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Explore the latest happenings at Kirtland FCU and learn about important topics from around the financial world. Here’s your insight!
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All Posts > Fraud

COVID-19 Security Fraud

Scam artists will stop at nothing to exploit the fear, social isolation and uncertainty fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic. “People are more vulnerable emotionally than ever,” says psychologist Stacey Wood, a professor at Scripps College in California. “That makes it easier to fall for the increasing number of scams out there."

Criminals are preying on this new vulnerability with everything from fake work-at-home jobs and fraudulent charities to money-seeking romance schemers lurking on dating sites. Other scammers include government impostors who are targeting your stimulus check. How do they do it? Here are six psychological tactics scammers don't want you to know about.

A friendly voice
Before the coronavirus, 1 in 4 older adults were socially isolated; today that number is far higher. “When you're lonely, a friendly voice on the phone or a friendly message on social media seems like a real bright spot,” says Emily Allen, senior vice president for programs at AARP Foundation. Scammers use information they've gleaned about you online to strengthen the bond. They shower you with compliments and get you to like them in order to make you more willing to believe their lies.

Official-sounding sources
“In uncertain times, we rely more than ever on what other people tell us. Scammers may falsely identify themselves as being from the IRS or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” says Robert Cialdini, regents emeritus professor of psychology and marketing at Arizona State University. “They misquote or make up advice from experts. And they create fake organizations that sound impressive, to fool you.”

Using your intelligence against you
"Some people get drawn in when scammers compliment their intelligence and ability to understand a so-called opportunity,” Cialdini says. “Others think they're smarter than a scammer and can spot a phony. Research shows that, among older adults, those who think they're the most invulnerable to persuasion are most likely to fall for scam artists."

Helping in hard times
Schemes involving fake charities, online romantic partners in need and grandchildren marooned away from home without cash are nothing new. But they're heating up as people yearn for ways to help others and as job losses and travel restrictions make scammers’ stories sound more believable than ever, Wood says.

Relieving your new anxieties
Job loss, stock market tumbles, scary virus risks — scammers are manipulating your fears in these uncertain times with too-good-to-be-true “opportunities” like fake work-at-home offers, bogus investment schemes and phony chances to buy face masks, hand sanitizer, coronavirus tests and fake remedies.

You gotta act now!
Goading you to either make a fast decision or miss out on scarce supplies or a new job plays on today's anxieties, Wood says. “When you're fearful or stressed, you're more likely to make impulsive decisions,” she says. “Scammers know this.”

So how can you stay safe from these tactics?

4 Ways to Stop a Scam Before It Starts
  1. Cut them off. Toss, delete or hang up on unsolicited offers. Don't answer the phone if you don't recognize the caller ID. Don't click on links or provide personal info requested in an email.
  2. End suspicious online friendships. This is not the time to trust strangers, no matter how nice they seem. In fact, scammers are professionals at being “nice.” Put on your toughest filters and cut off contact the moment someone you don't know well asks for info or financial help.
  3. Cultivate your real friendships. Be in frequent touch with family, friends and neighbors who can be sounding boards on unusual offers. Visit connect2affect.org to assess how much social isolation and distancing are affecting your mental and physical health, AARP's Allen says.
  4. Do your homework. If someone claims they're from the IRS or your bank, call to verify. Learn more about popular coronavirus scams now.

COVID-19 Security Fraud

“Grandma, it’s John. I need help.”

“John? Are you ok? You sound funny.”

I’m in the hospital, Grandma. I need you to send me some money so I can pay my bills because they won’t let me go.”

“What? Your mom didn’t mention that to me!”

“Please don’t tell her, I don’t want her to worry. I’m okay, I just really need money to pay the hospital bills.”

Grandchildren hold a special place in the hearts of their grandparents. That affection, combined with the higher percentage of financial resources and trust that are hallmarks of this generation, is making grandparents a juicy target for scammers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In this fake scenario above, you can see the trademarks of the classic Grandparent Scam. A claim to be a grandchild or other family member OR a claim to be a bail bondsman, attorney, or some other law enforcement agent calling in regards to a family member. A plea for help, or a threat. A request or demand to not involve others in the family. And a scenario that may or may not be tied to the coronavirus epidemic.

Criminals continue to employ the Grandparent Scam for a simple reason: it works. And in the midst of the pandemic, reports of this particular threat are increasing. According to an AARP report, in New Jersey and New York alone, roughly 100 victims have lost about $1 million in recent months.

Here’s a look at the number of such cases reported to the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Network. Cases totalled 91,585 from the beginning of 2015 through March 31 of this year.

Since 2015, some 91,585 people have been victims of impostor scammers who purport to be family members or friends, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says.

"In these days of coronavirus concerns, their lies can be particularly compelling,” FTC attorney Lisa Weintraub Schifferle warns. “They pull at your heartstrings so they can trick you into sending money before you realize it's a scam,” she says.

And requests, at least in busy cities like New York, are not always for a digital delivery of money. In fact, the FBI has arrested scammers who send a taxi cab or even come to the victims home to pick up the money, acting as a go-between for the grandparent and their “grandchild”.

Knowing the names of family members or referring to family vacations or other events is NOT proof of validity. In the age of social media, it’s scary easy for a criminal to gain access to that sort of information.

Amy Nofziger, who directs AARP's Fraud Watch Network helpline (877-908-3360), likewise reports an increase in grandparent scam complaints as people isolate at home. Nofziger says the scams exact a financial and emotional toll on people; some have even lost their life savings.

"We're all very emotional during these COVID-related times, and these criminals want to prey on your emotions,” she says. “And nothing is more emotional than thinking that someone you love is in trouble and needs your help."

Even victims’ grandchildren — while blameless — may feel aftershocks of guilt and remorse, “so it’s really something that affects the whole family,” Nofziger says.

How to stop a grandparent scam
And if you get a scam call, report it to local police, to the FBI's Internet Complaint Center and to the FTC.

Here’s advice from the FBI and other authorities on how to thwart a grandparent’s scam.
  • Use privacy controls on Facebook and other social media platforms to limit what strangers can learn about you and your family.
  • When you suspect that someone who calls, texts or emails you is a scammer, take a breath. Slow it down. Contact the family member who purportedly is in trouble and needs cash. Such calls may come late at night and the background may be noisy, adding to confusion. Never act in haste.
  • If you suspect a scam, tell the caller directly: “I am not participating in this discussion.” Consider writing that down on a piece of paper and keeping it near your telephone.
  • If the caller purports to be a bail bondsman, ask where your relative is being held and contact the facility directly. Or call your local police department, where officers may be able to call the jail and check out the story.
  • Resist the urge to act immediately — no matter how dramatic the story is.
  • Verify the caller’s identity. Ask questions that a stranger couldn’t  possibly answer. Check the story out with someone else in your family or circle of friends, even if you’ve been told to keep it a secret.
  • Don’t send cash, gift cards or money transfers — once the scammer gets them, they’re gone.
“We want to warn as many people as possible so that they might thwart the nefarious efforts of these schemers,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie. “Awareness is a victim’s best defense. Don’t allow criminals to separate you from your hard earned savings. Call, verify, report.”

If you receive this type of call, remain calm and resist the pressure to act quickly. Get as much information as possible, including the phone number, if possible, of the caller. Hang up and call a family member to verify the information or call a trusted friend to ask for help. Report the call to your local police department or the FBI. Never wire money, especially overseas, based on a request made over the phone or in an email. Once you send it, you can’t get it back.

For more information, read the FTC’s guidance on Family Emergency Scams.

And if you get a scam call, report it to local police, to the FBI’s Internet Complaint Center and to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

COVID-19 Security Fraud

When a crisis hits, it’s important to stay on top of your finances as best you can and monitor your credit.

Due to the hardship caused by COVID-19, all U.S. consumers can get free weekly online credit reports now through April 20, 2021, from TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax by visiting annualcreditreport.com.

As the coronavirus outbreak continues to evolve, your credit might be the last thing on your mind. During times of emergencies though, such as global pandemics or natural disasters, you should know the state of your finances and keep your credit on your radar. Along with your physical health being a top priority, so should the state of your financial health and wellness.

Normally, your credit report is available every 12 months from all three credit bureaus—TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Given the vast number of consumers’ financial health being impacted by the current economic conditions, online access to your report is now available on a weekly basis. Visit annualcreditreport.com and follow the prompts.

Remember your credit report and credit score are two different things, and your report will not include your credit score.
  • A credit report is a statement of your credit activity and current credit situation. It includes a history of your loan payments and status of credit accounts.
  • A credit score is calculated from your credit history and behavior—information found in your credit report.
There are four main ways you can acquire your score, including checking your credit card or other loan statements, talking to a non-profit certified credit counselor, using a credit score service (be sure you know what you are signing up for and how much it really costs!), or buying a score directly from one of the three credit bureaus—TransUnion, Experian, or Equifax.

There are additional ways you can be proactive with your credit. Follow these steps to help keep your credit on solid footing.
  1. Pay your bills on time, if you can. Even if it gets difficult, try to make at least the minimum payment by their due date. Late payments negatively affect your credit score.
  2. Contact your creditors and service providers. If you get to a point where you can’t pay all your bills, contact your creditors and any service providers such as utilities, phone company, etc.
  3. Check your credit regularly. Now is a critical time to make sure your credit reports are accurate. If you identify potential fraud, you can respond before it damages your credit.
  4. Be extra protective of your identity. Unfortunately, during times of crisis, scams and identity theft are at an all-time high. Protecting your personal information is essential. You can place a free security freeze on your credit files which prevents people (good AND bad) from accessing your personal information and using your name to apply for credit.
  5. Get financial assistance, if needed. Certified credit counselors can offer advice on how to repay your debts in a manageable way.
  6. Dispute inaccurate information. If you find inaccurate information when reviewing your credit report, you can file a dispute with each credit bureau. Each bureau has an online dispute center, which is the quickest way to file a dispute.
How to Order Your Credit Report
Don’t contact the credit reporting agencies individually. The free reports are available only through annualcreditreport.com and 1-877-322-8228.

You’ll need to provide your name, address, social security number, and date of birth. If you’ve moved in the last two years, you may need to provide your previous address. For security purposes and to verify your identity, you may be asked for information only you would know, like your monthly mortgage payment.

Beware of “Imposter” Websites
The only website authorized to fill orders for the free annual credit report you are legally entitled to is annualcreditreport.com. Other sites that claim to offer “free credit report” or “free credit monitoring” aren’t part of the legally mandated free annual credit report program and in some cases have strings attached to the “free” product being advertised.

Report Scams
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) works for you—the consumer—to prevent fraud and unfair business practices in the marketplace. If you think you’ve been the victim of a scam, you can file a complaint with the FTC and/or the Attorney General of your state.
 

Security Fraud

2020 is the year of the big 10-year U.S. census, a count of every person in the United States. The 10-year census, as well as the smaller and lesser known annual American Community Surveys, are an essential tool for states and local municipalities, as well as the federal government, to properly budget and allocate resources. 

The surveys ask some pretty unusual questions—such as what time you leave for work—and as such tend to spark more than a few phone calls from citizens concerned about fraud. Because of these unusual questions and the blanket method with which information is collected during the 10-year census, it can be difficult to tell the difference between a legitimate census communication and a fraudster’s attempt at capitalizing on the survey to steal your information.

Census-based fraud can happen year-round and may come in the form of fraudulent mailings, phone calls, e-mails, texts and even in-person visits. 
  
RED FLAGS:
  • You receive an e-mail communication. Like many government agencies, you’ll almost always receive official communication via regular mail.
  • You’re asked for bank information, Social Security numbers, passwords or password hints (such as mother’s maiden name). A real census worker will never as for this information
  • You’re threatened by a census worker or communication. Taking part in the census is required by law, and you can be fined, but not imprisoned, for refusing to do so.
If you experience any one of these, you may be looking at a scam.
  
HOW TO KEEP YOURSELF SAFE
 
DO DON'T
Verify that a census taker who comes to your home is legitimate. They should have a Census Bureau photo ID badge (with a Department of Commerce watermark and an expiration date) and a copy of the letter the bureau sent you. You can also search for an agent’s name in the Census Bureau’s online staff directory. Don’t give your Social Security number, mother’s maiden name, or bank or credit card numbers to someone claiming to be from the Census Bureau. Genuine Census representatives will not ask for this information.
Do confirm that a questionnaire you’ve received is on the Census Bureau’s official list of household or business surveys. Don’t reply, click links or open attachments in a suspicious census e-mail. Forward the message to ois.fraud.reporting@census.gov.
Do contact the bureau’s National Processing Center or the regional office for your state to verify that an American Community Survey or other census communication is genuine. Don’t trust caller ID — scammers can use “spoofing” tools to make it appear they’re calling from a real Census Bureau number. Call the National Processing Center at 800-523-3205, 800-642-0469 or 800-877-8339 (TDD/TTY) to verify that a phone survey is legitimate.
Do check that a census mailing has a return address of Jeffersonville, Ind., the site of the National Processing Center. If it’s from somewhere else, it’s not from the Census Bureau.  
Do check the URL of any supposed Census website. Make sure it has a census.gov domain and is encrypted — look for https:// or a lock symbol in the browser window.  

You can report suspected scams to the regional Census Bureau office serving your state and to the Federal Trade Commission (online or at 877-382-4357).



 

COVID-19 Fraud

Fraudsters have always preyed upon their victims’ emotions. Fear. Love. Worry. Desire to help. 

Emotions have never been higher than in recent weeks, and criminals and thieves are taking advantage of them, and you. According to the AARP, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had received 23,581 consumer complaints related to the outbreak, including more than 12,000 fraud complaints (as of April 21). Victims have reported losses of $17.97 million, with a median loss of $553.



Here are some of the recent tactics cyber thieves are using and how you can spot them and avoid falling prey. 

The O-phish-al Officials
When we receive mail, e-mail or calls from agencies like the IRS, Social Security Administration or the U.S. government, we are naturally more inclined to pay attention and respond. Within days of the passage of the CARES Act, texts, e-mails and phone calls that appear to be from real businesses and government agencies began flooding in, offering to speed up the payments. Many of these calls, e-mails and text are purportedly from the IRS or other U.S. government agencies. Thieves often request banking or personal information in order to collect CARES Act funds quicker.

Some scams involve thieves posing as banks, credit unions and other financial institutions offering loans and other economic help. This includes debt forgiveness and student loan assistance. Other popular ruses involve unemployment benefits and job offers, again from what appears to be a legitimate government agency.

The Cure
This one capitalizes on one emotion in particular: fear. A disease that’s sweeping the world and bringing countries and their economies to their knees can induce outright terror. The offer of a cure, of a test, or some other treatment or detection can override one’s common sense when it comes to detecting fraud, especially if it appears to come from a well-known agency such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO).

No drug or treatment has been approved for COVID-19. But that doesn’t stop companies from touting one. The FTC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have sent more than 40 warnings to companies selling unapproved products they claim can cure or prevent COVID-19 and shut down a website that was promoting a nonexistent vaccine, according to the AARP. 

In addition, some scammers claim to be selling or offering in-demand supplies such as surgical masks, test kits and household cleaners, often in robocalls, texts or social media ads. The FTC has issued warnings to companies suspected of abetting coronavirus robocalls, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) set up a dedicated website with information on COVID-19 phone scams. You can access that site here.

Fake Checks
Those much anticipated stimulus checks began dropping into some 80 million accounts in early April, but many citizens who haven’t provided direct deposit information to the IRS are eagerly watching their mailboxes for a paper check. To make sure the check you receive is THE official stimulus payment you’ve been waiting for, the Secret Service and the U.S. Treasury have provided six "Quick Tips/Genuine Security Features" that a person receiving, accepting, or cashing the economic impact payment check should look for:
  • There is a new Treasury seal to the right of the Statue of Liberty. The new seal should read "Bureau of the Fiscal Service" and it replaces the old seal that read "Financial Management Service (FMS)".
  • When moisture is applied to the black ink on the seal next to the Statue of Liberty, the ink will "run" and turn red.
  • All Treasury checks are printed on watermarked paper. The watermark reads "U.S. TREASURY" and can be seen from both front and back when held up to a light source.
  • An invisible to the naked eye "protective ultraviolet overprinting" (UV) pattern is on the paper check. It consists of lines of "FMS" bracketed on the left by the FMS seal and on the right by the U.S. Seal (eaglet. As of 2013, a new ultraviolet pattern was introduced into the check that says 'FISCALSERVICE.' Either one of these UV patterns may be seen.
  • The back of the check is micro printed with the words "USAUSAUSA".
  • Printed on the lower right side of the Statue of Liberty will be the following information "Economic Impact Payment President Donald J. Trump".
Anyone who believes they may have a counterfeit economic impact payment check is urged to contact local law enforcement, a Secret Service field office, or the Treasury.

How To Avoid Scams
  • Look out for the term “stimulus” in official government communication. It’s a buzzword used by the media and general public, but is unlikely to be included in official government correspondence. Speaking of official correspondence…
  • The U.S. government loves the snail mail when it comes to official communications. You can certainly reach them by phone or e-mail but for an initial conversation, you’ll have to be the one to reach out. A government agency will never text, e-mail or call you without you asking them to do so.
  • Beware of any request for information or money. This is particularly true when the request is not in response to any kind of communication from yourself. 
  • Don’t be afraid to confirm any request or communication from a financial institution. A bank you have a relationship with my e-mail, call or text you if you’ve given permission for them to do so. But you’ll never be asked for passwords, whole Social Security numbers, banking information, or for money. 
  • Don’t trust your caller ID to legitimize calls. It’s easy to spoof a real phone number to gain your trust before you even pick up the phone. 
  • Do not click any links in a text message. If a friend sends you a text with a suspicious link that seems out of character, call them to make sure they weren't hacked.
  • Always check on a charity (for example, by calling or looking at its actual website) before donating. (Learn more about charity scams.)
For more information about scam calls and texts, visit the FCC Consumer Help Center and the FCC Scam Glossary. You can also file a complaint about such scams at fcc.gov/complaints.

Learn more about what Kirtland FCU is doing in response to the COVID-19 threat.

 

Fraud

Hey Siri, will they never stop inventing newer, trickier scams to steal our identities and information?
 
No, probably not. Because it works! We’ve written about check scams, ATM scams, grandparent scams, love scams, e-mail and text phishing, and more. And the more trust you have in the purported sender, the easier it is for a thief to victimize you. When you receive an e-mail from a company you’ve never heard of, you’re naturally skeptical. But, get a call or an e-mail from Apple on your iPhone alerting you that your Apple ID is compromised—that’s a different story.

Tim Cook, The CEO of Apple, announced early in 2019 that there were currently 1.4 billion active Apple devices. Each of those devices requires a unique Apple ID to access features such as the App Store, iTunes, and more. And even on non-Apple tech, an Apple ID may be required to use iTunes and other proprietary Apple apps and software. That’s a deep pool to fish in, and thieves are increasingly setting the bait by targeting the owners of the sleek Apple-emblazoned devices and apps. If you own one of these devices, you need to be aware of a popular phishing tactic in 2020—the Apple ID scam.

Apple has set the bar high when it comes to customer service and support, and the integrated nature of Apple products makes their owners feel as if they’re more than customers—they’re family, connected by common technology and language. So when a phone call comes through, “Apple, Inc.” on the caller ID screen, we pick up. And we listen to the voice telling us that our Apple ID has been compromised and to not use our device until we call this number. And we may even call back—many do! The “Apple Support” representative will ask the victim to confirm their Apple ID and password and may even request additional information or payment to release the ID. 

This scam really isn’t new, having been floating around for a few years in different forms. E-mail phishing (e-mails that are spoofed to appear as legitimate communication from a company) has been a popular tactic. But the phone calls, with a seemingly real phone number identification, are scary in their level of accuracy. The scammed calls appear to come from Apple , Inc., show the real support number and a real address. The screenshot below shows just how legitimate these calls can appear.


Source: Krebs On Security

So, fellow Apple owner, how can we keep ourselves safe? Here are some things to remember and look out for.

SUPPORT WON’T CONTACT YOU
The biggest sign that a call is fake? You didn’t request it. When was the last time a piece of tech wasn’t working right, you needed support, and THEY called YOU. It just doesn’t happen. If you have issues with your devices or logins, you have many options for reaching out to Apple yourself. You can absolutely log in to Apple Support and request a call, and that request will generate a case number. When the call comes, that case number will be provided at the very beginning of the call.

PASSWORDS ARE PRIVATE
No real support call will involve you turning over a password. Apple Support has no ability to set your passwords and has no reason for ever requesting that information in a phone call. If you’re on a call—especially if you didn’t initiate the call—and the person on the other end of that call requests a password, hang up immediately.
 
DON’T TRUST THE CALLER ID
It’s easy to spoof numbers to a high degree of accuracy. Pay attention to the call itself and the events leading up to it. If you didn’t request a call and had no other indication of a problem, the call is suspicious. Hang up and call Apple Support yourself. 

DON’T PAY TO PLAY
It’s a hallmark of a scam call or e-mail—the urgent request for money to resolve an issue. Any issue that Apple Support can help with will not require you to make a payment, transfer, purchase of gift cards, or any other monetary reimbursement over the phone. If a request doesn’t feel right, hang up and call back by dialing the official Apple Support number or utilizing chat services from official Apple websites.

Large, trusted companies aren’t immune from phishing attacks—quite the opposite! Be skeptical and if you’re in doubt, hang up the phone or delete the e-mail and reach out to the company yourself. 

 

Fraud

UPDATED, Originally posted on 1/31/2020

On January 30, 2020, a person misrepresenting himself as being affiliated with Kirtland Federal Credit Union visited a member who had recently refinanced his home with Kirtland FCU. This man went to the member’s home and attempted to sell the member mortgage insurance while purporting to have a business relationship with Kirtland FCU. 

If you’ve recently closed a loan with Kirtland FCU, here are a few things to keep in mind.
  • Liens against your home are public record. When you purchase or refinance your residence, that transaction is available as a matter of public record. Do not assume your address or situation is known only to you and your lender.
  • Kirtland FCU does NOT sell member information to third parties. Some lenders DO sell customer/member information to third parties, but this fact is required by law to be disclosed to you during the course of any loan or account opening. Kirtland FCU follows all local, state and federal regulations regarding the handling of your information. We do not sell your information to third parties.
  • Not sure of the person you’re talking to? If you were approached at your home by anyone claiming to be an employee of Kirtland FCU or affiliated with Kirtland FCU, that person is misrepresenting themselves. Whether a criminal attempting to perpetrate fraud or simply an unethical employee using dirty tactics to garner business, ask that person to leave. You can always call Kirtland FCU at 1-800-880-5328 to check the validity of any person who is claiming to be an employee of Kirtland FCU or with a company affiliated with the credit union.
It is possible for someone to obtain publicly available information and use that information to misrepresent himself/herself as being affiliated with the lender in order to gain business.

If you’re approached by anyone in a similar fashion, contact Kirtland FCU immediately. Do not sign any forms, turn over any money, or provide any other personal information to the individual - in case this more than just an over zealous employee.

Door-to-door scams are still out there. According the Federal Trade Commission, here are a few common scams from the to watch out for:

  • Home repair scams - Someone offers to do yard work or make repairs in or around your home. You want to save money and really need the work done so you give it a shot. He or she takes a cash payment from you upfront…and never returns.
  • Cable reconnect scams - Money’s been tight and your cable is off due to nonpayment. A flyer says you can get your cable reconnected for an unbelievably low price. You make an appointment, pay, and your cable may even reconnect — provided the scammers don’t skip off with your money first. But will your cable stay on? Probably not. And is this even legal? Absolutely not. Once the cable company catches on, you’re cable-less again, out of the money you paid, and you’re probably in trouble with the company and law enforcement to boot.
  • Utility cut-on scams - There’s a power outage. Someone claiming to be with your utility company offers to reconnect your service for, say, $50. You pay. You wait. Hours later you’re still in the dark and out of money. A scam artist has run off with your money.
Protect your money, property and personal safety by following a few tips:
  • Don’t let anyone come into your home unless you have a pre-scheduled appointment. You have the right to refuse to open your own door.
  • Don’t pay cash to anyone who comes to your home claiming to be with a utility company or other service provider.
  • Confirm any special offers with your service provider — using the number on your bill or their website. Also, be suspicious of a promotional flyer offering service from multiple providers. Competitors don’t typically advertise together.
  • If you’re struggling with your bill, most providers can make payment arrangements to restore your service legitimately.

If anyone promises a service, takes your money and doesn’t deliver, file a complaint with the FTC and your state consumer protection agency.

Stay safe out there.
 

 
Source: FTC.org

Security Fraud

Puerto Rico. California. Florida. Australia.

What do all these places have in common? They’ve all experienced a disaster or event that prompted an outpouring of donations and an influx of charity involvement in the recovery efforts. And there’s no question as to the willingness of people to give. In 2017, Hurricane Harvey became the second-costliest storm on record in the United States, causing an estimated $125 billion in damages. In the three months following the storm, at least $1.07 billion is estimated to have been donated to U.S. nonprofit organizations in response, according to a study by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. More than 30 percent of U.S. households made a disaster-related donation in 2017 through a variety of sources.


Image from U.S. Household Disaster Giving Report, Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. https://www.issuelab.org/resources/34757/34757.pdf

After a disaster, donations tend to explode. In fact, most donations are made in the first six weeks following a disaster and have all but tapered off six months later. The first few weeks after a disaster, especially one with high-profile news coverage, are prime season for fraudsters who capitalize on the disaster and peoples’ desire to make a difference by posing as a charity organization.

In August of 2019, as Hurricane Dorian approached the shores of Florida, the BBB Wise Giving Alliance and the Better Business Bureau offered advice on how to make the most of your donation in the face of a disaster and how to spot a fraudulent attempt to divert donations.



Hurricane Harvey relief workers hand out supplies. Photo courtesy of michelmond / Shutterstock.com

After a disaster, donations tend to explode. In fact, most donations are made in the first six weeks following a disaster and have all but tapered off six months later. The first few weeks after a disaster, especially one with high-profile news coverage, are prime season for fraudsters who capitalize on the disaster and peoples’ desire to make a difference by posing as a charity organization.

In August of 2019, as Hurricane Dorian approached the shores of Florida, the BBB Wise Giving Alliance and the Better Business Bureau offered advice on how to make the most of your donation in the face of a disaster and how to spot a fraudulent attempt to divert donations.

Give directly to reputable organizations
Well-established organizations are the most experienced in working with disaster relief and recovery. They often have strong local ties and will know how to work together with other agencies as well as governments.

Watch for look-alike charities
It’s not uncommon for organizations to pop up in an attempt to collect a portion of a massive volume of donations being made in the wake of a disaster. Many fraudulent organizations will create names that are similar to legitimate organizations. And even new, legitimate charities may be well-intentioned but not well-positioned to help immediately. Check with Give.org for a list of credible charities assisting with recovery efforts or with the IRS’ Tax-Exempt Organization Search to make sure you’re dealing with a legitimate organization.

Understand crowdfunding
The explosion of online crowdfunding—the collecting of money for a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people—has made it very easy for fraudsters to cash in after a disaster. If you’re going to donate via a crowdfund, it’s best to makes sure you know the owner personally. The person running the crowdfunding campaign isn’t necessarily the person who you want your money ending up with, and you’re trusting that they’ll follow through on their promises.
 
Beware direct requests for money
If you’re contacted by someone you don’t know on social media or via e-mail in a direct request for donation funds, you should hear alarm bells in your mind. Legitimate organizations that you aren’t already affiliated with will likely not reach out to you directly to request help. Be even more concerned if that person is requesting gift cards or P2P payments (Apple Pay, Paypal, etc.) Likewise, do not click on links in unsolicited e-mails requesting donations. DO NOT give out personal financial information to anyone who solicits a contribution.

Do not send cash
A cash donation is a bad idea. Leave a paper trail for tax and security purposes by using a check or credit card to make a donation. If something goes wrong, you have avenues you can follow with your card company and documentation of the amount and where it was supposed to go. Checks have to be cashed somewhere. When you hand over cash or gift cards, the trail ends—and if you’ve given your donation to a fraudster, you have no path for recourse. 

Report suspected fraud
If you receive an e-mail requesting donations and suspect it may be fraudulent, report it to the IRS.

We know the desire to help is nearly overwhelming in the days and months following a disaster. But by being aware of the dos and don’ts of donation, you’ll be able to avoid fraudsters and make sure your donation provides the maximum amount of relief in the right hands.

 

Security Fraud

Financial wellness—the ability to have a healthy financial life—hinges on budgeting, managing debts and making smart decisions for the long-term. Financial wellness allows you to handle medical bills, afford housing and transportation, and have access to the credit you need. Education and good habits go a long way toward being financially well!

But, in this technological age, there are many obstacles that can derail your financial wellness. A big one on that list? Identity theft.

In 2018, the Federal Trade Commission processed 1.4 million fraud reports totaling $1.48 billion in losses. The time and money a victim will spend trying to recover from identity theft is significant and can impact financial wellness. And the emotional toll that an identity theft can take could affect a victim’s job, relationships, and physical health. The growing prevalence of identity theft and fraud means that identity theft protection has to a be a part of the whole financial wellness package.
 

What YOU Can Do

  1. Monitor your credit report regularly - Catching discrepancies early can limit losses. Your credit report is free to you. Download yours FREE at AnnualCreditReport.com and check for accounts or activity you don’t recognize.
  2. Consider dark web monitoring - While dark-web monitoring doesn’t actually scan these sites for your information, it can help detect your information if it appears when stolen data is uploaded to sell. Learn more about the dark web now
  3. Practice good identity theft habits - Keeping your important information secret, setting strong, unique passwords, and staying aware of popular scams can help prevent you from falling victim to an identity thief. Learn more about how to keep your identity safe.

Extra Protection

Kirtland FCU partners with Identity Fraud, Inc. to offer a comprehensive suite of protection products that help minimize your risk of becoming a victim of identity theft. Services can include:
  • SSN Monitoring – to catch thieves using your social security number
  • Credit Monitoring – to identify unusual activity so you can take action
  • Credit Card Monitoring – scours chat rooms and online activity for your credit card information to identify potential fraud
  • DataSweep Monitoring – to identify your personal information online and alert you
  • Identity Insurance – should the worst happen, you’ll be covered
  • Lost Wallet Services - a 24/7 support team that helps you act quickly to limit your losses, maintain your good credit, and replace your lost or stolen cards
  • Keystroke Encryption Software - helps protect your identity by encrypting your keystrokes and hiding them from hackers, malware and key loggers intent on stealing your sensitive credentials while using the internet.
  • 24/7 Unlimited Resolution & Prevention Assistance - Staff ready to assist you with fraud resolution, no matter what type or how you experience identity theft.
Cover yourself with these protective services, and more, for less than $3 a month!

Explore and sign up for Identity Fraud, Inc. coverage!

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