payment documents, please note that when presenting checks to be cashed, your credit union staff may ask additional questions and utilize holds for your protection. We ask your patience and understanding.

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