Millions of Americans are victims of fraud each year and collectively they lose billions of dollars. Staying educated on the different tactics fraudsters use will help keep you from becoming a victim. Browse our Fraud Resource Center below to learn more.
Criminals create fake online profiles and trick victims into believing they are in a trusted relationship. They use this relationship to persuade the victim to give money, personal and financial information, or items of value to the scammer. While many romance scams begin on dating sites, a significant number start with a direct message received on social media.
These scams typically start when you receive a letter stating that you’ve won a lottery or sweepstakes, along with a cashier’s check. The letter tells victims to deposit the check and wire a portion of the money back to cover the taxes and fees on your winnings. People often wire the money and then discover that the check is fraudulent. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Emergency scams usually target parents and grandparents. Someone calls or sends a message claiming to be a child or grandchild in trouble and urges the victim to wire money immediately to help with an emergency. Many victims fail to verify the story with other family members or friends until it is too late, and the money has been sent.
The most popular employment scams begin when your new “employer” sends you a fraudulent check and asks you to do one or more of the following: Send part of that money to third parties using cash apps like Venmo and Zelle or wire transfer services like Western Union; Buy gift cards and send the bar codes to third parties; Tell you to repay them an apparent overpayment from your paycheck via a cash app or wire transfer.
Tech support scammers may call and pretend to be a computer technician from a well-known company or lure you with a pop-up window when you’re online. They want you to pay for tech support services you don’t need, to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. They often ask you to pay by wiring money, putting money on a gift card, prepaid card, or using a money transfer app.
Typical shopping scams start with a fake website, mobile app, or social media advertisement. Some fake stores mimic trusted retailers with familiar logos and a URL that’s easily mistaken for the real thing. Many of these websites offer products for very low prices. They’ll either deliver a knockoff product or no product at all. Scammers will often ask you to pay using a money order, pre-loaded money card, or wire transfer.
Scammers often exploit natural disasters and other emergencies to play on donors’ sympathy and take advantage of their generosity. Take time to research the charity before you donate to make sure the organization is legitimate. Charity fraud scams can come to you in many forms including emails, social media posts, crowdfunding platforms, cold calls, etc.
A member of Spectra was contacted stating that they were winners of a Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes and was going to receive $8 million. The member was told to send money by wire/cashier’s check to pay the taxes and fees to receive the prize.
A member was contacted by someone stating they were a lawyer and that their son was arrested and needed immediate cash to be released from jail.vWe prevented the transaction and recommended they contact their son directly which confirmed the son was in no legal trouble.
A member was in correspondence with a fraudster who the member thought was their romantic partner. They had been corresponding for a while to build the trust and then was asked to wire funds overseas to the partner to come visit. The member was cautioned by staff regarding this transaction but was adamant to get this processed. Unfortunately, the funds were sent out per the member’s request, and we were unable to collect.
A member was searching online to purchase a vehicle. The vehicle they found was across the country and the member was given instructions on how to remit payment. Payment was sent via wire transfer and the vehicle was never received. After doing more research, the member discovered that the address used was fraudulent and attempts to recall the wire were unsuccessful.
Remember that companies generally DO NOT contact you to ask for your username or password.
Make a habit of checking your statements, even if the account hasn’t been used by you.
DO NOT click on anything in an unsolicited email or text message.
If you are contacted by a company that is requesting your information, look up the company’s phone number on your own. Don’t use one a potential scammer is providing and call the company to ask if the request is legitimate.
Carefully examine the email address, URL, and spelling used in any correspondence. Scammers use slight differences to trick your eye and gain your trust.
Be careful what you download. Never open an email attachment from someone you do not know and be wary of email attachments forwarded to you.
Set up two-factor (or multi-factor) authentication on any account that allows it, and never disable it.
Be careful of what info you share online. Openly sharing pet names, schools you attended, family members, and birthdays can give a scammer all the info they need to guess your password or answer your security questions.
Use unique passwords for each website. Your passwords also should be longer and more complex (using upper- and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols)
Avoid clicking on links that appear in unsolicited texts, even if it’s a message notifying you of lottery winnings, job offers, or a virus threat to your smartphone. The link could launch malware that collects your personal information without your knowledge.
Spectra CU is not responsible for the overall website content, security, or privacy policies on third-party sites. This is just a kind reminder to consult their policies for more information.