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.
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.
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
Sactown Credit Union 10-Mile Run benefitting Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals
At Pacific Service Credit Union, we pride ourselves on being an active part of our community. We’re already hard at work in 2013 contributing in the communities that we serve. Here’s a little more about our funding in the first three months of the year.
Kids Day 2013 Sponsorship
Once again, we are a proud sponsor of Kids Day 2013 benefitting The Children’s Hospital of Central California, which provides medical treatment to over 100,000 children.
YMCA of San Francisco
We are supporting the Presidio Community YMCA’s afterschool learning program at Sutro Elementary School. The program provides free, high quality afterschool services to youth in San Francisco’s Inner Richmond neighborhood.
Diabetic Youth Foundation
Our donations support the DYF with their mission is to improve the quality of life for children, teens and families affected by diabetes by providing education and recreation to foster personal growth, knowledge and independence.
San Francisco Deputy Sheriffs’ Foundation (SFDSF)
This year’s funding will provide back-to-school supplies for 300 low-income, at-risk children. The event gives private access to a local Target store for the children and deputy sheriff officers to shop. Merchandise is specially priced to maximize what each child can purchase with their allocation.
Credit Unions for Kids is a nonprofit collaboration of credit unions and business partners from across the country benefitting Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Funding supports treatment of children, regardless of their ability to pay.
Children’s Miracle Day Fundraiser
We were one of many credit unions supporting the Credit Union SacTown Ten-Mile Race benefitting Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, including hospitals in Oakland and Fresno.
Fresno Police and Neighborhood Watch program
Our funding supports community block parties and education for children. Children participate in crime prevention and games that reinforce positive living, improve relations with law enforcement officers and encourage community spirit.
Fresno Police Activities League (PAL) programs
Our involvement will support programs for low-income, at-risk residents of the community, including bicycle repair, bicycle giveaways and a mentoring pen pal program.
American Red Cross Save-a-Life Days (Formerly CPR Saturdays)
For the 11th year, our funding will sponsor a series of regional training events that deliver lifesaving skills to vulnerable populations in underserved communities at no cost.
Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano – Admiral’s Garden event sponsorship
Proceeds from the event help the Food Bank supply food to needy families during the summer months when donations are historically low. We have supported this event since 2004.
If you are involved in a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that you feel may fit our mission, we would be happy to consider them for a charitable contribution. Simply email me and include your organization’s name, email address and phone number.
by Kristin P., Business Development
Currently, retailers pay credit card companies a percentage of their transactions to accept and process credit card payments. A recent court settlement between the credit card industry and retailers now allows retailers the option to pass payment processing costs to consumers who pay with a credit card. This ruling went into effect January 27, 2013.
Not all states are affected. Due to state laws, merchants are not allowed to impose a credit card surcharge in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma or Texas.
Here are more surcharge details:
The fee may be imposed on credit card transactions only. Debit transactions are not involved in the agreement.
The fee cannot be more than the merchant actually pays to accept credit cards. That amount ranges between 1.5% and 4% of the transaction amount.
The fee must be clearly disclosed at the store entrance and where the payment is being accepted. When using an online retailer, the surcharge must be posted on the website’s homepage.
The notice must include: the amount of the fee; that the fee is being charged by the merchant; and, that the fee does not exceed the merchant’s cost to accept credit cards.
The fee amount must appear on your receipt and may be referred to as either a surcharge or checkout fee.
For more information, please call a member service representative at (888) 858-6878.
by Jenna, Vice President, Operations
In an effort to cut costs and increase security, Federal mandate requires that all government benefit paper checks be eliminated by March 1, 2013. These payments must switch to direct deposit to a financial institution or to a Treasury Department-issued debit card.
Are you affected?
Impacted federal benefits include Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Veterans Affairs benefits, Railroad Retirement Board benefits, Office of Personnel Management benefits and Department of Labor (Black Lung) benefits.
If you are already receiving one of these federal benefits via direct deposit, no action is required.
If, however, you are receiving these federal benefit payments by paper check, you will need to sign up for electronic payments. Using our ABA Routing Number, 121181743, you can switch from paper checks to direct deposit online at GoDirect.org or call the U.S. Treasury Electronic Payment Solution Center’s helpline at (888) 333-1795.
Benefits of electronic payments
Electronic payments are a great way to manage your money. Here are a few ways receiving payments electronically will benefit you:
Your money is electronically transmitted directly from the government to the credit union greatly reducing the risk of theft or fraud.
You don’t have to wait for the mail. Paper checks can be late, lost or stolen. With electronic payments, your money will be available on your payment day each month. Plus, you don’t need to make a special trip to cash or deposit a check.
There are no paper stubs to store, file or shred.
If you don’t sign up for direct deposit by March 1, 2013, the government will automatically convert you into their pre-paid debit card program.
by Jenna, Vice President, Sales & Service
At Pacific Service Credit Union, we believe our community involvement program is a vital part of being in the communities we serve. Here’s more about our giving program in the second half of 2012.
The Salvation Army, Alameda and San Francisco Counties
Funds provided to the Salvation Army will be used to provide 16,800 meals through the Holiday Food Baskets program and toys for needy families during the holiday season. Food baskets provide a family of four with enough food for one week. Toys are included with each food basket, and in many cases these toys will be the only holiday gifts received by the children in that family.
The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano County, Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano Counties
Our donation will provide groceries for 12,000 meals during the holiday season.
Bay Area Rescue Mission, Contra Costa County
Need at the Bay Area Rescue Mission (BARM) has provided food and shelter for the homeless and impoverished of the Bay Area. The continued impact of the economic crisis has increased the number of individuals in need of support from BARM. Funding will provide 9,700 meals during the holiday season.
Loaves and Fishes, Contra Costa County
L&F has served the hungry of Contra Costa County operates five dining rooms providing hot meals on weekdays. Dining rooms are in at-risk neighborhoods and meals help to fill the need for food during the 9 to 12 months it takes for individuals and families to qualify for Federal/State assistance programs. Our funding will provide 6,600 hot meals during the holiday season.
The Poverello House, Fresno County
Poverello House is a private, non-profit, non-denominational organization serving the hungry and homeless of Fresno. Funding will provide groceries to prepare 3,000 meals during the holiday season.
Open Heart Kitchen, Alameda County
Open Heart Kitchen provides daily meals to feed low-income families, children, individuals and senior citizens in the Tri-Valley area (Livermore, Dublin and Pleasanton) free of charge. Funding will provide 3,000 meals.
Bay Area Crisis Nursery, Alameda and Contra Costa Counties
Bay Area Crisis Nursery (BACN) was founded 30 years ago and has a mission to prevent abuse and neglect of children by providing support to families who are in crisis. Funding will be used to purchase Christmas Wish List items for children in the care of BACN – including games, dolls, books, DVDs, craft kits, sports equipment, clothing and food.
Huckleberry Youth Program, Marin and San Francisco Counties
The Huckleberry Youth Programs (HYP) serves at-risk, runaway and homeless youth in the Bay Area. Funding will provide 430 meals and snacks.
Huckleberry Youth Programs, Marin and San Francisco Counties
The Huckleberry Youth Program (HYP) established the Huckleberry Wellness, a four-year after school program including training in health education, exposure to health professions, job-readiness training, work experience in health care settings, academic support and tutoring, peer group support, case management and assistance with college applications. Funding will be used to provide stipend awards to participants who complete the Wellness Academy and their internships.
George Mark Children’s House, Alameda County
George Mark Children’s House (GMCH) serves children with terminal illnesses, provides transitional end of life care and short-term residential respite care, regardless of a families’ ability to pay. Our donation purchased vinyl bed rail cushions, four radio big flyer tricycles and a wireless public address system.
Fresno Police Activities League (PAL) programs, Fresno County
The Fresno PAL program supports low-income, at-risk members of the community. PSCU has supported various PAL programs since 2003. This sponsorship provided bicycles for low-income, at-risk children, a mentoring pen pal program for third grade students and movie night for low-income senior citizens.
Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano Counties – Holiday Food Drive sponsorship, Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano counties
Pacific Service CU has supported the holiday food drive since 2004 to provide food and assistance to needy families and individuals during the holiday season.
The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano Counties, Contra Costa and Solano counties
Due to the high number of individuals and families seeking assistance coupled with lower donations, The Food Bank’s capacity to provide food is exceeded by the need for assistance. PSCUs donation will afford The Food Bank to purchase additional food for distribution during the summer months. PSCU has supported The Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano since 2004.
Our employees, management and Board of Directors continue to lead the way in supporting organizations that provide food and basic necessities for those in need. We are proud of our efforts this year and will continue our community involvement in 2013.