Please be aware of scams related to the coronavirus (COVID-19). Scammers use fake emails, text messages, and phone calls to get you to share valuable personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, and passwords.
It is especially important that you protect yourself against spoofing. Spoofing is when scammers use fake caller ID information when they call, which makes the call appear to be from a familiar number. Never rely on the caller ID to identify a caller. As a reminder, PEFCU will NEVER contact you to request confidential information, like your online password, PIN, or other account credentials. The following information will help you protect yourself from fraud and scams.
Common COVID-19 Scams
According to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the most common types of scams related to COVID-19 include the following:
- Imposter Scams: Attempts to solicit donations, steal personal information, or distribute malware (viruses) by impersonating government agencies (e.g., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), international organizations (e.g., World Health Organization (WHO), or healthcare organizations.
- Investment Scams: Promotions that falsely claim that the products or services of publicly traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure coronavirus.
- Product Scams: The selling of unapproved or misbranded products that make false health claims pertaining to COVID-19; fraudulent marketing of COVID-19-related supplies, such as certain facemasks.
- Insider Trading: Suspected COVID-19-related insider trading.
According to USA.gov, banking scams involve attempts to access your bank account. Use this information to recognize, report, and protect yourself from them.
- Overpayment scams: A scam artist sends you a counterfeit check. They tell you to deposit it in your bank account and wire part of the money back to them. Since the check was fake, you will have to pay your bank the amount of the check, plus you will lose any money you wired.
- Unsolicited check fraud: A scammer sends you a check for no reason. If you cash it, you may be authorizing the purchase of items or signing up for a loan you did not ask for.
- Automatic withdrawals: A scam company sets up automatic debits from your bank account to qualify for a free trial or to collect a prize.
- Phishing: You receive an email message that asks you to verify your bank account or debit card number.
Telephone Scams: Spoofing
Telephone scammers try to steal your money or personal information. Scams may come through phone calls from real people, robocalls, or text messages. The callers often make false promises, such as opportunities to buy products, invest your money, or receive free product trials. They may also offer you money through free grants and lotteries. Some scammers may call with threats of jail or lawsuits if you do not pay them.
If you suspect any fraudulent activity, or if a caller claiming to be from PEFCU requests your personal information, please tell them that you’ll contact our Member Contact Center at 1-800-226-6673 to provide that info.
Furthermore, it's vital to report phone scams to federal agencies. They can’t investigate individual cases. But your report can help them collect evidence for lawsuits against scammers.
- Report telephone scams online to the Federal Trade Commission. You can also call 1-877-382-4357. The FTC is the primary government agency that collects scam complaints.
- Report all robocalls and unwanted telemarketing calls to the Do Not Call Registry.
- Report caller ID spoofing to the Federal Communications Commission either online or by phone at 1-888-225-5322.
- For more help in resolving consumer issues, you can report scams to your state consumer protection office.
More Safety Tips
- Don’t open suspicious emails.
- Don’t click suspicious links or attachments.
- Hang up on suspicious calls or robocalls.
- Don’t give out your debit card information over the phone.
- Don’t give out your username or password over the phone.
- Don’t give in to pressure to take immediate action.
- Don’t say anything if a caller starts the call asking, “Can you hear me?” This is a common tactic for scammers to record you saying, “Yes.” Scammers record your “yes” response and use it as proof that you agreed to a purchase or credit card charge.
- Don’t provide your credit card number, bank account information, or other personal information to a caller.
- Hang up on suspicious phone calls.
- Be cautious of caller ID. Scammers can change the phone number that shows up on your caller ID screen. This is called “spoofing.”
- Register your phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry. You may register online or by calling 1-888-382-1222. If you still receive telemarketing calls after registering, there’s a good chance that the calls are scams.
- Don’t send money if a caller tells you to wire money or pay with a prepaid debit card.
- Don’t give your bank account number to someone who calls you, even for verification purposes.
To review more tips for protecting yourself against scams, visit the following USA.gov webpage: Common Scams and Fraud.
Thank you for taking these steps to protect yourself.