Common Types of Scams & How to Report Fraud

Prevent fraud before it happens by knowing exactly how to spot popular scams! If an offer looks too good to be true, it’s probably a scam. Follow these simple steps to stay safe from fraud.

If your information has been compromised, call GECU immediately toll-free at 1.800.772.4328. If your debit or credit card has been compromised, please call 1.800.810.2252 at any time.

Smishing scams

As one of the most popular scams, smishing scams involve a member receiving a text message from a spoofed or altered phone number. The scammer pretends to be from a legitimate source, such as your financial institution. Do not reply to text messages from phone numbers that you do not recognize. Fraudsters may use your text response to gain access to your phone number, and then, call you to gain access to your account. Be alert when smishing scams send you text messages asking for account information, person-to-person payments that you have not initiated, or one-time passcodes to your account.

Unemployment benefits scam

Be cautious of emails or phone calls from anyone claiming to be a representative of state unemployment insurance programs. Unemployment benefits scams target first responders, government employees and school employees.

Economic impact payment text scam

Be alert for smishing scams posing as state tax agencies or the IRS — you may get text messages stating that you received a direct deposit from the COVID-19 Treasury Fund and further action is required. The message may contain links directing you to a website that asks for your bank account information. State tax agencies and the IRS will never send text messages asking for bank account information.

Social media scams

If someone offers you quick, easy money on social media, don’t fall for it. If someone asks you to provide your online banking username and password, don’t give them any information. It’s always safe to check the legitimacy of these requests with your financial institution. When it comes to social media scams, be careful with people that you don’t know who offer business, platonic or romantic conversations.

Lottery scams

The most important thing to remember about lottery games is if you don’t play, you can’t win. Lottery scams may tell you that you’ve hit the jackpot and all you have to do to claim your millions is send them a little money to pay a tax in order to release the money. This is a scam.

One sign to look out for is that the lottery you are supposed to have won is in a foreign country where you couldn’t have purchased a ticket. Another sign of a lottery scam is being asked not to tell anyone why you are withdrawing and sending money. 

Employment scams

Scammers may pose as companies or independent contractors and may offer you a job that is not legitimate. If a job offer seems too good to be true, it probably is an employment scam. Be on the lookout for when someone asks you for money upfront; they have an email address that is generic; when someone is overly eager to hire you; their emails or messages don’t have logos or have a lot of typos; and you can’t find much information about the company or its employees online. 

Classified ad scams

Scammers will offer to buy an item that you are selling and send you a check or wire transfer for more than the asking price. They’ll ask you to return the overage and ship the item. They may also ask to return the overage in a gift card. Unfortunately, you usually don’t find out that their check or wire transfer didn’t clear the bank until you’ve sent them their overage and the item you were selling.

Romance scams & catfishing scams

Scammers may engage in online relationships with unsuspecting partners. Once they feel that their target has developed romantic feelings, they will begin manipulating those feelings for their benefit. Scammers have been known to maintain relationships for years before beginning to exploit the feelings of their victim for financial gain.

Money mule scams

If someone sends you money and asks you to send it to someone else, you could be a part of a money mule scam. Criminals will often target students, those looking for employment or elders. Acting as a money mule is illegal, regardless of whether or not someone is aware of the fraud or crime they are committing. Money mules can be fined, prosecuted and incarcerated.

Mail theft scams

Mail theft is a felony that occurs when someone steals your mail. Your mail can be valuable to identity thieves. Do not place outgoing mail in your mailbox for the postman to pick up. Deposit outgoing mail into USPS blue collection boxes or inside your local post office. This will help avoid your data being used illegally.

What is phishing?

Phishing is a tactic used by scammers to trick people into providing the password and username for their online accounts. Phishing scams involve sending links and attachments in emails and texts that look like a message from a legitimate website. Look for misspelled words and incorrect grammar. Never click on a link or open an attachment that you haven’t verified.

Helpful tips on how to report fraud

Report fraud by contacting your financial institution immediately if you have given out your personal information or one-time passcode. The sooner your financial institution is contacted, the sooner they can help.

How to report identity theft

If you’re a victim of identity theft, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, recommends that you take the following steps.
  • Place a fraud alert on your credit reports and review them carefully. To place a fraud alert on your credit report, call one of the three consumer reporting companies listed below. The company that you call will contact the other two companies.
  • Close the accounts that you know, or believe, have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
  • Call and speak with someone in the security or fraud department of each company.
  • Follow up in writing and include copies (not originals) of supporting documentation.
  • File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place.
  • Make sure that you ask for a copy of the police report. It can help you deal with creditors who need proof of the crime.
  • File a complaint with the FTC. Sharing your identity theft complaint will provide important information that can help law enforcement officials across the country track down identity thieves and stop them.
  • Notify GECU if you suspect that you’re an identity theft victim by calling toll-free at 1.800.772.4328.
  • Check your credit report at least once a year and keep an eye out for suspicious activity like accounts that you did not open. Report suspicious activity as soon as you notice it.


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