Scams, scams…go away! Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Spam, shams, and other scams are on the rise. Fraudsters use clever schemes to defraud millions of people for billions of dollars every year.
Fraudsters are crafty. They pressure people to make important decisions on the spot by using innovative schemes and new twists on existing age-old scams. Their multi-channel approach can involve phone calls, emails, online banking, and mobile technology. Fraudsters look for victims who find their stories convincing and will willingly share sensitive information, which can be used to authorize and transact wires, ACH, plastic card, and other types of transactions. Unfortunately, the fraudulent transaction is often a legit exchange based upon a fairy tale.
Educate yourself with the tips and signs of fraud and scams below. If you believe you have fallen victim to a scam or identity theft, click here to learn more about what to do. This web page is comprised of information from the Nebraska Attorney General website and the Credit Union National Association.
How to prevent falling victim to a scam:
- Let us know when something seems off, fishy, or ‘too good to be true.’
- Regularly review your account statements, history, and other financial documents.
- Check your credit report for inaccuracies or accounts you don’t recognize. You can review your credit report for free once a year at www.annualcreditreport.com
- Be direct. Don’t be afraid to hang up the phone or shut the door on unwanted solicitations.
- Never pay money up front to collect a prize.
- Be aware that wiring money is just like sending cash. Once it’s sent, it’s gone for good.
- Don’t carry your social security card, birth certificate, or passport in your purse or wallet, except when absolutely necessary.
- Call law enforcement immediately if you think you have been victimized.
- Shred or destroy personal confidential information you no longer need such as credit card and bank statements, insurance forms, credit applications, blank checks or any other document with your name, account number, social security number or birthdate.
Prevalent scams include:
- Identity theft occurs when someone fraudulently uses your personal identifying information to take out a loan, open accounts, obtain credit cards or identification, get a tax refund, or do other things that involve impersonating you. Warning signs of identity theft include:
- You are denied credit.
- You get a notice from the IRS about a tax debt that you do not believe is yours.
- You find charges on your credit card or withdrawals from your account that you don’t remember making.
- Personal information, credit cards, ATM cards, checks, or IDs have been stolen from you.
- You suspect someone has fraudulently changed your mailing address.
- Your credit card bills stop coming.
- You get bills that aren’t yours.
- You find something wrong with your credit report, such as loans you didn’t take out or accounts you don’t remember opening.
- A debt collector calls about debts you don’t believe you owe.
- Impostor Scams: Scammers may create fake personas to get you to believe that their story is legitimate. Warning signs include:
- You receive a call or email alleging you’ve won a prize or that something is terribly wrong – taxes are unpaid, your government benefits will be lost, a family member is in trouble, or your computer has been compromised.
- The caller asks you to send them money immediately -preferably by wire transfer or gift card. Credit cards or checks are discouraged.
- The caller may ask for access to your computer or other confidential information such as your Social Security number, date of birth, bank account, or credit card numbers.
- The caller is insistent and offers to call you back or stays on the line while you do what they are asking you to do.
- Check scams swindling people through secret shoppers, prizes, or romance offers. These “too good to be true scams” often involve receiving a check or ACH deposit and then returning a portion of the funds to the scammers with the rest as ‘yours to keep.’ The check or ACH is eventually returned, leaving you on the hook for the full amount of the check.
- Foreign Lottery Scams happens when scammers pressure you to send money immediately via wire transfer or prepaid card to cover fees and taxes for your winnings. Warning signs include:
- Phantom Riches: News of an offer sounding too good to be true, but one with strings attached.
- Urgency: You are pressured to make an immediate decision, take immediate action.
- Payment via Money Transfer: Upfront payment by money transfer is required prior to receiving your free prize, gift card, prepaid card, or other payment.
- Malware used in phishing, smishing (text), or website spoofing campaigns are used to steal online banking login or other authentication credentials.
- Keep your computer and all software you use up-to-date
- Look for the ‘Secure’ lock icon on your URL bar (or look for ‘https://’ when logging into any website with a username or password, or where you are submitting personal information.
- Report any Scam or Suspicious Activity to the Nebraska Attorney General on their website, which can be found here.
So, what can you do?
- Let us know when something seems off, fishy, or ‘too good to be true’. Our decades of experience can help us point you in the right direction and we can give you advice about a check or call you may have received.
- Trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, follow-up inquisitively to learn more. In some cases, refusing member service due to a potential scam is the only way out.
If you believe you have fallen victim to identity theft or other financial scams:
- Contact the Nebraska Attorney General if you believe you have been a victim of a scam, identity theft, or other suspicious financial transaction. The Attorney General’s website can be found here.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) if you believe you have been a victim of a scam, identity theft, or other suspicious financial transactions. The FTC website can be found here.
You can make a difference by knowing which scams are hot, remaining vigilant and letting us know when something isn’t quite right.