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Scams

In order to provide the best possible protection for your financial well-being, this page provides information about recent scams that have been reported by members and staff.

Tips

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it likely is
  • Never wire money, purchase gift cards, or send money orders to someone you don’t know or met on the internet, regardless of what they promise.
  • Fraudsters may have information like email address, phone numbers, social media pages and similar personal data that they use to gain your trust and use against you.
  • Fraudsters may use checks or documents that look real to trick you.
  • Never let someone you don’t know convince or coerce you into getting a credit card or opening an account.

Popular Scams

Romance Scams: A romance scam is a confidence trick involving insincere romantic intentions towards a victim, gaining their affection, and then using that goodwill to commit fraud. Fraudulent acts may involve access to the victims' money, bank accounts, credit cards, passports, e-mail accounts, or national identification numbers or by getting the victims to commit financial fraud on their behalf.

Narratives used to extract money from the victims of romantic scams include the following:

  • The scammer says they need the victim to send money to pay for a passport.
  • The scammer meets the victim on an online dating site, lives in a foreign country, falls in love, but needs money to join the victim in his/her country.
  • The scammer says they are being held against their will for failure to pay a bill or requires money for hospital bills.
  • The scammer says they need the money to pay for the phone bills in order to continue communicating with the victim.
  • The scammer says they need the money for their or their parents' urgent medical treatment.
  • The scammer says they need the money to successfully graduate before they can visit the victim.

Work at Home Scams: Internet Businesses, Envelope Stuffing, Assembly or Craft Work, Rebate Processing, Medical Billing, Mystery Shopper, Multilevel Marketing

Craigslist Scams: Although most online transactions are safe, you should use caution when selling items on websites such as Craigslist. Unfortunately, some people use these websites make promises regarding payments through PayPal but do not follow through with the payment. Look for common warning signs that someone may be trying to scam you:

  • The buyer can’t meet in person because of a number of reasons
  • The buyer requested you send the item to their “shipping agent.”
  • The buyer offered you more money than you were asking.
  • The buyer asked you to send money through Western Union for MoneyGram to the “shipping agent”.
  • The buyer only sends you text messages and won’t speak to you on the phone.
  • If you received an email seemingly from PayPal that states you received money, look for these signs to see if the email is fake:

-The email does not address you by first and last name
-The email says the money is on “hold” until you complete an action (i.e. send money through Western Union, or click a link to submit a tracking number).

If any of these things happen to you, end communication with the potential buyer. Always remember that Craigslist and other similar sites are intended for local pick up.

Social Media:

  • Set your profiles to private and restrict your social media contacts to people you know personally.
  • Do be on the lookout for suspicious posts, including limited-time offers, offers that seem too good to be true, and requests for account information.
  • Do be wary of individuals you meet through social media sites, especially if they promise romance.
  • Don’t respond to online solicitations for “easy money”.
  • Don’t overshare on social media by providing information used by your bank or other companies to verify your identity.
  • Don’t fill out every field on your social media profile such as your phone number and home address – including these details increases the chance of identity theft.

Prize, Sweepstakes or Lottery Scams: You’ve just won $5,000! Or $5 million! Or maybe it’s a fabulous diamond ring, or luxury vacation? More likely, it’s a prize scam, and you’ll find the prize isn’t worth much – if you get a prize at all. Here’s one way to think about it: if you have to pay money, it’s not a prize.

Microsoft Scam: We’ve heard reports of people receiving phone calls from someone claiming to be Microsoft, saying that the potential victim has a virus that is sending information from their computer. This is a scam. Microsoft does not make unsolicited calls to help fix your computer. If you receive an unsolicited call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft Tech Support, hang up. Unless you have initiated contact with Microsoft about a computer problem you’re having, you should dismiss as frauds from any calls, emails, online chat dialogues, and the like from folks who claim they are from Microsoft and have spotted something wrong with your computer.

Card Cracking: In this scenario, scammers use social media to post opportunities about making quick and easy money. They ask for your debit card and PIN and/or mobile banking username and password to deposit a fake check into your account. They may ask you to report your card lost or stolen, or that your credentials have been compromised in order to seek reimbursement from the bank. In exchange, scammers promise you a portion of the funds from your deposit. After gaining access to your account, scammers can transfer funds or deposit phony checks into your account and quickly make withdrawals before your bank identifies the checks as illegitimate.

Grandparents Scam: Fraudsters pretending to be your grandchildren calling and asking for money. Don’t fall for it.

A telephone call is made to an elderly person with a family member who is supposedly in some kind of trouble, usually claiming to be a grandson or granddaughter. These calls are often placed late at night or early in the morning when most people are not thinking that clearly. Callers assume that their targets have grandchildren and will usually have several other people in on the scam, such as a bail bondsman, the arresting police officer, a lawyer, a doctor at a hospital, or some other person.

The first voice on the phone is usually by the scammer pretending to be the grandchild sounding upset and typically stating that there are only a few moments to talk. The caller may say that they have a cold if the victim does not recognize their voice. Their story generally follows a familiar line: they were traveling in another country with a friend, and after a car accident or legal infraction, they are in jail and need bail money wired to a Western Union account as soon as possible for their quick release.

The caller does not want anyone told about the incident, especially not family. Before the victim can ask too much about the situation the phony child will hand the phone over to the accomplice who will then request money to be transferred to release the grandchild from jail. While this is commonly called the grandparent scam, criminals may also claim to be a family friend, a niece or nephew, or another family member.