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Mar 26

2014

by Michelle, Assistant Vice President, Operations

by Michelle, Assistant Vice President, Operations

A recent scam affecting consumers involves fraud artists gaining access to your home computer to steal private information, data and files.

 

Here’s how it works.

A fraudster calls you on the phone claiming to be a Microsoft technical support employee. They may offer to speed up your computer, troubleshoot any performance issues or help you upgrade your software. With your cooperation, they dial in to your computer, which gives them access to your files.

 

Once they are logged into your computer, they can:

Install malicious software or spyware to capture personal and financial information, including user names and passwords.

 

Control your computer remotely, even after they claim to have logged off and after your phone call has ended.

 

Instruct you to access fraudulent websites that collect personal and financial information.

 

Additionally, at the end of the call, these scammers may attempt to collect your credit card information to charge you for their time and services.

 

In response to these scams, Microsoft has stated, “Neither Microsoft nor our partners make unsolicited phone calls (also known as cold calls) to charge you for computer security or software fixes.”

 

Do not trust unsolicited callers claiming to provide computer services. If a caller claiming to represent Microsoft contacts you, do not purchase any software or services from them. Most importantly, do not give them control of your computer.

 

As always, we encourage you to trust your instincts and never provide personal information to strangers.

 

If you suspect that your account has been compromised, immediately call a member service representative at (888) 858-6878. After hours, for debit or credit card fraud, please call (800) 543-5073 to block your card.

 

We can cancel compromised cards, change your account number or add a password to your account for future transactions if it becomes necessary.

 

 

Feb 11

2014

The IRS has issued a warning to consumers about fraudulent charity scams.  Fraudulent scams capitalize on the goodwill of the public with the intent to steal money or identities.

 

The IRS warns that scams of this nature are most rampant following major disasters, like recent devastating tornados or typhoons.  Disasters are the most popular times for this type of fraud because of the surge of good will surrounding a catastrophic event, and suspicious circumstances are more likely to be overlooked because of the immediacy of need.

 

The scammers pose as a legitimate charity using several different methods.  They may claim to be an employee or volunteer of a legitimate charity.  They may use company names that sound similar to real charities.  They may use email that link respondents to fraudulent websites.  Or, they may use phone calls or emails to solicit donations requiring personal or financial information in attempt to commit identity theft.

 

You can protect yourself in several ways:

 

Verify that the charity is legitimate. 
The IRS and FEMA both offer online tools to search for qualified tax-deductible organizations.

Don’t share your personal financial information.
Never share your Social Security Number, credit card numbers, your credit union account number or your passwords with anyone.  Often these donation attempts are a way to access much more than your intended donation amount.

Don’t send cash.
Cash isn’t a traceable way to record donations for tax purposes, but it’s also not very secure.  Use a check or other payment method to properly document your transaction.

 

If you think you may be a victim of charity-related fraud, report the incident to the IRS using the Reporting Phishing link.

 

If you suspect that your account has been compromised, immediately call a member service representative at (888) 858-6878. After hours, for debit or credit card fraud, please call (800) 543-5073 to block your card.

 

We can cancel compromised cards, change your account number or add a password to your account for future transactions if it becomes necessary.

 

by Michelle, AVP, Operations

Nov 5

2013

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A skimming device is a tool illegally affixed to a legitimate ATM or other automated point-of-sale machine to assist criminals in committing fraud. The device picks up ATM or debit card information when your card is swiped. A miniature camera sometimes used with the device to record the PIN of users. By copying the data onto blank cards and using an acquired PIN, fraudsters can access your money.

 

ATM skimming is a sophisticated crime. The devices used to commit fraud are complex and difficult to detect. At the same time, ATMs are well equipped with security measures to detect unauthorized activity. Additionally, our branch staff has procedures in place to prevent our ATMs from being compromised and processes to ensure any tampering is immediately detected. We have had some members fall victim to these devices at gas stations, restaurants or other self-service point-of-sale machines. As always, we feel that awareness is the best way to prevent any type of fraud.

 

Here’s how to protect yourself from fraud associated with skimming devices:

 

Physical protection
The simplest and most effective way to protect your card and PIN is to cover the keypad from view when you enter your PIN. Developing this simple habit can prevent thieves from accessing your money, regardless of whether they’ve skimmed your card.

 

Be aware
Take caution if you notice inconsistencies in your ATM experience. Some fraud artists are now using cell phone cameras to film videos of PINs being entered while standing behind users at ATMs.

 

If you’ve used an ATM in the past and you remember it being a motorized ATM (one that takes and holds your card during your transaction) and now it’s a “dip” ATM (one that you simply dip in and pull your card out), take caution. A skimming device may be attached.

 

Similarly, if the card swipe doesn’t match the color or style of the ATM machine, it might be a skimmer. Compare the card device to others at nearby ATMs or gas pumps. Gas stations that ask for your zip code instead of your PIN may be a safer option.

 

Above all, trust your instincts. If you suspect foul play, or if you’re in doubt about the authenticity of a machine, use a different machine or payment method.

 

Transaction alerts
Transaction alerts keep you informed of account activity. When a transaction occurs on your account, you’ll receive a courtesy email. If the transaction wasn’t yours, contact us immediately. An immediate response to suspected fraud is the best way to protect your money. We can shut down your card to protect your funds and send you a new card or issue you a new card at a branch. These simple alerts can be set and managed under the “Manage Profile” tab in BranchLine online banking.

 

If you suspect that you could have been a victim of ATM skimming or any fraudulent activity, call us at (888) 858-6878 as soon as possible. We can offer additional layers of protection on your account.

by Michelle, AVP, Operations

Oct 22

2013

As part of our ongoing commitment to informing and protecting members, we post details about current scams and provide tips on how to protect your personal information and accounts.

 

Lottery and sweepstakes scams continue to affect consumers worldwide. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) listed this type of fraud as the fourth largest complaint category in 2012, with nearly 100,000 filed complaints.

 

Last month, the FTC and a federal court stopped a massive sweepstakes scam that amounts to an estimated $11 million in fraud.

 

Here’s how the scams work:

 

Intended victims receive letters in the mail telling them they’ve won large amounts of money. All they have to do to receive the money is mail in a small fee, typically $20-$50, right away. The letters appear very official, including stamps, seals, bar codes and financial routing numbers. Targeted victims are often older individuals who are very trusting.

 

To protect yourself from these types of scams, remember that legitimate sweepstakes do not require you to pay any money to receive a prize. You should never disclose your personal information, including checking account numbers, debit card numbers or credit card numbers to unknown people over the phone, online or by mail.

 

If you suspect you have been a victim of fraud, or that your account has been compromised, immediately call a member service representative at (888) 858-6878. The sooner we know about fraud attempts, the sooner we can act to protect you. We can cancel compromised cards, change your account number, or add a password to your account for future transactions.

Jul 16

2013

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As part of our commitment to protecting members and their finances, we post current scams and provide tips on how to protect your personal information and accounts. Three new scams are making headlines and have even affected some Pacific Service CU members.

 

Online Photo Sharing Scam
The FBI has put out an alert about cyber criminals using online photo sharing programs to gain access and harm victims’ computers. The scammer advertises a product online. To see photos of the for sale item, the buyer must provide an email address. The scammer sends either an attachment or a link to a gallery of photos, both of which infect the recipient’s computer with malicious software.

 

There are several ways you can protect yourself from a scam of this nature. First, keep your computer software, anti-virus software, firewalls and operating system up to date and set your anti-virus software to scan files before downloading them.

 

Additionally, when shopping online, stick to reputable retailers. If an item price seems much lower than it should be, the retailer may be fraudulent. Use extra caution when contacted directly by the seller after losing an online auction claiming that the original buyer fell through.

 

Dating Scam
Online dating continues to rise in popularity. Although this can be a great way to meet someone, unfortunately, it can also attract fraudsters. Here’s how the scam usually works. The fraudster reaches out to the victim online. Over the course of weeks or even months, the communication continues and the two form a connection. Victims may even receive flowers or gifts. Ultimately, however, the fraudster will ask for money or ask the victim to perform a favor by cashing a check for them. The money borrowing continues until the victim realizes they have been scammed.

 

The FBI reports several common threads in scams of this nature. The scammer professes instant feelings of love, sends photos that look too professional, claims to be traveling or working abroad, or asks to leave the dating website to communicate using personal email. Stories often include a personal tragedy, financial hardship or the inability to cash checks where they’re working or traveling.

 

To protect yourself, stick to nationally-known, reputable dating sites. Do not cash checks for someone else, wire money, provide your account number, or setup automatic transfers to strangers. Above all, trust your instincts. If a situation seems suspicious, it probably is.

 

This type of crime is often underreported because the victims are embarrassed. If you think you’ve been a victim of a dating scam, the FBI recommends that you file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

 

Employment Scam
Online employment scams are a common type of fraud. Here’s how the scam usually works. A job seeker applies online and after an email exchange, is hired. The employer may ask the prospective employee to provide personal information to set up employee benefits. Or, in order to receive paychecks via online, to set up an automatic transfer to their account, the employer then asks to verify automatic transfers, which often give the fraudster access to the employee’s account.

 

Employment scams, although often intricate and authentic in their appearance, are simply an attempt to gain personal information and commit identity theft. To protect yourself, keep your personal information private. Never provide account numbers, account access, Social Security numbers or any personal information to strangers.

 

If you suspect you have been a victim of fraud, or that your account has been compromised, immediately call a member service representative at (888) 858-6878. The sooner we know about fraud attempts, the sooner we can act to protect you. We can cancel compromised cards, change your account number, or add a password to your account for future transactions if it should become necessary.

 

You may also be interested in:
Government Lawsuit Scam Alert
Fraud Alert: Tax Scams
Utility Bill Scam Alert

 

by Michelle, AVP, Operations

 
   
 
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