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All Posts > Fraud

Security Fraud

Six months in, the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States has devastated the economy with business closures resulting in lost jobs for a record number of people. In fact, as of the end of July, a staggering 28.2 million people claimed unemployment benefits. Last year, 1.6 million people claimed unemployment in the same time period.
 
For those who have been affected, unemployment benefits are lifeline. Indeed, through the federal CARES Act as well as various state efforts, unemployment benefits have received a boost in recent months. But the exponential increase in unemployment claims, coupled with several state and federal actions design to make applying for unemployment easier, has resulted in an explosion of fraudulent unemployment claims.
 
How this scam works
The Unemployment Usurper uses stolen personally identifying information—a Social Security number, birth date, name, address, etc.—to fraudulently apply for and receive unemployment benefits in the name of the victim. The incidence of this scam has increased so quickly that the FBI and the Federal Trade Commission have both recently issued warnings to be on alert for this scam.
 
The imposter may obtain personal information through a variety of methods—data breaches, phishing e-mails and phone calls, public websites, social media accounts, and physical theft of data. Often, the criminal will file the claim under the false identity and set up payments to drop into an account they themselves control.
 
Victims only learn about the fraud when applying to receive their unemployment benefits, when they receive a notice from their state unemployment benefits office or their employer if currently employed. Red flags that you’ve been targeted in this scam include:
 
  • Communication regarding unemployment insurance forms when you have not applied for benefits
  • Unauthorized transactions on your bank or credit card statements related to unemployment benefits
  • Fees involved with filing or qualifying for insurance
  • Unsolicited inquiries related to unemployment benefits
  • Fictitious website and social media pages mimicking those of government agencies.
 
If you are alerted to this activity and you haven’t applied for benefits, it’s likely your information has been stolen and employed in this scam. The benefits may be long gone, but you will need to move quickly to protect your finances and credit from further impacts.
 
  1. Report the fraud to your employer
  2. Report the fraud to your state unemployment benefits agency (click here for New Mexico’s Department of Workforce Solutions).
  3. Report the fraud to the FTC.
 
How to avoid this scam
They key to avoiding becoming a victim of this scam is to stay in control of your personal information as much as possible. Familiarize yourself with the various methods scammers use to obtain your data so you can be on the lookout.
 
  • Be wary of calls, messages, e-mails, letters, and website that ask you to provide your personal information or financial data—especially birth dates and Social Security numbers. Watch for links in e-mails as well. Just because a website looks legitimate doesn’t mean it is. When in doubt, start a new session in your browser and type the website name in directly
  •  Monitor your accounts. Enroll in Online Banking to keep a 24/7 eye on your accounts and set up alerts to notify you of unusual withdrawals and activity.
  • Go paperless. Mailbox theft is common. Keep your statements and other information out of the hands of criminals by opting into electronic statements wherever possible.
  • Check your credit report. You can do this for free once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com.
  • Report unusual activity to your financial institutions, credit card providers, and the IRS. You should also consider notifying the FBI of fraudulent or suspicious activities through the Internet Crime Complaint Center.
 

Security Fraud

We’ve all been at home for decades months now. It’s become apparent to many of us that something is just missing at home. What an amazing time to get a pet! Everyone is at home, we can train and look after our new pet! It’s a great distraction and a perfect time to grow our family.
 
It makes sense that with COVID-19 comes skyrocketing incidents of this scam—a threefold increase from this time last year. It’s the Puppy Scam.
 
The BBB received 1,681 reports of pet scams in the past few months, up from 583 for the same period last year. Overall, pet scams comprise 25% of online scams reported to BBB’s Scam Tracker. During the same period last year, it was 18%. The typical dollar amount lost to pet scams also rose from $655 last year to $700 this year, one of the highest for all categories. The percentage of people who reported losing money inched up from 68% last year to 70% this year.
 
It's a costly scam, and one that pulls at the heartstrings.
 

How it works

According to the American Kennel Club, puppy scammers post fake litters online or pretend to be someone they’re not (usually an existing breeder) to take advantage of puppy sales (sans the puppies.) This means that if you aren’t careful, you could find the perfect puppy, send the ‘breeder’ your money, and never receive a puppy or any follow-up communication in return.
While many times these fake listings appear on websites like Craigslist, some scammers find ways to position themselves as reputable breeders by stealing personal info from them.
 
BBB did an earlier study that found that these types of frauds depend on bogus, often sophisticated advertisements to hook unsuspecting consumers. Experts believed, at that time, that at least 80% of the sponsored advertising links that appear in an internet search for pets may be fraudulent.
 
Victims were often told that they needed to send money for special climate-controlled crates, insurance and a (non-existent) COVID-19 vaccine. There also were several instances where the consumers wanted to see or pick-up the animal but were told that wasn't possible due to COVID-19 restrictions.
 
A classic report comes from the BBB: one woman reported losing more than $1,100 to two different puppy scammers in April 2020. She said the first seller agreed to sell her a pug puppy for $500, including shipping, and had her pay with a prepaid gift card he instructed her to buy at Walmart. The woman told BBB the seller subsequently notified her that COVID-19 had delayed shipment of the puppy and would not issue her a refund; she tracked the gift card and found that it had already been spent at a Target store in Texas.
 
The woman said she subsequently made contact with another seller who agreed to sell her a pug puppy for $620, including shipping. She said after she paid half the fee, a third-party shipper contacted her and demanded $750 for a climate-controlled crate; when he offered to split that fee with her, she sent him $300. The seller and shipper subsequently both turned out to be fraudulent, and the woman did not receive refunds or either puppy.
 
“This seller absolutely played on my emotions and vulnerability,” the woman told BBB. “I'm a highly educated person, but I've never felt so stupid in my entire life.”
 

How to stay safe

If you’re considering purchasing a pet, the following are best practices to keep yourself safe from a puppy scammer.
 
See the pet in person before purchasing
Reluctance to have you meet the animal should be a red flag. And when it comes to photos, scammers will often use stock images or photos off the internet when advertising for their scheme. They’ll also repeat their posts in several different places, so do a quick Google search using the text in the listing. If you’re finding the same text on a different site with different photos, that’s a warning sign.
 
Beware sketchy payment methods
If a seller is asking for money wires or gift cards, you should be on the lookout for a scam. Paying by credit card is your best option because it gives you recourse in case a deal doesn’t work out. If you pay with a gift card, wire money, or use a personal transfer service like Venmo, there is no way to retrieve your payment.
 
Research the price
These scams often advertise full-breed animals at an unbelievably low rate. Research the prices of the breed you’re considering to see what the typical price is. If the listing says the animal is registered, check out that registration before turning over any money
 
Beware extras
Scammers often try to charge money for transportation or other extra perks along the way. Be on the lookout for these.
 
Consider adopting rather than purchasing
Animal shelters nationwide are full of wonderful dogs and cats waiting for forever homes. Whether you adopt from a city shelter or one of the many rescue organizations, you have many options for getting a four-legged friend that won’t put your money in jeopardy. Fees are nominal and usually cover vaccinations, microchipping, and other costs associated with adopting out an animal.
 
If you think you have been scammed or have found a suspicious website, report it to BBB Scam Tracker and the Federal Trade Commission.
 
Get started on your puppy search safely!
 
Animal Humane New Mexico
ASPCA
Watermelon Mountain Ranch
Rio Rancho Animal Resource Center
Albuquerque Animal Welfare
 

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

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