Fraud Scams and Security
Security is Our Priority
Your personal information is valuable, not only the key to your financial identity, but also to your online identity. Members have recently received phone calls and texts from fraudsters posing as credit union employees - a scam called Credit Union Impersonation. Fraudsters spoof credit union phone numbers and email addresses and use pieces of personal information to gain members’ trust before stealing account funds. Knowing how to protect your information — and your identity — is a must in the 21st century. Here are some tips to doing it effectively.
What is a Credit Union Impersonation Scam?
Successful credit union impersonation scams occur when members are convinced they’re communicating with an actual credit union representative via live voice call (Vishing), SMS text message (SMishing), or email (Phishing). But, in reality, they’re sharing confidential information with a scammer.
Fraudsters use spoofing techniques to make it appear as though the communication is from the institution so they can:
- Steal your debit card information
- Bypass security protections and access your account online; and
- Solicit funds for fake payments
Credit Union Impersonation Scam Scenarios
A scammer will do everything they can to appear as if they are a real credit union employee attempting to assist you with your account.
Typical Vishing Scenario:
Posing as a credit union representative, the scammer contacts the member using a spoofed phone number. The caller claims they need to discuss an important matter, but they must first confirm the member’s identity. The scammer is already on the credit union’s online banking website and informs the member they need to provide the PIN sent to the member’s phone or answer security questions. Since the caller says they’re from the credit union and the number on the Caller ID appears to confirm it, the member doesn’t hesitate to provide the requested information.
Vishing allows the scammer to use the information provided by the member to complete the login. They proceed to lock the member out of their account by changing the online banking password. The fraudster then transfers funds from the member’s account to their own temporary account before vanishing without a trace. The caller might even encourage the member to transfer funds to an external account claiming that the payment will be applied to a specific credit union loan.
Typical Phishing and Smishing Scenario:
Posing as a credit union fraud department employee, the scammer sends a spoofed email or text message to a member alerting them to suspicious debit card activity. Instructions urge the member to reply to the original message with account details, such as card numbers, CV2 codes, PINs, or other online account credentials. Phishing and SMishing give the scammer valuable data they can use to make unauthorized charges or access the member’s account.
How to Protect Yourself from Credit Union Impersonation Scams:
- Never share private information via SMS text message. Legitimate attempts to validate credit or debit activity only require a simple response (YES or NO) via text.
- Do not click on hyperlinked phone numbers sent via SMS text or on links inside emails.
- Pause before providing personal data via voice calls you did not initiate, even if the caller ID reads Tulare County FCU. Hang up and contact us using our phone number 559-686-1791.
Tulare Federal will never contact you directly to request any of your account information, including:
- Social Security Number
- Credit or Debit Card Numbers
- Security Code or CVV
- PIN – Personal Identification Number
- Date of Birth
- Online Banking Login Information
- Verification Codes
If someone contacts you and requests this information or your account details by phone do not share any information and hang up immediately. Likewise, if you receive an email, website pop-up, or text with a suspicious link – stop and think before you click.
Fighting Fraud Together
We use a variety of very strong security practices to keep your accounts safe, and we’re actively taking a number of additional countermeasures to combat unauthorized activity. Still, member vigilance is our most effective form of fraud prevention.
The most important thing is to NEVER share your security credentials with anyone, and if something doesn’t seem right, report it right away. If you do receive a fraudulent email, phone call or text impersonating Tulare Federal, please call the credit union at 559-686-1791, so we can stay at the forefront of any potential scams or fraud campaigns targeting our members.
The FTC has valuable information on its website regarding unwanted calls, emails, and texts. Read more…
While identity theft can happen to anyone, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk. If you think someone is using your personal information to open accounts, file taxes, or make purchases, visit IdentityTheft.gov to report and recover from identity theft.
The internet offers access to a world of products and services, entertainment and information. At the same time, it creates opportunities for scammers, hackers, and identity thieves. Learn how to protect your computer, your information, and your online files. Visit ftc.gov for tips on how to secure yourself hackers, scammers, and identity thieves.