Grandparents often have a hard time saying no to their grandchildren, which is something scam artists know all too well.
Scammers who gain access to consumers' personal information – by mining social media or purchasing data from cyber thieves – are creating storylines to prey on the fears of grandparents. The scammers then call and impersonate a grandchild in a crisis situation, asking for immediate financial assistance. The callers may “spoof” the caller ID that appears on the recipient's phone to make an incoming call look like it's coming from a trusted source.
In a recent report from the FBI in Buffalo, N.Y., a caller contacted an elderly person in western New York state and claimed to be a grandchild who had just been in a serious car accident and arrested for drunk driving. The imposter pressed the grandparent for money to post bond, then passed the phone to someone else who claimed to be the caller's attorney.
That phony attorney told the grandparent to come up with approximately $15,000 in cash and to put it in an envelope to be picked up at their house by a courier at a designated time. When the courier arrived, the unsuspecting grandparent handed over the cash. The FBI reports that these scams may use ride-share companies to retrieve the cash from victims.
The best advice for avoiding this type of scam, or any suspicious phone call, is to hang up immediately. If you have caller ID and you don't recognize an incoming phone number, just let it go to voicemail.
If you do wind up in a conversation, use caution if you are being pressured for information or to send money quickly. Scammers often try to bully victims into transferring money through a mobile payment app, by wiring money, or by purchasing gift cards or money orders. If you receive a call like this, report it immediately to local law enforcement.
More information can be found on the FCC website - click here.
Identity (ID) theft is a crime where a thief steals your personal information, such as your full name or social security number, to commit fraud. The identity thief can use your information to fraudulently apply for credit, file taxes, or get medical services. These acts can damage your credit status, and cost you time and money to restore your good name. You may not know that you are the victim of ID theft until you experience a financial consequence (mystery bills, credit collections, denied loans) down the road from actions that the thief has taken with your stolen identity.
Take steps to protect yourself from identity theft:
- Secure your social security number (SSN). Don’t carry your social security card in your wallet or write your number on your checks. Only give out your SSN when absolutely necessary.
- Don’t respond to unsolicited requests for personal information (your name, birthdate, social security number, or bank account number) by phone, mail, or online.
- Contact the three credit reporting agencies to request a freeze of your credit reports.
- Collect mail promptly. Place a hold on your mail when you are away from home for several days.
- Pay attention to your billing cycles. If bills or financial statements are late, contact the sender.
- Enable the security features on mobile devices, especially if you have contacts, banking websites and applications saved.
- Update sharing and firewall settings when you're on a public wi-fi network. Consider using a virtual private network, which can give you the privacy of secured private network.
- Review your credit card and bank account statements. Promptly compare receipts with account statements. Watch for unauthorized transactions.
- Shred receipts, credit offers, account statements, and expired credit cards, to prevent “dumpster divers” from getting your personal information.
- Store personal information in a safe place at home and at work.
- Install firewalls and virus-detection software on your home computer.
- Create complex passwords that identity thieves cannot guess easily. Change your passwords if a company that you do business with has a breach of its databases
- Review your credit report once a year to be certain that it doesn't include accounts that you have not opened. You can order it for free from Annualcreditreport.com.
How to Report Identity Theft:
As always, Think Before You Click!
What is skimming?
Skimming is the act of stealing PIN and debit card information through the use of skimming devices and cameras.
What is a skimming device?
A skimming device is a card reader that is placed over the real card reader slot of the machine which typically looks identical to the real reader. When a card is slid or swiped through the skimming device, all of the card information from the magnetic strip is saved. There is also a hidden camera(s) pointed directly at the keypad of the machine to record a patron typing in his/her PIN.
How does skimming happen?
The criminal compiles the data from the skimming device and the camera(s) and creates fake debit cards using the stolen information.
As technology advances, skimming devices and hidden cameras are becoming much more difficult to detect. Skimming can happen at ATMs, gas pumps and anywhere else credit and debit cards are accepted. It is important to know what you can do to help protect yourself from a skimming attempt.
3 Tips to help you protect yourself from skimming:
Cover Your PIN
Always cover the keypad of a machine when putting your PIN in using your hand. Criminals use hidden cameras to steal PIN information. By covering the keypad, you significantly decrease the chances of a criminal accessing your PIN.
Observe the ATM
Before using a machine, look for anything that may look out-of-place. If the card reader feels loose, there may be a skimmer attached. A genuine card reader will be securely attached to the ATM. Be sure to examine the keypad as well. If the keypad looks different from the rest of the machine, something may be wrong. Lastly, you will want to inspect the machine and surrounding area for any hidden cameras.
Monitor Your Accounts
Regularly check your accounts online. If there is any suspicious activity on your account, contact us immediately at 401.233.4700
Don’t answer calls or texts from numbers not in your contact list. Many scam calls or texts are from random numbers. Legitimate callers will leave a message, if they cannot reach you. Scammers will also leave messages but you can listen to the voicemail and evaluate the content on your terms.
- Take Your Time. Scammers often try to create a false deadline. Do not be intimidated by threats.
- Call the police. Notify family members. Do not hesitate to contact Navigant Credit Union.
- Scammers might pretend to be law enforcement or a federal agency. They might say you’ll be arrested, fined, or deported if you do not pay a fine, taxes or some other debt right away.
- The goal is to scare you into paying but real law enforcement and federal agencies will not call and threaten you.
- Government agencies do not call to confirm your sensitive information. Never give out sensitive information like your Social Security number to someone who calls you unexpectedly, even if they say they are with the Social Security Administration, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or your financial institution.
- The caller might say you were “selected” for an offer or that you have won a lottery but if you have to pay to get the prize, it is not a prize.
- Do not be fooled by false promises of riches. You cannot win a contest you never entered or does not exist.
- Do not trust your caller ID. Scammers can make any phone number appear as it is coming from a legitimate caller. This process is called spoofing. Any call can be made to appear to be legitimate.
- Let calls you are not expecting or are not in your contact list go to voicemail.
- Phone scammers may pose as charities. Scams requesting donations for current disaster relief efforts are especially common on the phone immediately following a crisis.
- Always check out a charity before you give, and do not feel pressured to give immediately over the phone before you do.
- Even if you initiate a phone call from a number you found on a website or social media posting, you may still become a phone scam victim.
- Before you give any personal or financial information over the phone, check out the company's credentials — ask the person to mail you information, check with the Better Business Bureau, take a look at the company's website and ask for references.
- Beware of callers who are offering a free trial to sign-up for products, sometimes several products at once, that you get billed for on a monthly basis.
- Any business that will not allow you the time to evaluate an offer is not worth doing business with.
- Be aware of other family members, particularly the elderly, who may have been victimized by a phone scammer.
- Victims are frequently warned not to tell anyone the content of the phone call. Be alert for an elderly family member wanting to leave the room after receiving a phone call, or seeming upset after the call and not wanting to discuss it.
- Be aware of, after an unexpected phone call or text, the receiver of the call conducts a banking transaction.
Remember, there are plenty of resources out there that will help you stay safe and keep you from being scammed from your hard earned money. Your best defense is your knowledge and use of resources available to protect you.
Spoofed calls are phone calls that appear to be from your financial institution with the purpose of tricking you into providing personal information. Navigant Credit Union will never ask you via phone, text, or email the following pieces of information:
- Full Social Security Number or Account Number
- Full Debit Card Number or Pin Number
- Online/Mobile Banking Log-In Information
It’s important to remember that if you suspect the call to be a spoofed call, a good rule of thumb is to hang up and call us directly. Don’t use the call-back number on the phone because that may go back to the fraudster.