GECU makes every effort to keep your personal and financial information safe from online threats. Here are some important tips to help protect your accounts and personal information.
- How Scams Work
- Romance Scams
- Lottery Scams
- Work Scams
- Classified Ad Scams
- Social Media Scams
- What is Phishing?
- How to Protect Your Information
- What to Do if Your Identity Has Been Stolen
How Scams Work
If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers will often try to
use pressure and the allure of making some quick, easy money to gain your
trust. Here are some of the signs of a scam:
- You are asked to send money back to the person who initiated the deal
- Their offer is only good for a very short time
- They ask you not to tell anyone the reason why you are withdrawing money
- They won’t let you wait for their check to clear or to talk their offer over with someone you trust
Your greatest defenses against scammers are time and the word “no.” Discuss
any offer you receive with a trusted friend or family member. GECU’s professional staff is very experienced at spotting scams and you can always contact us if you are unsure about an offer. When it comes to your money and
your identity, playing it safe is the best policy.
Interacting online with people from around the world has led to amazing new developments in art, entertainment and science. Unfortunately,
there can be a dark side to making friends on the internet. Learning how to spot and avoid a romance scam can help you enjoy the benefits of the web while protecting your heart and your money.
In a romance scam, scammers will engage in an online relationship with an unsuspecting partner. Once they feel 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.
The most important thing to remember about lotteries is that if you don’t play, you
can’t win. Scammers know that everyone would like to get rich with their lucky numbers. They’ll tell you that you’ve hit the jackpot and that all you have to do to claim your millions is send them a little money to pay a tax or 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. Even foreign lotteries won’t charge you upfront to receive your prize money. Another sign of a scam is being asked not to tell anyone why you are withdrawing and sending money. If you think you’ve been contacted by a lottery scammer, contact GECU immediately.
The internet is a great resource for finding a full- or part-time job. If a job listing
offers to pay you upfront to purchase the equipment you’ll need to work, it’s probably a scam.
Work scams usually begin with an offer to work as a mystery shopper, product tester or remote assistant. The scammer will send you a check or wire transfer to buy a laptop or make work-related purchases and all you have to do is send them any money that is leftover. By the time that you sent the scammer any money, it is too late. The check or wire transfer they sent will be rejected for insufficient funds and the “leftover” money will come out of your personal funds. If you get an offer like this, decline and cut off any contact with the person who offered you the job. Contact our experienced staff if you think that you have been sent funds or contacted by a scammer. We can help you spot a scam and advise you on how you can protect your money.
Classified Ad Scams
The internet has made buying and selling personal items easier than ever before.
Most of your online transactions will be safe, smooth and honest. However, it is important to be aware of a scam involving online sales. 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. 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. Not only did you give away an item you were hoping to sell, you were scammed out of your own money on top of it.
If you get an offer like this, you can always decline or stop the sale. Contact GECU immediately to make sure that you don’t give away more than you bargained for.
Social Media Scams
Social media helps us stay in contact with friends and family from all over the world. It also comes with a few things to be cautious of.
Scammers will often try to initiate romantic relationships over social media. They will sometimes go so far as creating fake profiles where they claim that they are in the military and stationed overseas, a relief worker, or any other job that takes people abroad. Some scammers can even maintain one of these relationships for years. One sign that indicates that you’re dealing with scammers is them claiming to need money for a sudden emergency before they can meet you in person. They will ask you to provide your account information or transfer money to them. Other signs to watch out for include poorly worded messages that are full of flowery language and accounts with a small number of friends and very few posts.
Some scammers will offer to help you make quick money with a simple
exchange of information. They’ll ask for information like your PIN and login credentials in order to deposit a fake check into your account. You’ll be asked to report to your institution that your account has been breached and you’ll
need a reimbursement. The scammer will offer to split the reimbursement with you. Not only does this give a scammer everything they need to take all of your money and steal your identity, but you can also be charged with a crime for participating in this scheme.
Here are some general tips for using social media safely:
- Use caution when tagging yourself at a location — it can let the wrong people know that you’re not home.
- Avoid someone that promises you quick and easy money — they’re usually a scammer.
- Don’t provide too much information on your profile. Information like your hometown, the high school you graduated from, your phone number and address can all be used to steal your identity or gain your confidence.
- Be careful with people that you don’t know who offer business, platonic or romantic conversations.
What Is Phishing?
Phishing is a tactic used by scammers to trick people into providing the
password and username for their online accounts. This is accomplished by
sending links and attachments in emails and texts that look just like a message from a legitimate website. One way you can tell that it’s a scam is to read the message carefully and look for misspelled words and incorrect grammar. You can also tell if it’s a scam if the link it directs you to is not the actual website the email purports to be from.
Phishing relies on the sense of urgency by requiring your immediate action and a story that sounds just real enough to get you to lower your guard. A good rule of thumb is to never click on a link or open an attachment you haven’t verified. Contact the organization or company that the message is supposed to be from at their publicly listed phone number or email address and make sure that it’s a genuine request before opening or clicking on anything.
GECU will never initiate a conversation by asking for your information. If you receive a suspicious message purporting to be from GECU, contact us immediately before opening an attachment or handing over your personal information.
How To Protect Your Information
Use these tips to protect your personal information. Whether you’re just
beginning your financial life or you already have many precautions in place, it’s
always a good idea to review these simple steps and make sure that all your bases are covered.
- GECU will never initiate a conversation with you asking for your personal information. Don’t respond to any unsolicited request for your personal information. If you receive a request for your personal information from an organization or company that you do business with, verify the request at their publicly listed customer service number before you give them your information.
- Review your account and credit card statements every month. Check them
against your records, such as receipts, and report any suspicious activity as soon as you notice it.
- Keep your financial records like statements, tax returns and receipts in a secure place. Shred any documents that you no longer need to prevent thieves from retrieving them from your garbage.
- Keep an eye on your mailbox. Retrieve your mail promptly and for more safety, hand your outgoing mail directly to the carrier or deposit it in a USPS receptacle. For added safety and security, use GECU’s free Bill Pay through mobile and online banking to make convenient, quick utility payments.
- Make sure that your computer and other internet devices have their anti-virus and security software up-to-date.
What To Do If Your Identity Has Been Stolen
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 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.
To file a complaint ...
- Visit ftc.gov/idtheft
- Call 1-877-438-4338
- Mail at Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20580.
Remember to notify GECU if you suspect that you’re an identity theft victim by calling 915-778-9221, 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 you did not open. Report suspicious activity as soon as you notice it.
THIS NOTICE IS REQUIRED BY LAW.
You have the right to a free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com or 1-877-322-8228, the ONLY authorized source under Federal law.