Archive for Scam

Beware of Coronavirus Scams!

Scammers are notorious for capitalizing on fear, and the coronavirus outbreak is no exception.

Woman wearing mask

Showing an appalling lack of the most basic morals, scammers have set up fake websites, bogus funding collections and more in an effort to trick the fearful and unsuspecting out of their money.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has published on its website a warning against email scams connected to the coronavirus. The agency claims it has received reports from around the world about phishing attempts mentioning coronavirus on an almost daily basis.

Closer to home, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning against a surge in coronavirus scams, which are being executed with surprising sophistication, so they may be difficult for even the keenest of eyes to spot.

The best weapons against these scams are awareness and education. When people know about circulating scams and how to identify them, they’re already several steps ahead of the scammers. Here’s all you need to know about coronavirus-related scams.

How the scams play out

There are several scams exploiting the fear and uncertainty surrounding the virus. Here are some of the most prevalent:

The fake funding scam

In this scam, victims receive bogus emails, text messages or social media posts asking them to donate money to a research team that is supposedly on the verge of developing a drug to treat COVID-19. Others claim they are nearing a vaccine for immunizing the population against the virus. There have also been ads circulating on the internet with similar requests. Unfortunately, nearly all of these are fakes, and any money donated to these “funds” will help line the scammers’ pockets.

The bogus health agency

There is so much conflicting information on the coronavirus that it’s really a no-brainer that scammers are exploiting the confusion. Scammers are sending out alerts appearing to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the WHO; however, they’re actually created by the scammers. These emails sport the logo of the agencies that allegedly sent them, and the URL is similar to those of the agencies as well. Some scammers will even invent their own “health agency,” such as “The Health Department,” taking care to evoke authenticity with bogus contact information and logos.

Victims who don’t know better will believe these missives are sent by legitimate agencies. While some of these emails and posts may actually provide useful information, they often also spread misinformation to promote fear-mongering, such as nonexistent local diagnoses of the virus. Even worse, they infect the victims’ computers with malware which is then used to scrape personal information off the infected devices.

The phony purchase order

Scammers are hacking the computer systems at medical treatment centers and obtaining information about outstanding orders for face masks and other supplies. The scammers then send the buyer a phony purchase order listing the requested supplies and asking for payment. The employee at the treatment center wires payment directly into the scammer’s account. Unfortunately, they’ll have to pay the bill again when contacted by the legitimate supplier.

Preventing scams

Basic preventative measures can keep scammers from making you their next target.

As always, it’s important to keep the anti-malware and antivirus software on your computer up to date, and to strengthen the security settings on all of your devices.

Practice responsible browsing when online. Never download an attachment from an unknown source or click on links embedded in an email or social media post from an unknown individual. Don’t share sensitive information online, either. If you’re unsure about a website’s authenticity, check the URL and look for the lock icon and the “s” after the “http” indicating the site is secure.

Finally, it’s a good idea to stay updated on the latest news about the coronavirus to avoid falling prey to misinformation. Check the actual CDC and WHO websites for the latest updates. You can donate funds toward research on these sites as well.

Spotting the scams

Scammers give themselves away when they ask for payment via specific means, including a wire transfer or prepaid gift card. Scams are also easily spotted by claims of urgency, such as “Act now!” Another giveaway is poor writing skills, including grammatical errors, awkward syntax and misspelled words. In the coronavirus scams, “Breaking information” alerts appearing to be from health agencies are another sign of a scam.

You can keep yourself safe from the coronavirus by practicing good hygiene habits and avoid coronavirus scams by practicing healthy internet usage. Keep yourself in the know about the latest developments.

Resources:

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2020/02/coronavirus-scammers-follow-headlines
https://www.wsj.com/amp/articles/hackers-target-companies-with-fake-coronavirus-warnings-11583267812?tesla=y
https://blog.malwarebytes.com/social-engineering/2020/02/battling-online-coronavirus-scams-with-facts/

CREDIT CARD FRAUD IN 5S

Financial Self Defense against Credit Card Fraud

An image of someone typing in credit card information into the computerWhodunnit? When we’re talking about credit card fraud, everyone’s pointing fingers at everyone else. Consumers tend to blame the credit card issuer, but the vulnerability usually lies with the point-of-sale terminal.

Tampering with a credit card reader takes just a few minutes and can be done with an inexpensive device that’s available on Amazon. There are lots of other ways your information can be skimmed, too. However, none of that points to a security deficiency with your credit union or credit card company.

Thankfully, there are steps you can take to prevent and recognize credit card fraud before it happens. Read on for all you need to know about credit card fraud.  

5 ways your card can be frauded 

  1. It’s physically lifted from your wallet.
  2. A restaurant or bar server skims it while it’s in their possession.
  3. A terminal you use is compromised.
  4. An online breach puts your information on the black market.
  5. Your computer has been hacked. 

5 signs a terminal’s been compromised 

  1.    The security seal has been voided. When the pump is safe to use, the label has a red, blue or black background. A breached seal shows the words “Void Open” in white.
  2.    The card reader is too big for the machine.
  3.    The pin pad looks newer than the rest of the machine.
  4.    The pin pad looks raised.
  5.    The credit card reader is not secured in place. It should fit tightly and not be easily rattled. 

5 times you’re at high risk for credit card fraud 

  1. You lost your card.
  2. You’ve patronized a business in an area that’s unfamiliar to you.
  3. A company you use has been breached.
  4. You shared your information online with an unverifiable contact.
  5. You downloaded something from an unrecognizable source. 

5 ways to protect yourself against credit card fraud 

  1. Check all card readers for signs of tampering before paying.
  2. Never share your credit card information online unless you’re absolutely sure the website is authentic and the company is trustworthy.
  3. Check your monthly credit card statements for suspicious activity and review your credit reports on a frequent basis.
  4. Use cash when patronizing a business in an unfamiliar area.
  5. Don’t download attachments from unknown sources. 

5 steps to take if your credit card’s been frauded 

  1. Lock the compromised account.
  2. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports.
  3. Consider a credit freeze.
  4. Alert the FTC.
  5. Open new accounts. 

At Section 705 Federal Credit Union, we’ve always got your back! Call, click, or stop by today to ask about steps you can take to protect your information from getting hacked. 

SOURCES:

https://www.thebalance.com/how-credit-card-skimming-works-960773

https://www.thebalance.com/more-at-risk-of-credit-card-fraud-960780

https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/credit-card-fraud-works-stay-safe/

http://gizmodo.com/home-depot-was-hit-by-the-same-hack-as-target-1631865043

Dealer Auto Finance Scams

So, you’re buying a car? Don’t fall for these dealer auto finance scams.

Buying a car? Hold out until the end of the month! Dealers must meet quotas and may lower the prices.You’ve made it past the tedious comparison shopping, you’ve finished the detail-oriented research and you’ve even endured the haggling with the salesperson. Your tongue probably tastes like that terrible coffee they use in every car dealership in America, the kids are probably getting cranky and it’s pretty likely you’re thinking about everything else you could have done with your weekend. But, it’s almost over.

“I just gotta go in to see the finance manager, sign some papers, and we’re on our way home.” That feeling of relief washes over you, you let your guard down, and you don’t even realize until too late that you’re suddenly in a much higher monthly loan payment or longer term than you’d planned for. What, in the name of Lee Iacocca, just happened?

The stereotype of car dealerships usually involves a salesman with a pencil moustache and a polyester jacket who lies through his nicotine-yellowed teeth about undercoating or telling you how the used car you were looking at has only ever been driven to church on Sundays. That guy is easy to spot. If the salesperson lies to you, you have some legal protections. If you Google before you go, you’ll even know most of the tricks the salesperson might roll out. What you’re less protected against are the tricks that happen in the finance office. Below, we’ll talk about what to look for and how to avoid dealer finance scams so you don’t spend too much on your next car.

1.) Keep your wits about you. Never let your guard down at the dealership. Every person there wants to make money off of you and they’re very competitive. Even if he or she says that they don’t want or receive commission on your particular sale (“I just need to hit my quota” or “One more sale puts me at my bonus, I’ll take a loss on this one”), that person is almost certainly a very competitive person who’s going to be comparing notes with his or her coworkers this afternoon.

The finance office is designed to put you at ease, so you’ll lower your guard. The finance office is probably in a different part of the building, with different lighting and ambience. The offices may be appreciably nicer, with actual walls instead of cubicles, some of which may have art hanging on them. Clearly, the person you’re talking to is important, having been in such a nice office for so long.

And that’s what should scare you. The people in the finance office are often not financial experts by trade; after all they don’t need to do your taxes or invest your money. They only have to understand one transaction. Therefore, many dealerships will send their best salespeople to finance classes so they can have a smooth closer at the end of each transaction. Don’t let the gray hair fool you; the person in front of you is just as competitive and sharp as the one on the sales floor. After all, to get this office, the finance officer had to be really fantastic at making sales.

2.) Know your credit score. There are a lot of reasons to know your credit score before you make a large purchase, including the fact that you should check your credit report for irregularities fairly often, whether or not you’re buying anything. When you buy a car, it’s especially important. Finance managers like to use customer ignorance against them, and if you don’t know your up-to-date credit history, then they’ll smell blood in the water.

While the most obvious example is to try to charge you more than you need to pay, you might not expect that another classic is to offer you a loan at a far lower rate than you deserve. The idea is to offer you a rate so low you can’t say no, then wait a few weeks before telling you that the financing unexpectedly fell through. Don’t worry, he or she will tell you, you can keep the car. There’s a clause in your contract that says “subject to financing,” so he or she found a different lender. The good news turns sour, however, because your new rate is through the roof and you’ve already signed the contract and taken delivery of the vehicle.

Don’t take a loan at a rate that’s too good to be true. If you’re tempted by an offer in the finance office, ask how long it’ll be valid. Then, take it home and show it to your lawyer, so someone you trust can tell you if it’s on the up-and-up. If you don’t want to pay your attorney’s rate, you can also bring it to us. We’ll take a look, let you know about any potential pitfalls, and we might even be able to beat that rate or provide a better term, saving you even more money. Remember, if they say that the deal expires today (particularly on the weekend) or that you can’t take your contract with you, it’s almost certainly because they don’t want you to take the time to think about what you’re doing.

It’s never a good idea to trust someone who doesn’t want you to think.

3.) Walk in with an offer. Then, walk out with an offer. The best way to get a fantastic rate on a loan for a new or used car is to finance through Section 705 Federal Credit Union. We aren’t looking to make a profit, we’re looking to support our members. We’re also trustworthy – it’s why you’re here in the first place, after all – so you know our great rates aren’t scams. So, come see us first and you can walk into the dealership with your loan financing already approved. You’ll know how much you can spend, taking the pain out of negotiating. You’ll also know what interest rate you’ll get and have a pretty good assurance that your monthly payment will be manageable. Plus, you’ll only need to run your credit score once, so you don’t have to worry about losing points from looking it up too often.

Don’t let the salesperson know that you’ve already gotten financing, though. The dealership knows how much it wants to make on the transaction, and it doesn’t care if that money comes out of the trade-in, the sale, or the financing. If you know how much your trade-in is worth and you have your financing taken care of, then the only place they can make money is on the sales price. If they know that, they’ll be less flexible on the sales price. Let them think that if they give in a little on the sales price, they’ll be able to make it up in financing.

But you also need to be able to walk away. Just like any other part of the sale, whomever can walk away controls the deal. If the terms of the loan the dealer offers you sound great, thank them and take them with you and let’s compare notes. We’re here for you and we promise to burn the midnight oil figuring out what we can do to make the best deal you can get.
 
This might all seem a little excessive. Maybe you’re good at negotiating, you’ve looked up all the dealer scams and dirty tricks, and you can get the loan really close to what you want. You’re only off by $50 or so, and if you just sign the papers you can take the car home tonight and be done with the whole process. 

Remember, $50 may not sound like much, but over a 60-month loan, that’s $3,000 plus interest. Who would you rather see pocket that $3,000: the dealership or your family? To put it another way: if your child racked up $50 in extra data charges on your phone bill, how would you feel? What if he or she did it every month for five years? Let’s beat the finance office together.

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