4 Parking Lot Scams To Watch For This Spring

The buds are sprouting-and so are the scams. Watch out for these common parking lotWords "Scam Alert" on asphalt next to double yellow line scams as you attend baseball games, outdoor concerts and other events this spring and summer.

1.) The bogus parking attendant

In this scam, you arrive at an event where an attendant points you to a nearby lot. You pull in, pay for your parking spot and get a payment stub as proof of purchase. But, when the event is over, you look for the attendant who took your payment and they’re gone. And, unfortunately, so is your car.

How it went down: The attendant was no attendant. A clever scammer, who might look like the genuine article thanks to a bogus uniform, simply collected your money and then ran off. Your car was parked illegally in the lot, and the lot’s real owner had it towed.

The fix: Only entrust your car to a parking lot attendant with an official logo, a real sign and a contact number. If you’re suspicious, do a quick search on the company.

Also, be sure to examine the “payment stub” before leaving the lot to attend the event. It should appear authentic, and at the very least contain some information about the parking service as well as actual proof that you paid.

2.) The trick-it ticket

This scam starts much like the other. You’ll attend an event, pay for parking and return to your car when the event is over. Only this time, instead of finding that your car has been removed, you’ll find a ticket stuck on your windshield for illegal parking. You’ll also find a helpful note informing you about a lawyer who can help you lower the ticket, or about an online site through which you can pay the fee.

How it went down: Sometimes, the ticket you find on your windshield may be authentic. However, it’s sometimes just a slip of paper that was stuck on by scammers. In both scenarios, though, the helpful note about a lawyer or an online platform for paying the ticket is bogus. The “lawyer” is usually a scammer hoping to milk you for some cash and the online site is riddled with malware, which can infect your computer.

The fix: Avoid tickets by only using official parking lots. Look for real signs instead of just a “Park Here” notice slapped onto a pole.

If you’re ticketed, look for an official police department logo along with contact information. If you’re still in doubt, you can check the authenticity with your local police department.

If you need the assistance of a lawyer, contact one on your own. Skilled lawyers won’t need to beg you for their business, and those sticking notes on your cars are either scammers or incompetent.

Finally, never share your personal information on a random site. Only pay a ticket online if you’re absolutely sure it’s a police site.

3.) The phony mechanic

In this scam, you’ll return to your car after an event only to find that the car won’t start. A “helpful” bystander will offer their assistance-for a price. They may even claim to be a mechanic or an expert in cars. After extorting you for an enormous amount of cash, they’ll gladly pop open your hood and “fix” your car.

How it went down: The “mechanic” knows enough about cars to disable your vehicle without popping the hood while you were gone. They’ve immobilized your vehicle in an easy-to-fix way, like disconnecting the distributor or an electrical cable. This way, they can appear to “fix” it in seconds.

The fix: If your car suddenly won’t start and some super-helpful mechanics just happen to be passing by, refuse their offer for “help.” Call AAA or another auto service instead.

4) False accidents

You’re backing out of a parking space, careful to check your rearview mirror and backup camera to make sure the coast is clear before you hit the gas, when there’s a sudden, sickening bump. You’ve hit someone. You rush out of your car and find that you’ve hit a pedestrian who promises to make an insurance claim against you unless you pay them off.

How it went down: The accident “victim” was hiding out of your line of vision and then leaped behind your car as soon as you started driving.

The fix: If this happens to you, look for a closed-circuit video camera and ask the lot’s security guard if you can review the tape. With any luck, you’ll see the con artist pulling their ruse and then you can turn the tables and threaten to press charges if the scammer doesn’t scram.

If you’re in a deserted area without no surveillance nearby, don’t pay any fees until a doctor examines the “victim’s” injuries.

Your Turn: Have you ever been targeted by a parking lot scam? Tell us all about it in the comments.

SOURCES:
https://scambusters.org/parkinglotscam.html

https://www.tmj4.com/call4action/stay-alert-for-springtime-scams
https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-02-2011/spring-scams.html

Beware Tech Support Scams

The FTC is warning of a surge in tech support scams, many of which can be difficult toclose up of cell phone in hands spot.

In a recent widespread scam, a company calling itself Elite IT Partners, Inc., purchased keywords so it showed in searches for password recovery assistance. Victims contacted the “company,” which asked them to fill out an online form with their contact information.

Scammers then called the victims, asking for remote access to their computers. Once inside, they used phony evidence to convince victims that their computers were in need of repairs requiring pricey software. The scammers accepted payment for this software, but did not provide it.

Tech support scams don’t always follow the above script. Here are two other common scenarios:

  1. Phone calls

In this variation, scammers spoof the numbers of well-known companies claiming they’ve found a problem with the victim’s computer. They’ll ask for remote access to it, run a “diagnostic test,” and plant bogus problems. They’ll then ask the victim to pay an exorbitant amount of money to get the issue fixed.

Red flag: Legitimate tech-support companies will never initiate contact by phone.

  1. Pop-up warnings

Sometimes, a tech-support scammer will target victims with an alarming pop-up warning. The pop-up might look like a legitimate error from the victim’s system or antivirus software. The message will warn about a computer security issue and instruct the victim to call a listed number. Once the victim calls, they’ll be asked to grant the scammer remote access to their computer. The scam will then proceed much like what’s described above.

Red flag: Legitimate security warnings from tech companies will never ask you to call a phone number.

If you’ve been scammed

Are you a victim of a tech-support scam? It may not be too late to reclaim your money.

If you paid via credit or debit card, you may be able to stop the transaction. Contact your credit card company or [credit union] about contesting the charge.

You’ll also want to update your computer’s security software and run a scan. Delete anything your computer identifies as a security issue. Be sure to change your usernames and passwords as well.

Finally, don’t forget to report your scam to the FTC.

Your Turn: Have you been targeted by a tech-support scam? Tell us about it in the comments.

SOURCES:
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2019/03/keep-tech-support-strangers-out-your-computer

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4013405/windows-protect-from-tech-support-scams
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-spot-avoid-and-report-tech-support-scams

8 Ways To Spot A Job Scam

If you’re in the market for a new job, or you’re looking for extra part-time work, be woman holding phone looking at clipboardcareful. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning of a surge in employment scams of every kind. Victims might have their accounts emptied, their identities stolen, or they may even find themselves facing jail time for money laundering charges.

Protect yourself from employment scams by holding up any job you’re considering against this list of red flags:

1.) The job pays very well for easy work

If a job description offers a high hourly rate for non-skilled work with no experience necessary, you can assume it’s a scam. Legitimate companies will not overpay for work that anyone can do. Carefully read the wording of the job pitch. If the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

2.) The job description is poorly written

Scrutinize every word of the job description. If it’s riddled with typos and spelling mistakes, you’re looking at a scam.

3.) They need to hire you NOW!

If a “business” claims the position needs to be immediately filled and they’re ready for you to start working today, assume it’s a scam. Most legitimate businesses will need time to process your application, properly interview you and determine if you are indeed a good fit.

4.) The business has no traceable street address or real online presence

If you’ve spotted a position on an online job board, your first step should be researching the company. Google the company name to see what the internet has to say about them. If you suspect a scam, search the name with words like “scam” and “fraud” in the search string. Look for a brick-and-mortar address, a phone number and a real online presence. If all you find are help-wanted ads and a P.O. Box, move on to better job leads.

5.) You need to share sensitive information just to apply

Does the “job application” you’re looking at seek sensitive details, like your Social Security number and/or a checking account number? Such information should not be necessary just to submit an application. You might even be innocently asked to share details you think are minor, like your date of birth, name of your hometown, first pet’s name or your mother’s maiden name. Of course, these are all keys to open up access to your passwords and/or PINs.

There’s no surer sign you’re dealing with crooks than being asked to share information that practically guarantees you’ll be scammed.

6.) You need to pay a steep fee to apply

Some legitimate companies charge a nominal application fee for hopeful employees. However, if the fee is absurdly high, or the company asks you to cash a check for them and then refund it, you’re being scammed.

7.) There’s no business email

Some job scammers will impersonate well-known companies to look authentic. For example, you might think you’re applying to an off-site job at Microsoft. You’ll be told to email your resume to JohnSmithMicrosoftHR@gmail.com. Your red flag here is the email address: The domain is generic. If the “recruiter” genuinely represented Microsoft, the email address would be something like JohnSmith@HR.Microsoft.com.

8.) The “recruiter” found your resume on a job board you never use

If the “recruiter” claims they’ve picked up your resume on a job board you don’t remember visiting, it’s not your memory failing you. Job-scammers often scrape victims’ personal details off the internet and then pretend to have received a resume. They’ll know you’re looking for a job, and they’ll know enough about you to convince you they’ve got your resume, but it’s all a scam. If someone contacts you about a position you’ve never applied for, or claims to have found your resume on a job board you’ve never visited, run the other way!

As always, practice caution when online. Keep your browser updated and strengthen the privacy settings on your social media accounts. When engaged in a public forum, don’t share information that can make you vulnerable, like your exact birthdate or employment history. Never wire money to people you don’t know well or agree to cash a stranger’s check in exchange for a commission. Above all, keep your guard up when online and use common sense: When in doubt, opt out!

Your Turn: Have you been targeted by a job scam? Tell us about it in the comments, below!

SOURCES:
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts

https://www.job-hunt.org/onlinejobsearchguide/job-search-scams.shtml
https://www.whatismybrowser.com/guides/how-to-be-safe-online/why-should-i-update-my-web-browser

7 Naughty Scams To Watch Out For This Holiday Season

‘Tis the season to be jolly! And unfortunately, ’tis also the season for scammers to go afterMan sitting among computers with santa hat on your hard-earned dollars. Keep your money safe by reading up on the most common scams taking place this time of year and practicing caution.

Phishing emails

Always popular, phishing scams get even more prevalent before the holidays. They can take the form of bogus delivery confirmation requests seeking your information or even a personalized letter to your child from “Santa.”

Be extra careful this holiday season when it comes to sharing personal information online or with an unverified requester.

Fake charities

Sadly, many scammers will capitalize on the goodwill that flourishes this time of year by asking you to make a donation to a charity that does not actually exist. Verify the authenticity of any charity you’d like to make a contribution to by checking it out on a website like  CharityNavigator.org. Also, it’s best to contact a charity on your own instead of following a website or email link.

Package theft

It’s holiday time, and those UPS and FedEx trucks are everywhere, dropping off boxes of goodies all over the neighborhood.

Usually, these drop-offs go as planned. Unfortunately, though, some 23 million customers will have their packages stolen from their doorsteps this year.

Don’t be one of them! If possible, and especially when ordering something expensive, arrange for a delivery that requires your signature upon receipt. Otherwise, track your order and know when to look out for it so you can bring it inside as quickly as possible after it’s dropped off.

When sending a gift to someone else via Amazon, consider sending it to an Amazon Locker location instead of to the recipient’s household. There’s no fee for using this service, and this way, your gift is safe.

Bogus sites

You might get lucky and find that perfect gift at a super-low price, but don’t believe any ads or websites that are practically giving away the good stuff for free. These are, quite likely, scams. Once you click an ad link and place an order, you’ll never hear from the site again. Worse yet, they may use the information you shared to empty your accounts.

Only shop on reputable sites. Remember to check the website address/URL before placing an order. It may look strikingly similar to a popular site, but if one letter is off or missing completely, the site is bogus and you need to get out. Also, always look for that important “s” after the “http” in the web address to verify a site’s security.

Fake freebies

Did you really just see a Facebook post offering you a new iPhone, completely free of charge? If you have, run the other way and don’t look back! You’re looking at a scam, designed to lure you into sharing your information with criminals or unwittingly installing malware on your device.

Fake freebies run the gamut from new phones, complementary cruises and various luxury gift items to free holiday-themed downloads, like music, wallpaper and games.

If you’re offered any outrageous free gifts by text message, email or social media posts, ignore them. Downloads, though, may be safe, but need to be carefully vetted for authenticity before you accept them.

Defunct gift cards

Many scammers sell expired or empty gift cards this time of year, hoping to make a profit on a card that isn’t worth more than the plastic used to make it.

Ask to inspect any gift card you purchase before you finalize the sale. Check to see if the activation code is exposed. If it is, the scammer has probably already used the card or has copied the information and will use it soon.

Temporary holiday jobs

Lots of businesses are hiring extra hands to get them through the busy holiday season. Don’t get stuck working for criminals!

Many scammers will pose as employees of recognized businesses and post help-wanted ads on social media platforms and popular websites. When a job seeker follows the links in these ads, they are directed to a bogus site that looks just like the site of the company the scammer claims to represent. They’ll be asked to share personal information to submit an application. The scammer will then make off with this information and the promised job will never materialize.

If you’re looking for a seasonal job, apply in-person or directly on a business’s website. Do not follow any links.

As always, be aware and be cautious when enjoying the holiday season. Don’t get grinched! Stay alert and use caution to keep your money – and your information – safe.

Your Turn: Have you been targeted by these or any other seasonal scams? Tell us all about it in the comments.

SOURCES:
https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2017/holiday-season-scams-photo.html

https://www.moneytips.com/9-scams-to-watch-out-for-this-holiday-season
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0074-giving-charity#Signs

Brought to you by Destinations Credit Union.

Don’t Be A Victim Of A Social Security Scam

Any of the hundreds of scams around today can make you feel like we live in a worldmature woman holding a piece of paper gone mad. How cruel can someone be to con a poor victim out of thousands of dollars?

But one of the most heartless scams making the rounds is the one targeting the elderly who depend on Social Security benefits for basic living needs. When these victims are tricked out of their benefits or their accounts are emptied, they may be left with no resources at all.

Worse yet, scammers are fully aware that the elderly make for easy victims. Many older Americans are from a bygone era in which anyone on the phone could be trusted. They haven’t grown up in a society that knows to constantly look over their shoulders and to cover their keypads when punching in a PIN. The elderly can be naïve and trusting, and it is this endearing naivety that can make them fall prey to scams.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning of a recent surge in Social Security scams which, unfortunately, are often successful.

Here’s how these scams work:

The victim receives a phone call from an alleged Social Security employee telling them their benefits have been suspended and must be reactivated. The caller claims the suspension is due to suspicious account activity or that it happened because of a computer glitch. To lift the suspension, the scammer says, the victim must share their personal information, including full legal name, phone number, Social Security number and financial account information.

Alternatively, the victim will receive an automated voice message instructing them to call a specific number to correct a problem with their Social Security benefits. Upon calling the given phone number, the victim is asked to provide their personal information.

In yet another version of this Social Security scam, the victim receives an email that looks like it came from the Social Security Administration (SSA). The email will include a link asking the victim to update their personal information, giving a similar backstory as above.

If you receive Social Security benefits, or you know someone else who does, protect yourself and your loved ones by reviewing and educating others about these tips:

The Social Security Administration will never call about suspended benefits

There’s no reason to believe a caller who claims your benefits have been suspended. First, Social Security benefits don’t get suspended because of computer glitches. Second, the SSA will not call you to request your personal information out the blue. Government agencies rarely make phone calls to private citizens. When they do, the citizen will always know to expect that call.

Never share personal information via unsecured means

Don’t trust just anyone. It’s best not to share personal information over the phone or the internet. If you must, verify that you are interacting with the party you believe you’ve reached. The best way to do so is by contacting the SSA yourself at 1-800-772-1213. Remember, con artists are experts at looking and sounding like genuine government officials. Don’t fall for their tricks.

Report all scam attempts

Help combat these scams by reporting any attempts made to con you out of your personal information.

If you receive a phone call or an email from an alleged SSA employee requesting information, don’t respond. Instead, call the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), or call your local Social Security office and ask if there is actually a problem with your benefits. If, as is likely, there is no problem and you’re being scammed, the SSA will be better equipped to stop the scammers from conning more victims.

You can also call the Office of Inspector General (OIG) at 1-866-501-2101 or complete a Public Fraud Reporting form at the OIG website at socialsecurity.gov.

Finally, report the scam attempt to the FTC at ftc.gov.

Tell your friends and family

Fight back by doing your own part to stop those scammers. Tell anyone you know who receives Social Security benefits about these scams and warn them not to share their information on the phone and online.

Let’s keep our money safe and send those scammers packing!

Your Turn: Have you been targeted by a Social Security scam? Share your story with us in the comments.

SOURCES:
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2018/09/your-social-security-number-isnt-suspended-ever

https://www.ssa.gov/phila/scams.htm
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.fool.com/amp/retirement/2018/09/09/the-social-security-scam-that-just-wont-die.aspx

5 Scams To Avoid This Black Friday

Black Friday and Cyber Monday can be great fun – but they can also put you at great risk.woman shopping black friday sale on tablet Scams abound on the weekend that heralds the holiday shopping season, and you don’t want a phishing scheme or a bogus bargain to turn you into a Grinch.

Here are 5 scams to look out for as you brave the frenzied crowds while trying to snag the best deals after Thanksgiving.

Crazy deals that are actually bogus

The noisy crowds and flashy ads on Black Friday can lead you to make rash decisions and spend more than you planned. But be careful not to leave your senses at home.

An iPhone X retailing at just $12? A pair of genuine Ugg boots for just $9? These deals sound insane because that’s exactly what they are. And yet, thousands of people happily send their money to online stores that are advertising these laughable prices on Black Friday. And of course, once the scammers have your credit card information, they won’t hesitate to use it for their own shopping spree – all on your dime.

Be smarter: Don’t believe any advertised price that is ridiculously low. It’s only bait used by scammers to lure you into their trap. Black Friday deals tend to fall within the 20-30% off range or an offer of free shipping.

Black Friday gift cards for cheap

In the weeks leading up to Black Friday, you might see an explosion of cheap gift cards being sold at online marketplaces. The gift cards are linked to big-name retailers and are offered for a fraction of their real value.

These cards are usually stolen from their real owners. The victim of the theft will likely report the loss and the card will be disabled. And you’ll have forked over your hard-earned money for a card that’s not worth the plastic it’s made from.

Be smarter: Don’t buy any gift cards that are retailing at a heavily marked-down price.

Bait and switch

Want to be the lucky winner of a brand new iPhone X? Just fill out a form with your personal details and take this survey. You may just be the proud new owner of the super-expensive phone!

If you know anything about online scams, you’ll already recognize this one. Your personal details and a site whose authenticity you can’t verify are two things that should never meet. The sweepstakes is just the scammer’s bait to get at your information. And, with holiday expenses growing each year, it’s the perfect time to lure an innocent victim into thinking they’ve just saved a ton of money.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re safe from this scam just because you’re doing all your Black Friday shopping at the mall. “Bait and switch” scams can happen offline, too.

The brick-and-mortar version of this scam is somewhat less nefarious. Retailers will advertise deals so amazing you’ll find yourself traveling across town and battling impossible traffic to grab these bargains. Once you finally reach the store, though, you’ll be told that those items are all sold out, but you can check out the items they do have in stock. You’ll be shown similar, but inferior, products and cheap knockoffs, or nothing you’re interested in at all. These scams are just a waste of your time and often your money, too.

Be smarter: Don’t enter any sweepstakes or believe advertisements for heavily marked-down prices on sites and stores you’re unfamiliar with.

Delivery problems

With so much of your shopping happening online, you probably wouldn’t be surprised to receive an email claiming there’s been a problem with the delivery of one of your purchases. But if you get an email like this asking you to click on a link or download an attachment to arrange an alternative delivery date, you’re looking at a scam. You may also receive a message asking you to pay an extra fee for delivery after you’ve completed an order. Again, this email is bogus and you’re being scammed. Ignore these emails. And, if you have a problem with the delivery of your purchase, contact the seller or company directly.

Be smarter: Never download anything or click on a link from an unverifiable source.

Online purchases that can only be paid for with a wire transfer

If you’re planning on going on an all-out spending spree this Black Friday, use your credit card. It offers you the most protection against purchases that don’t turn out to be what you expected.

A debit card can be a good choice, too, if you’re only shopping at stores and retailers you trust and frequent often (don’t forget that Small Business Saturday is in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday – support your local retailers!).

Never agree to an online purchase demanding payment via money order or wire transfer. These are favorites among scammers since they are similar to paying with cash – once the money has changed hands, there’s almost no way you can get it back.

Be smarter: When frequenting unfamiliar stores and sites, use your credit card.

Be an educated shopper this Black Friday and outsmart scammers!

Your Turn: Have you ever been targeted by a Black Friday scam? Share your experience with us in the comments below.

SOURCES:
https://www.finder.com/black-friday-scams

https://www.scam-detector.com/article/black-friday-scam
https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/6-scams-watch-black-friday-cyber-monday/

Fake Check Scams On The Rise

In early September, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) released a report warning about aWoman writing a check spike in fake check scams across the country. While these scams are not new, their occurrence rate has doubled over the last three years and is up 12% from 2017.

The BBB further announced that billions of dollars in fake checks circulate each year, and that the number of victims this scam snares annually is close to 500,000.

The amount of money lost from these scams is just as staggering: The FTC reported losses of approximately $40 million from fake check scams in just one year.

Perhaps the most alarming aspect of this scam is the fact that the largest pool of its victims falls between the ages of 20 and 29 – a segment of the population that is far more familiar with electronic payment methods, like PayPal and Venmo, than with the archaic paper check. This makes them easy victims for the scam.

Aside from ordinary paper checks, this scam can also be pulled off with cashier’s checks and money orders. Regardless of the medium, each of these scams involves a scammer “overpaying” a victim and requesting the check be cashed with the difference being deposited into a designated account belonging to the scammer.

Steve Baker, an investigator with the BBB, cautions: “What they all have in common is that the check is counterfeit, and just because the money is credited to your account does not mean the check is good.”

Here are the most common variations of the fake check scam:

  1. “Buyers” send sellers a check written out for more than the asking price of an object sold on an online marketplace, such as Craigslist.
  2. Lottery “winners” are rewarded with an inflated prize and given instructions to pay back a part of the check to cover taxes or fees.
  3. “Employees” are granted checks for supplies, with instructions to wire back a part of it to the “company.”

In each case, the fake check or money order seems to clear in the bank or credit union. It is only a few days later, when the victim’s payout to the scammer is deposited and the account does not have sufficient funds to cover it, that the scam becomes clear.

The BBB warns that this scam can be hard to spot, especially for millennials who may not be familiar with paper checks. To that end, learning what to look for to determine a check’s authenticity is the public’s best weapon against this scam.

Wondering if a check is a fake? Hold it up to this checklist:

  • Is the check’s paper stock weak and flimsy?
  • Check the company’s name and address. Are they spelled correctly?
  • Every check will have an identification number printed toward its top and again at the bottom. Verify that these numbers match up.
  • If you’re allegedly holding a lottery-winning check in your hands, the check should be written out from a state lottery commission. If it’s made out by a random company, it’s bogus.
  • Look for the special ink required for the Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR) code that’s at the bottom of the check.
  • The check should have a routing number from its bank. You can Google the bank to find out if the routing number is genuine.

Aside from knowing how to recognize a fake check, it’s important to know which kinds of transactions are likely to be scams. If you come across any of the following, run the other way and don’t look back:

  • You’re asked to wire money to a company you’re not familiar with.
  • You’re given a check by a “buyer” that is made out for more than the item’s sale price.
  • You’re given a check from a foreign bank you’ve never heard of.
  • You’re asked to pay a fee to claim a “prize.”

Now that you know how to spot a fake check and which kind of transactions to avoid at all cost, those scammers don’t stand a chance!

Your Turn: Have you ever been targeted by a fake check scam? Share your story with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
http://www.semissourian.com/story/2549480.html

https://www.news-leader.com/story/news/local/ozarks/2018/09/05/better-business-bureau-releases-report-fake-check-scams/1202964002/
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cbsnews.com/amp/news/fake-check-scams-an-exploding-epidemic-new-report-says-better-business-bureau/

Brought to you by Destinations Credit Union.

7 Ways To Spot A Loan Scam

Your credit’s trending in the wrong direction, you’re short on cash and you’re desperate image of a hand on piles of moneyfor a loan. You need to get your hands on some cash to help pull you out of this tight spot, and you need to do it – fast! Unfortunately, though, it feels like no reputable institution is willing to grant you a loan. And the few that are will do so only with very unforgiving terms.

Then, miraculously, you find it: an ad for an easy loan with great terms that will qualify almost anyone. Best of all, the company is willing to work with borrowers regardless of their financial state. Finally – a way out! It’s the answer you’ve been waiting for. A dream come true.

Or is it?

Most successful scams prey on desperate and vulnerable victims. Loan scams are no exception: They specifically target people who are in dire straits and may be willing do anything to get their hands on some cash.But sadly, falling prey to a loan scam will only pull the borrower deeper into the pit of debt.

Once a loan scammer has snagged a victim, they will begin the process of having the borrower fill out a loan “application.” The victim, eager to get that quick money, willingly shares anything asked of them, including sensitive and personal information. With that info in hand, the scammer can make off with these details and empty the victim’s accounts, charge a shopping spree on the victim’s cards or even steal the victim’s identity.

Sometimes, the scammer may ask for an upfront debit card payment as collateral or insurance for the loan. Obviously, the victim will never see that money again.

Awareness and caution are the best defense. Here’s 7 proven ways to spot a loan scam:

1.) There’s no credit check

Every reputable lender, whether they’re affiliated with a credit union, a car dealership or an online institution, will want to verify that the borrower can, and will, repay the loan before they agree to the transaction. If a lender doesn’t bother checking your credit score and history, you can be sure they have no intention of lending you a dime.

The single exception to this rule is payday loans. Since these have such short terms and extraordinarily high interest rates, lenders don’t bother with credit checks. They still make money even if borrowers occasionally default on their loans.

2.) You’re asked to pay an upfront fee

You shouldn’t have to pay for a loan. When a lender asks you to pay a loan collateral, insurance or fees by prepaid debit card or wire transfer, you’re being scammed! Back out of the deal before it’s too late.

3.) The lender isn’t registered in your state

As per the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), every lender and loan broker must be officially registered in the states where they conduct business. A legitimate lender will have a list of states posted on their site to let borrowers know where they’re registered. If you can’t find this information on the site, and the lender refuses to provide further details, they are likely not legitimate.

4.) The lender is not affiliated with any financial institution

Authentic lenders must operate under a bank or credit union charter. This information should be clearly posted on the lender’s site. If it’s missing, you might be dealing with a scammer.

5.) You’re (sometimes strongly) urged to act immediately

If a lender stresses that you must submit your information and make your upfront payment RIGHT NOW, you’re likely interacting with a scammer. Most loans don’t expire after a few hours, or even a few days. The scammer is only trying to get you to act without thinking.

Exit the site immediately and change your device’s passwords as an extra precaution.

6.) The site isn’t secure

Whenever money is changing hands online, you’ll want to verify that you’re dealing with a legitimate site. The site’s address/URL will give you an easy clue: Look for an “s” after the “http” in the address. If it’s there, the site is secure; if it’s not, back out now!

It’s important to check the site’s security as soon as you hit the homepage. Waiting until you’re ready to submit your information can be too late. Creepy as it may sound, lots of hackers use keystroke loggers, which record as you type. That means, even if you haven’t actually submitted your filled-out application, they may already have all the information they need to scam you. If you check for a site’s security as soon as you’ve connected, though, you’ll exit any unsecured sites before you start typing.

7.) The lender has no physical address

Always do a quick online search using the lender’s official name. If it’s legitimate, a search should bring up a physical address and phone number for the company. If the lender’s name doesn’t turn up anything beyond the online world, opt out of the loan immediately.

Are you short on cash? Don’t get scammed – let us help! Call, click, or stop by Destinations Credit Union today to learn about our personal loans and other ways we can help keep or put your finances back in the black.

Your Turn: Have you been targeted by a loan scam? Share your experience with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bankrate.com/finance/loans/personal-loan-scam-signs-1.aspx/amp/

https://www.google.com/amp/s/peerfinance101.com/warning-signs-personal-loan-scams/amp/
https://www.finder.com/personal-loan-scams

What You Need To Know About Smishing Scams

How do you communicate with your nearest and dearest when you’re on the go and can’tclose-up of mobile phone on logging screen make a phone call? Do you send a VoiceNote? Use WhatsApp? Or, do you send an simple text message?

In a world where apps can almost run our lives for us, the humble SMS has outlived them all – and it’s still going strong. Unfortunately, though, texting has come under attack as one of the most vulnerable mediums for identity theft and more.

Here’s what you need to know about an SMS-based scam called “smishing.”     

How it works

Smishing scams are similar to email phishing scams in which scammers target victims by sending an email that appears to be from their bank or credit union, internet service provider or one of their favorite businesses. Smishing scams use text messages instead of emails, but their goal is the same as phishing scams: to establish contact with the victim and access their personal information.

The scam begins with a supposedly urgent text appearing to be from the victim’s financial institution of choice. Sometimes, it’s from a bank or credit union with whom they have never done business!

The text claims the victim’s checking account is locked and that the victim must take immediate action to restore it. Alternatively, the text may alert the victim about a large, unauthorized purchase that was charged to their account. The scammer warns that, if the charge is not contested immediately, the victim will be responsible for the transaction. There are more variations, but they will always convey a sense of urgency to induce panic and trigger immediate and mindless obedience.

The victim is then instructed to call a specified number and, upon doing so, will be asked to share personal financial information. Once they’ve got their hands on this info, the scammer is free to steal the victim’s identity, empty their accounts or go on a shopping spree on the victim’s dime.

Who are the victims?

Smishing scams primarily target people who use mobile banking apps and sites. Victims who use their phones to manage their accounts don’t question when their financial institution appears to contact them by text message and, unfortunately, these smishing scams are often successful.

It isn’t just online banking users who need to be wary of smishing. Fraudsters have widened their net and have recently started sending messages to any cellphone number they can get their hands on.

If you own a checking account and a cellphone, you are vulnerable to a potential smishing scam.

Recognizing smishing scams

If you know what to look for, you’ll be able to spot a smishing scam at first glance.

The credit union’s credit and debit card fraud detection partner may text you if the network detects suspicious activity on your account.  Destinations Credit Union’s card fraud detection department’s phone number is 1-800-889-5280.  Do not respond to the text, simply call the Fraud detection department and give them the reference number.

Destinations Credit Union will not use a text message to alert you of a lockdown on your account; we prefer to use more personable contact methods to help ensure your privacy and personal security.

Also, the phone number the smishing text instructs you to call is not ours. We service our members from our own premises, and our number is 410-663-2500. If you’re told to contact us at a different line (other than the card fraud number above), it’s not us you’re calling!

You can also spot the smishing scam just by looking at the phone number. The text will often appear to come from a number that is obviously fake. Alternatively, it can appear to have come from one of your contacts who is kindly letting you know about the trouble with your account. In such cases, ask your friend (directly, not in response to the message) if they actually sent it. If they have no idea what you’re talking about, someone is using their number to lure you into a scam.

If you’ve been targeted

If you receive a suspicious-looking text that might be a smishing scam, do not engage the texter! Jot down the scammer’s number and delete the message. Let us know about the smishing attempt and tell all your friends. You can also alert the FTC at ftc.gov so they can help catch those criminals.

If you’ve fallen for such a scam and your accounts have been compromised, alert your credit card companies and be sure to let us know as well. We’ll help you mitigate the damage and regain control of your finances.

Protecting yourself

You can’t insulate your phone against these scams, but there are some proactive steps you can take to protect yourself, your device and your money.  

  1. Always use two-factor authentication. Most credit unions require a two-factor sign-in, but if you have the choice of opting out of this extra step, don’t take it! It’s not worth the added risk.
  2. Strengthen your passwords. Never double your password use across different accounts, websites and apps. Make sure your passwords are strong and unique. Consider using a password manager like Dashlane or 1Password.
  3. Don’t respond. Ignore text messages from unknown numbers, even if they’re not alerting you about a problem with your accounts. A text from an unknown source may be the scammer’s first attempt at establishing contact and determining if you’re a willing target for a future scam.

Make sure you are always on the alert for smishing scams. Don’t let those crooks get their hands on your money!

Your Turn: Have you been targeted by a smishing scam? Tell us all about it in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/columnist/saltzman/2017/07/03/delete-suspicious-text-messages-on-your-smartphone/439647001/

https://www.google.com/amp/amp.timeinc.net/fortune/2017/07/07/smishing-scam
https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/2015/01/23/5-scams-that-target-your-bank-account
https://www.cnbc.com/2017/05/12/this-growing-fraud-will-drain-your-bank-account.html

Jury Duty Scams

Nobody likes being called in for jury duty. But a recently revived scam has painted the group of people sitting in jury boxentire experience in a more sinister hue.

Here’s how it plays out: The scammer calls a victim, claiming to work for the local court. The scammer tells the victim they’ve missed their call to jury duty and that there is a warrant out for the victim’s arrest.

The victim, of course, denies ever having received a summons to jury duty. The scammer then asks the victim for some identifying information to verify if the notification was indeed sent out. The victim, eager to clear up the alleged misunderstanding, willingly shares their Social Security number, date of birth or even credit card information. Obviously, all the scammer wants to do with this information is steal it — and benefit from the victim’s identity.

Once this information changes hands and the caller has “verified” that the victim has received jury duty notification, the scammer may then demand a payment to the tune of $1,000 or more. The scammer stresses that the fine must be paid immediately to help the victim avoid an arrest. This is when the hapless victim starts seeing visions of SWAT teams in full protective gear bursting into their home and dragging them out the door in handcuffs. By now, they’re shaking from fear and will pay any price to buy their freedom.

Unluckily for the victim, the fun is just beginning. Once they’ve agreed to pay the fine, they will be sent on a wild goose chase around town, purchasing reloadable money cards in several different stores as per the scammer’s directive. All this time, the victim is certain the entire police force is already on their tail and they are frantically rushing to do the scammer’s bidding. When the chase is finally over and all the cards have been purchased, the victim is then instructed to send their money to the “courthouse” so they can be free from the threat of arrest.

At this point, the victim may be heaving a sigh of relief, but it’s the crooked scammer who is gleefully rubbing their hands together and laughing maniacally. Not only did they milk this oblivious victim for a cool thousand bucks, they also have the victim’s personal details, making a full identity theft the next scandalous step in this scam.

Jury duty scams like these are popping up all over the U.S. They’ve already been reported in Michigan, Ohio, Texas, Arizona, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington state.

Sadly, this scam often works. The victim tends to get flustered and anxious about their alleged pending arrest, so their fear drives them to drop their guard and mindlessly comply with whatever the caller tells them to do.

Don’t be the next victim! Read on to learn how to spot these scams for what they are.

Red flags

If you’re a vigilant citizen who is always up on the latest scams, you will probably know enough to recognize the one major flaw in this scam: It is executed over the phone. Government workers rarely reach out to people by phone; they prefer to use snail mail. When a courthouse worker does call a private juror, they most definitely won’t ask for private information over the phone! Also, there is no reason for a federal court to request your Social Security number at all. And finally, skipping out on jury duty never leads to an arrest!

While this scam is almost always played out over the phone, there have been some instances of jury duty scams being pulled via email. The script is nearly identical, save for the medium of communication between scammer and victim – the victim is pressured into sharing sensitive information and/or paying a fine, or risk being jailed for skipping out on jury duty. The same red flags apply as above: A government worker won’t contact you through email and they won’t demand that you share sensitive information via unsecured means.

Protect yourself

If one of these goofballs tries pulling the wool over your eyes with this scam, make sure you know what to do.

First, don’t engage with the scammer. Often, the scammers are skilled enough to use a fake Caller ID to fool victims. If it looks like the local courthouse is calling you, don’t pick up the phone. Remember, it’s highly unlikely that a courthouse worker is on the other end of the line.

If you already picked up and the caller starts reading you the riot act about missed jury duty, penalties and your pending arrest, hang up as quickly as you can. They may try to scare you or threaten you, but don’t be afraid. If you refuse to cooperate, they will have no power over you.

Finally, if you’ve gotten hooked and find yourself being asked to share sensitive information, remember the golden rule: NEVER share your identifying details over an unsafe medium.

Stop the scam

Jury duty may not be your idea of a fun way to pass the time, but it is an integral part of our court system and deserves our respect. The scammers in this con are impersonating members of the federal court and have therefore committed a serious crime. If you are targeted by a jury duty scam, notify the Clerk of Court’s office of the U.S. District Court in your area. It’s also a good idea to let the FTC know at ftc.gov.

Don’t let these crooks get away with their crime!

Your Turn: Have you been targeted by a jury duty scam? Share your experience with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://www.google.com/amp/amp.wmar2news.com/2537797668/the-jury-duty-scam-that-nearly-tricked-a-law-professor.html

https://www.google.com/amp/www.buckscountycouriertimes.com/news/20180329
/troubleshooter-beware-jury-duty-scam%3Ftemplate%3Dampart
http://www.uscourts.gov/services-forms/jury-service/juror-scams
https://www.scambusters.org/juryduty.html
https://www.aarp.org/podcasts/the-perfect-scam/info-2018/jury-duty-scam.html