Protect Your Financial Information by Recognizing the Five P’s of Common Fraud Schemes
Credit Union of Colorado Says the Best Defense is Awareness
Scammers are always on the prowl for their next victim.
“Scammers use a variety of tactics to steal private financial information and holiday joy. Once they have access to credit card or bank account details, they can make unauthorized charges, drain your accounts, and steal your identity,” says Chad Wilcox, senior vice president of lending at Credit Union of Colorado. “Credit Union of Colorado is here to help you recognize the five P’s of common fraud schemes. Once you are aware of these schemes, you can give scam artists exactly what they deserve – a lump of coal.”
The Five P’s of Common Fraud Schemes:
- Fraudsters PRETEND to be from a known organization
Scam artists often impersonate government organizations or companies you do business with, such as the Credit Union of Colorado. These criminals will also make up names that sound like well-known businesses or service providers and use technology to change the number displayed on your caller ID.
- Fraudsters say there’s a PROBLEM
These crooks know how to get your attention. They’ll use scare tactics to get you to respond to demands for cash, gift cards, wire transfers, or account access. Victims are often convinced they need to open their wallets after being told they:
- Owe back taxes
- Are in trouble with the law
- Need to resolve an account issue
- Are at risk of being physically hurt
- Have a family member in a financial crisis
The scammer always claims to have the solution but will only provide it in exchange for your money or private financial information.
- Fraudsters PRESSURE you to act immediately
Crooks want you to act fast and keep the communication secret. They might call, email or text with threats to arrest, sue, or humiliate you if you don’t immediately do what they say. They don’t want you to take the time to verify their story.
- Fraudsters tell you to PAY in a specific way
Thieves often insist that you pay by cash, gift card, wire transfer, or virtual currency like Bitcoin. These payment methods are not easily traced or canceled. Some will send you a fake paper check for more than the amount needed, tell you to deposit it and instruct you to send them the difference.
- Fraudsters ask you to claim a PRIZE
Have you ever received an email, text, or phone call of congratulations for a contest or sweepstakes you don’t remember entering? As enticing as the notification sounds, wise consumers ignore these attempts to lure victims into this common scam. Fraudsters will lie and say you’ve won money in a lottery or were approved for a free grant. There’s one big catch – you must pay a fee to claim your alleged prize.
How to Avoid Scams:
Awareness is key to avoiding scams all year round. Before acting on any unsolicited request for personal information, remember the following tips.
- Impersonation scams take many forms. Government agencies and tech companies rarely call you out of the blue or send text messages demanding payment. If it’s a legitimate request, they won’t mind if you call them back at the number displayed on the organization’s actual website.
- Fraudsters manufacture fake problems and emergencies. Confirm claims of out-of-town accidents and legal trouble by contacting family or local law enforcement. Look up the number. Do not call the number provided to you by a caller or the one that appears on your caller ID – numbers are frequently faked.
- Never pay to resolve a legal matter or claim a prize using virtual currency, cash, a wire transfer, or gift cards. These methods of payment are hard to trace and are most often associated with fraud schemes. You may not be able to dispute or recall transactions you authorize, even if you later discover it was a scam.
- Credit Union of Colorado will NEVER ask you for a verification code, website password, or full activated card number over the phone, via text message, or email. Whenever you contact a financial institution regarding your account, you may be asked to verify your identity in other ways. You should never divulge financial details to someone who calls you out of the blue.
- If it feels off, it probably is. Lotteries, loans, and jobs do not fall through if you ask for a few hours to think about it. Trust your instincts.“We encourage our members to stay alert to potential fraud schemes. Your best defense is awareness,” says Wilcox. “If you believe you may be the victim of a scam, we recommend using Credit Union of Colorado’s Fraud Checklist to recover the security of your accounts and possibly your identity.”
Credit Union of Colorado in your community: Founded in 1934, Credit Union of Colorado is one of the largest credit unions in the state and is deeply connected to the communities where its members live and work. The credit union’s “here to help” culture is demonstrated by its strong support of local communities through financial donations, promotional sponsorships, and employee volunteerism. Credit Union of Colorado offers the latest in banking with 18 full-service locations throughout the state featuring lobby service centers, safe deposit boxes, drive-up tellers, and surcharge-free, drive-up ATMs. The credit union also provides its members with the convenience of digital banking with remote check deposit and access to Zelle®, a fast, safe, and easy way to send money right from your mobile banking app or online banking account.
With more than 85 years of experience, Credit Union of Colorado is a stable, member-owned financial institution with more than $2 billion in assets serving more than 140,000 members. The Credit Union of Colorado Foundation supports education and emergency human services programs through college scholarships and grants to nonprofit organizations.