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Grandparent Scam

Posted in Fraud Alerts on 11.19.18

During the “Grandparent Scam”, a fraudster contacts an innocent person over the phone and claims to be his or her grandchild. The caller pretends to be in trouble (in the hospital, in jail or stuck in a foreign country) and in need of financial help. The “grandchild” will include details that make the situation seem incredibly believable, and of course, the “grandparent” wants to help.

The fraudster will request that money be sent via wire transfer as soon as possible. Often the caller will say that a lawyer, doctor or police officer, someone in an authoritative position, will call the victim to verify the situation. The scammer will also advise the grandparent “not to tell mom and dad”.

This scam takes advantage of the older people in our community who would immediately respond to help their loved ones. The caller speaks to them in a distraught manner, making the victim feel as though he or she must act immediately.

In 2017, nearly one in five people reported losing money in an impostor scheme like the grandparent scam, amounting to a loss of $328 million, according to the FTC. Those aged 70 and older have suffered the highest average losses.

Fraudsters obtain personal information about their victims so they can make their stories plausible. They often use social networking sites to obtain the names, ages and affiliations of the people they pose as.

How to protect yourself during this scam:

  • If you do receive such a call, pause for a moment before panicking or sending money.
  • Verify the caller’s identity by asking questions someone else couldn’t possibly answer, such as the name and species of your grandchild’s first pet.
  • Hang up the phone and call the family member or the person who supposedly called you. If he or she doesn’t answer, call the parents or someone else who could verify the location of that person.
  • If the caller requests a wire transfer, such as through Western Union or MoneyGram, an overnight delivery of cash or a check, or a prepaid card/gift card, you can bet it is a scam. Wire transfers and overnight delivery services are untraceable and therefore commonly used in scams.
  • Hospitals, courts, etc. will not accept gift cards as a payment method.

How to protect yourself now:

  • Ramp up the privacy settings on your social media accounts.
  • Use antivirus and anti-spyware software.
  • Don’t open attachments or click on links in emails from people you don’t know, or in emails that just seem suspicious. Infected attachments or links could install malware on your computer, giving criminals the ability to access your computer remotely, hold your computer files ransom or obtain your login credentials and other personal/financial information.
  • If you’re a victim of a grandparent scam or another form of fraud, report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.

    Social Media Scam Warning

    Posted in Fraud Alerts on 9.27.18

    Article by Joan Goodchild, SecurityIntelligence.com

    By empowering users to share and connect, social media platforms open the door for a variety of different security and privacy concerns. Here are the seven most prominent scams of the year (so far).

    1. Catfishing – Catfishing is an internet scam in which a cybercriminal creates a fake online profile to seduce a victim into a fictitious online relationship — usually to get money or other benefits from the victim.

    2. Profile Hijacking – Cybercriminals often use the attributes and details of real people — like their photos, hometown and occupation — to set up profiles pretending to be that person and scam other people in their network.

    3. Lottery Schemes – Fraudsters use fake Facebook and Instagram profiles to claim a person has won a large lottery prize, but say the “winner” must send gift cards in order to collect it.

    4. Quizzes That Mine Your Information – Which “Stars Wars” character are you? What city were you meant to live in? Which celebrity is your soulmate? Sound familiar? These are all popular quizzes that have been widely shared on Facebook, but are actually tricks to get users to share their information.

    5. URL-Shortening Cons – While URL shorteners are very useful for sharing a website link within a tight character limit, such as Twitter, they can also be used to mask a malicious page.

    6. Chain Message Hoaxes – Snapchat has run into a problem with chain message hoaxes, where fraudsters alarm users that something terrible is going to happen to their data within the app or that unfavorable photos of the person will be shared throughout the app.

    7. Money-Flipping – Criminals seek to extort money from users by convincing them to make a bum investment. Cybercriminals make it seem like their victims are investing their money in a business model that lets them ‘flip’ or double their money in no time at all.

    Read the full article to learn more about each of these scams here.

    IRS Warns of Tax Return Scam

    Posted in Fraud Alerts on 2.22.18

    The IRS has issued a tax fraud alert to warn consumers about a new tax return scam. Fraudsters are filing tax returns using victims’ information. The victims receive the erroneous refund (before filing their actual taxes) either by check or direct deposit. The scammer poses as an IRS agent or a debt collector and contacts the victims claiming they received a fake refund and they must send the funds back to the “IRS”. In some versions of the scam, the taxpayers who receive the erroneous refund get an automated call with a recorded voice saying he is from the IRS and threatens the victims with criminal fraud charges, an arrest warrant and a “blacklisting” of their Social Security Number. The recorded voice gives the victims a case number and a telephone number to call to return the refund. When the victims send the funds back, they don’t send them back to the IRS, but to the scammer.

    This scam has already impacted tens of thousands of people, and can have a devastating impact on victims, including identity theft, financial loss and a sense of violation. It’s extremely important to stay vigilant against these scams, and be extra careful in keeping your personal information safe and secure.

    If you receive a suspicious direct deposit, you can protect yourself by doing the following:

    • Contact Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union at 978-452-5001 or visit a branch immediately. We will send the funds back to the IRS.
    • Call the IRS toll-free at 800-829-1040 (individual) or 800-829-4933 (business) to explain why the direct deposit is being returned.
    • Discuss the issue with your tax preparer.
    • Refer to the website Identity Theft for guidance on identity theft.

    If you get a mailed check and haven’t cashed it, follow these steps:

    • Write “Void” in the endorsement section on the back of the check.
    • Submit the check immediately to the appropriate IRS location listed below.* The location is based on the city (possibly abbreviated) on the bottom text line in front of the words TAX REFUND on your refund check.
    • Don’t staple, bend or paper clip the check.
    • Include a note stating, “Return of erroneous refund check because (and give a brief explanation of the reason for returning the refund check).”
    • Discuss the issue with your tax preparer.
    • Refer to the website Identity Theft for guidance on identity theft.

    If you’ve cashed a false check, follow these instructions:

    • Submit a personal check, money order, etc., immediately to the appropriate IRS location listed below.
    • If you no longer have access to a copy of the check, call the IRS toll-free at 800-829-1040 (individual) or 800-829-4933 (business) and explain to the IRS assistor that you need information to repay a cashed refund check.
    • Write on the check/money order: Payment of Erroneous Refund, the tax period for which the refund was issued, and your taxpayer identification number (social security number, employer identification number, or individual taxpayer identification number).
    • Include a brief explanation of the reason for returning the refund.
    • Repaying an erroneous refund in this manner may result in interest due the IRS.
    • Discuss the issue with your tax preparer.
    • Refer to the website Identity Theft for guidance on identity theft.

    * For your fake paper refund check, here are the IRS mailing addresses to use based on the city (possibly abbreviated). These cities are located on the check’s bottom text line in front of the words TAX REFUND:

    • ANDOVER – Internal Revenue Service, 310 Lowell Street, Andover MA 01810
    • ATLANTA – Internal Revenue Service, 4800 Buford Highway, Chamblee GA 30341
    • AUSTIN – Internal Revenue Service, 3651 South Interregional Highway 35, Austin TX 78741
    • BRKHAVN – Internal Revenue Service, 5000 Corporate Ct., Holtsville NY 11742
    • CNCNATI – Internal Revenue Service, 201 West Rivercenter Blvd., Covington KY 41011
    • FRESNO – Internal Revenue Service, 5045 East Butler Avenue, Fresno CA 93727
    • KANS CY – Internal Revenue Service, 333 W. Pershing Road, Kansas City MO 64108-4302
    • MEMPHIS – Internal Revenue Service, 5333 Getwell Road, Memphis TN 38118
    • OGDEN – Internal Revenue Service, 1973 Rulon White Blvd., Ogden UT 84201
    • PHILA – Internal Revenue Service, 2970 Market St., Philadelphia PA 19104

    Robo-Call VISA® Debit Card Scam

    Posted in Fraud Alerts on 11.17.17

    We have been made aware of a robo-call circulating in the area that informs call recipients that their VISA® debit card has been blocked and that they should enter their card number to have it unblocked. The recorded message does not give any indication that they are calling on behalf of Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union or another financial institution, and the Caller ID shows the number as blocked or as “private”.

    Fraudsters will no doubt take advantage of the holiday shopping season to send out emails, test messages and phone calls to scare consumers into thinking their debit or credit card has been blocked or compromised. No one wants to have their cards unavailable for use, and some folks may react before they realize it’s a scam. That’s exactly what these criminal want.

    Please be especially cautious of emails, text messages and phone calls this holiday season. If someone reaches out to you and asks you to provide personal or financial information, it’s in all likelihood a scam. If you are unsure if the call is legitimate, reach out to your financial institution directly to inquire about the status of your account. Do not respond or reply to the email, text message or phone call received.

    Please share this scam alert and these preventative measures with your friends and family to raise awareness and to avoid becoming a scam victim.

    Phone “Spoofing” Scam

    Posted in Fraud Alerts on 10.30.17

    Fraudsters are now “spoofing” phone numbers from financial institutions with the hope that call recipients will divulge their personal and financial information, especially credit card data. The caller will identify themselves as being from the credit union or bank and inform the recipient that they are eligible for a lower credit card rate as a result of credit information supplied by Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion (all consumer credit bureaus). Unsuspecting call recipients may be tricked into sharing their card data which can then be used by the fraudster to run up unauthorized charges.

    We’ve learned that the Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union name is now being used in these scams.
    Caller ID may show as JDCU and the caller may identify themselves as “Harry Williams” (or any other name the fraudster chooses to use).

    Please be very cautious when responding to phone calls, emails and text messages regarding Equifax or any other credit bureau. Never share your personal or financial information with unsolicited callers. If you are asked to provide your credit card data or account number information, simply hang up. It’s best to not engage these fraudsters in any conversation. If you are unsure if the call is legitimate, please reach out to your financial institution directly.