Fraud Center

(November 15 - 21)

International Fraud Awareness Week

  1. Money Mule Scam

    How can you avoid money mule scams?

    • Don’t accept a job that asks you to transfer money. They may tell you to send money to a “client” or “supplier.” Say no. You may be helping a scammer move stolen money.
    • Never send money to collect a prize. That’s always a scam, and they might be trying to get you to move stolen money.
    • Don’t send money back to an online love interest who’s sent you money. Also always a scam — and another a way to get you to move stolen money.

    Criminals are good at making up reasons to help them move money. Don’t do it. The money may be from other people they scammed. You may be helping criminals hurt people just like you.

    If you think you might be involved in a money mule or money transfer scam, stop transferring money. Notify your bank, the wire transfer service, or any gift card companies involved. Then, report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

    Please share this information and the FTC’s new infographic, developed with the American Bankers Association Foundation. People may be embarrassed or afraid to talk about their experiences, but you can help. A simple phone call, email or text, saying “Look what I just found” may make a difference in someone’s life.

    https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2020/03/whats-money-mule-scam

  2. Romance Scams

    Millions of people turn to online dating apps or social networking sites to meet someone. But instead of finding romance, many find a scammer trying to trick them into sending money. Read about the stories romance scammers make up and learn the #1 tip for avoiding a romance scam.

    In 2019, people reported losing $201 million to romance scams. People reported losing more money to romance scams in the past two years than to any other fraud reported to the FTC.

    Romance scammers create fake profiles on dating sites and apps, or contact their targets through popular social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, or Google Hangouts. The scammers strike up a relationship with their targets to build their trust, sometimes talking or chatting several times a day. Then, they make up a story and ask for money.

    The Lies Romance Scammers Tell

    They’ll often say they’re living or traveling outside of the United States. We’ve heard about scammers who say they are:

    • working on an oil rig
    • in the military
    • a doctor with an international organization

    We’ve heard about romance scammers asking their targets for money to:

    • pay for a plane ticket or other travel expenses
    • pay for surgery or other medical expenses
    • pay customs fees to retrieve something
    • pay off gambling debts
    • pay for a visa or other official travel documents

    Scammers ask people to pay:

    • by wiring money
    • with reload cards like MoneyPak or gift cards from vendors like Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, or Steam

    Scammers ask you to pay by wiring money, with reload cards, or with gift cards because they can get cash quickly and remain anonymous. They also know the transactions are almost impossible to reverse.

    How to Avoid Losing Money to a Romance Scammer

    Here’s the bottom line: Never send money or gifts to a sweetheart you haven’t met in person.

    If you suspect a romance scam:

    • Stop communicating with the person immediately.
    • Talk to someone you trust, and pay attention if your friends or family say they’re concerned about your new love interest.
    • Do a search for the type of job the person has to see if other people have heard similar stories. For example, you could do a search for “oil rig scammer” or “US Army scammer.” You can also browse the comments on our blog posts about romance scams to hear other people’s stories:
    • Do a reverse image search of the person’ profile picture to see if it’s associated with another name or with details that don’t match up – those are signs of a scam.

    How to Report a Romance Scam

    If you paid a romance scammer with a gift card, contact the company that issued the card right away. Tell them you paid a scammer with the gift card and ask if they can refund your money.

    If you think it’s a scam, report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. Notify the website or app where you met the scammer, too.

    https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/what-you-need-know-about-romance-scams

  1. 5 COVID-19 Scams to Watch Out For

    1. The fake cure scam. Scammers are peddling bogus cures and vaccines. If you’re offered a drug or vaccine to fight coronavirus — especially by a company you’ve never heard of — you’re looking at a scam.

    2. Phishing emails from the “World Health Organization” (WHO). Scammers are sending out emails which appear to be from the WHO, but are really an attempt to get you to share personal information.

    3. Fake charities. Everyone wants to help those stricken by the virus, but be sure to check out the authenticity of a charity before making your donation.

    4. Malicious websites. Scammers have set up websites full of information on COVID-19 with the intention of gaining access to your device. Don’t download any links or open attachments from non-reputable sources.

    5. Fake funding scams. Criminals invent a “research team” supposedly on the verge of discovering a cure for COVID-19 — they just need your donation. Of course, all funds donated to this alleged team will go directly into the scammers’ pockets. Only donate to verified causes.

  2. Phishing spoofs US Federal Reserve to steal online bank accounts
  3. Don’t Let Scammers Get Your Stimulus Check!

    Millions of Americans have received or are awaiting a gift from Uncle Sam to help them get through the Coronavirus pandemic. As part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed on March 27, the federal government is sending out $290 billion in stimulus checks over the next half a year.

    The first round of checks made its way to millions of checking accounts across the country during the second week of April and the next round is expected to be sent within a few weeks. The remainder will be mailed out over the following 20 weeks.

    Unfortunately, scammers are doing all they can to get their hands on these checks before they reach the rightful recipients. The best way to keep your money safe from scammers is to arm yourself with information about the checks and to learn how to spot the scams.

    To help you keep every dollar that’s coming to you and avoid falling victim to these scams, Lebanon Federal Credit Union has compiled this comprehensive guide on the stimulus check process and the connected scams.

    Important information about the stimulus checks

    Many Americans aren’t aware of this crucial fact: You do not need to take any action to receive your stimulus check. There is no form to fill out, no number to call, and no information to share. Every eligible citizen should receive the check without having to take any action.

    The feds are using the most recent tax filing information they have from each eligible citizen to send out the checks. They will use information from 2019 tax returns to determine the check amount and get recipients their money. Those who haven’t yet filed taxes this year (the tax deadline has been extended to July 15), will have the information from their  2018 taxes used. Social Security recipients, and anyone else not required to file taxes, do not need to take action either; the government already has their information on file.

    There is no need to share information, such as a Social Security number, checking account number or home address, with anyone. There is no need to “sign up” for your check either. All you need to do is wait for your check to land in your mailbox or in your account. Remember the simple rule: There is no need to take any action to receive your check.

    When you may need to take action

    The only exception to the above rule applies to those who have not yet filed taxes for 2018. These citizens may need to submit a simple tax return to receive their check.

    Also, the government has shared that it can only deposit the money directly into checking accounts if it has this information on file for the recipient. This criterion includes nearly all citizens who’ve received a tax refund for the taxes they filed in 2018 or 2019. Individuals receiving their checks via direct deposit will likely have their money sooner. Consequently, many people want to share this information with the IRS before the checks are sent out. It can be done via this link, which can also be used to look up the status of your check. Unfortunately, though, many people have reported that the IRS site has not been working properly recently, which is likely due to heavy traffic.

    How the scams play out

    The scammers trying to nab stimulus checks count on victims thinking they need to take action to get their checks. They use a variety of means, including phone calls, emails, text messages and social media posts, to ask victims to share information that will allegedly enable them to receive their checks. They may ask for the victim’s Social Security number, date of birth, PayPal account information, checking account details, home address or other personal information, claiming it is a necessary “sign up” step in the stimulus check distribution.

    Alternatively, they may claim they can help you receive your check earlier through their website if you share certain information with them. They’ll often use sophisticated spoofing methods to make it appear as if they are legitimate government representatives. Once they have this information, though, they will reach out to the IRS to change your information so your check goes directly into their own accounts. Or, they may hack your account to withdraw the stimulus money as soon as it arrives.

    If you receive any phone calls or messages asking for your personal information so you can receive your check, you are looking at a scam. Do not respond. Report the scam to the FTC at ftc.gov. The federal government has made it clear it will not be reaching out to citizens and asking for information before sending out checks. It has also shared that there is no way for anyone to gain early access to the stimulus check money.

    Stay safe!

  4. COVID-19 Texting Scam

    The coronavirus pandemic has been raging on American shores for several months, but scammers are still finding new ways to exploit the panic, fear and uncertainty surrounding the virus to con people out of their money. The latest in a string of coronavirus scams involves a simple text message with criminal intent.

    Here’s all you need to know about the coronavirus text scam.

    The scam starts out with the victim receiving an alarming text message informing them that someone they’ve recently been in contact with is infected with COVID-19. They are then told to self-quarantine and to get tested for the virus.

    Here is the actual text from one of these scams:

    “Someone who came in contact with you tested positive or has shown symptoms for COVID-19 & recommends you self-isolate/get tested.”

    The text also includes a link for the recipient to click for more information. Many unsuspecting people who read these messages innocently click on the link and play right into the scammers’ hands. The link provides the scammer with access to the victim’s device. The scammer can then scrape the victim’s personal information off the phone and use it to empty the victim’s accounts, open lines of credit in their name or even steal their identity.

    If you receive a text message like the one described above, do not respond or click on any embedded links. Report the text to local law enforcement agencies, place the number associated with the message on your phone’s “block number” list and delete the message. You can also warn your friends about the circulating scam to keep them from falling victim.

    Stay vigilant and stay safe!

  1. MyCardRules™

    Take Full Control of Your Cards

    MyCardRules™ lets you control how, when, where and who uses your cards

    These days you can control your TV … your thermostat … even your lights — all right from your mobile device.

    Wouldn’t it be great to have that kind of control over your cards, too? Well, now you can.

    The MyCardRules app lets you take FULL CONTROL of all your card spending. Just download the app and you can:

    • Instantly turn a card OFF if it’s lost, stolen or being misused
    • Set transactions to have a specific spending limit
    • Get an alert every time a card is used
    • Decline in-store or online transactions based upon your settings

    You can even set your cards so that they can be used only when your mobile device is nearby, and restrict purchases at certain types of stores and merchants.

    Learn More >>

  2. Securing Your Identity

    Securing your Account Information & Identity

    Keeping your account safe

    • Use a complex password and memorize the password. Do not write down your passwords
      or store them in your browsers or other computer programs.
    • Do not reply to suspicious emails, text messages, phone calls or voice messages.
    • Do not use online banking on public or shared computers.
    • Always sign off when you have completed your transactions in your online account

    Keeping your computer safe

    • Always use firewall and anti-virus software on your computer. Keep your computer up to
      date with the latest virus definitions and software patches.
    • Never download software from unknown sources such as a pop up or email.
      Keeping your identity safe
    • Never share personal information by telephone or email.
    • Review your monthly statements for fraudulent activity.

    Keeping your identity safe

    • Review your credit reports annually for erroneous information. You can receive your
      credit report for free at www.annualcreditreport.com
  3. LFCU's Card Monitoring Service

    Fraud Prevention Service

    In our continuing efforts to keep your Lebanon Federal Credit Union accounts secure, we’ve
    improved our alert system for potential fraud. Currently LFCU’s card monitoring service notifies
    members by email and telephone alerts. Starting June 8th, text messaging will also be used to
    alert members of potential fraud.
    Here’s how it works:

    1. When potential fraud is detected, you will receive an automatic email notification from
      Lebanon Federal Credit Union, with the option to reply with “Fraud” or “No Fraud.”
    2. One minute after the email, you will receive a text alert from 32874 between 7am and
      9pm, which also has the “Fraud” or “No Fraud” option.
    3. If there is no response received from you, five minutes after the text alert, you will
      receive automatic phone calls to confirm or deny fraud.
      Remember – our messages will never ask for your PIN or account number.
      Verification of Zip Code or phone number may be required.
      Any questions, please call 717-272-2210.
  4. Seven Strategies to Protect Your New Smartphone from Phony Apps

    While many Pennsylvanians found a new smartphone under the tree last month, Secretary of Banking and Securities Robin L. Wiessmann urges consumers to consider several strategies to protect their new smartphones from phony apps that can steal information, take over that new device, and wreak havoc on personal networks.

    Wiessmann explains that these phony mobile apps are promoted on websites or through marketing emails, which appear to be legitimate offers from well-known companies. However, phony apps are designed to fool users into sharing credit card, banking, or other personal information. Some of these apps also contain viruses, malware, or ransomware, which can take over the phone and steal personal information of people stored in email address books and contact lists.

    According to research firm RiskIQ, criminals using phony smartphone apps focus their efforts on imitating the leading brands in e-commerce. These brands have thousands of blacklisted apps that contain branded terms in the title or description.

    Wiessmann points to several strategies that can help consumers protect their smartphones:

    1. Use official app stores. Download apps only from official app stores such as Google or Apple. Though keep in mind the screening processes offered by these official stores are not foolproof and you should still investigate any potential downloads before proceeding.
    2. Stay up to date. Keep your phone’s operating system up to date, especially with system patches tagged as “critical security update,” which should be applied as soon as possible.
    3. Protect personal information. Be careful of apps that ask for permission to access information unrelated to the performance of the app, like access to contacts, text messages, administrative features, stored passwords, or banking and credit card info.
    4. Don’t be fooled by reviews. Rave reviews can be forged, and a high number of downloads can simply indicate a threat actor was successful in fooling a lot of victims. Before downloading an app, be sure to look at the developer—if it’s not a brand you recognize or has a strange appearance or spelling, think twice. You can even do a Google search on the developer for more clues about its reputation.
    5. Make sure to research each app. For instance, poor grammar in the description can be evidence of quick and careless development and the lack of marketing professionalism that are the hallmarks of malware campaigns.
    6. Delete what you’re not using. If you are no longer using an app on your phone, delete or uninstall it.
    7. Use parental controls. Consider implementing parental controls on your child’s phone so you can review any downloads.

    © 2018 by Pennsylvania Credit Union Association. All Rights Reserved.

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