Fraud Prevention Center
We've compiled links and information on some of the scams that thieves use to steal your identity and trick you out of your money. We encourage you to visit the links to stay up-to-date and minimize your risks. They contain a wealth of information to help you become aware of the numerous ways that "scammers" can turn you into a victim. Remember, always be very careful with your personal information.
Our Fraud Prevention Center contains information on the following.
- Welcome Federal Credit Union - Protecting You
- Link to our Identity Theft Center
- Important Fraud Prevention Resource Links
- Advance-Fee Loans
- Counterfeit Checks
- Credit Card Fraud
- Lottery Scams
- Nigerian Scams
- Scam Alerts Information
- Vishing/Caller ID Spoofing
Welcome Federal Credit Union - Protecting You
Substantial measures are in place at Welcome Federal Credit Union (WFCU) to protect your identity and your accounts against theft and fraud. For example, stringent Credit Union Privacy Policies protect your personal information. Multi-factor authentication password protection for online transactions helps assure online security. When using our online services, you develop a password that only you know. Encryption of online transactions converts your information into secure code, protecting you against hackers.
Please remember, Welcome Federal Credit Union will not ask for your personal identification or financial information via email. If you receive any such email request, DO NOT click on any link or enter any information and notify us immediately at 1-919-474-3256 or call us toll-free at 1-888-932-8148.
Any email that purports to be from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and asks for account information should be considered a fraudulent attempt to obtain personal account data for an illegal purpose.
Visit Our Identity Theft Center for important ID theft resource links and information on protecting your identity, avoiding ID theft, how to know if you've become a victim, and what to do if you do become a victim.
Important Fraud Prevention Resource Links
When you leave Welcome Federal Credit Union's (WFCU) website and enter a website hosted by another party, the products and services accessed through the site are not provided or guaranteed by Welcome Federal Credit Union. WFCU does not represent either the third-party website or you, if you enter into an agreement or transaction. The links are provided for the convenience of informational purposes only.
Please be advised that you will no longer be subject to, or under the protection of, the privacy and security policies of our website. We encourage you to read and evaluate the privacy and security policies of the site which you are entering, which may be different than ours.
- North Carolina Department of Justice, Protect Yourself From Fraud
- Looks Too Good To Be True
- Specific Scam Warnings
- Telemarketing Fraud, Internet Fraud, Scams, Counterfeit Drugs, Fraud News
- Minimize Your Risk
- OnGuardOnline.gov provides practical tips from the federal government and the technology industry to help you be on guard against Internet fraud, secure your computer, and protect your personal information.
- Information About Fake Check Scams
- Fraud Recognition & Prevention
- National Check Fraud Center - A source for assistance, information, alert reports regarding counterfeit checks, forgery, check fraud, and white collar crime.
- NCUA Fraud Prevention Center - Frauds and scams, alerts and resources.
NO, It's not true . . . THINK!
- You have not won the lottery in Spain, the Netherlands, Canada or anywhere else. You didn't buy a ticket, did you?
- A poor widow or bank manager does not need your help to move money from a dead person's account to another place.
- The IRS is not electronically auditing you.
- The jury duty clerk never calls for your Social Security number.
- Banks and credit card companies do not email you to verify your information.
It is of prime importance to know the scams that thieves use to trick you into giving personal information. Once they have your information, they steal your identity. You need increased awareness of the situations that can lead to identity theft.
Phishing occurs when someone impersonates your financial institution, Internet service provider, credit card company, or some other entity and sends a bogus email requesting your personal financial information (such as account number, credit card number, Social Security number, passwords, etc.). The email will probably warn you of a serious problem that requires your immediate attention. It may use phrases like "Immediate attention required," or "Please contact us immediately about your account," or "You must update your account information immediately to maintain your account with us."
Phishing emails look very official and often contain graphics and/or logos that are lifted from a legitimate company's web site. Because these emails look official, many people believe that they must respond to the request for information. The email may include a link to what appears to be a legitimate web site. In reality, you're redirected to a phony web site that may look exactly like the web site of your financial institution, credit card company, etc. You're asked to provide personal information, which is then used by the thieves to gain access to your existing accounts and credit cards so they can loot your checking account or run up bills on your credit cards.
Here are some tips to help you avoid falling victim to phishing scams:
- Welcome Federal Credit Union, other financial institutions, or any other legitimate company will not send you an email asking for your personal information. If you believe the email (or phone call) may be legitimate, contact the business yourself by calling the company back using a phone number from a statement or from the telephone book (not a phone number the person who is calling gives you). You may check an organization's website by typing its URL in the address line, rather than cutting and pasting it.
- A financial institution will not ask you via email to verify your ATM PIN or Social Security number. WFCU will never 'call you' and ask for this information. We do have procedures in place to verify your identity when 'you call us'. This is for your protection.
- Do not click on any links and do not respond to any email that asks for your personal information. Delete suspicious emails.
- Do not disclose any personal information (such as credit card numbers, Social Security number, birth date, passwords, account numbers, etc) to an unsolicited source, whether by email, phone, online or mail.
- Install a firewall as your first line of defense. This is the primary block between you and other omputers on the Internet. Also install, run, and update antivirus and antispyware programs.
- Ignore online pop-up windows asking for personal information, no matter how official they may look.
- Review all your financial statements regularly for accuracy.
Unlike phishing, which uses email spam to deliver fake messages, pharming operates through fake web sites. Pharming uses computer software, such as crimeware, malware, or spyware, to collect personal information from your computer and deliver it back to the fraudsters. When you attempt to log onto a legitimate web site, you are automatically redirected to a fraudulent authentic-looking, but bogus site. Once you're transferred to the fake site and log into your account, the criminals collect passwords, credit card numbers, and other private information for the purpose of committing identity theft. Since little or no participation on your part is necessary, and the redirect happens behind the scenes, pharming is extremely difficult to detect.
Online users are urged to watch for uncommon log-in processes that don't look the same as the legitimate site. Some fraudulent sites will ask users for information such as a Social Security number that are not normally required.
Vishing/Caller ID Spoofing
Vishing mimics phishing by trying to trap you into divulging your account numbers. But instead of being phished in an email message, you may receive a telephone call from an automated random dialer, and the voice on the other end of the line may tell you that your credit card has been used illegally. You're then asked to dial a fake 1-800 number with another voice that asks you to confirm your account details and credit card number.
All this is possible because of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), the technology that makes inexpensive and anonymous Internet calling possible. While there are legitimate reasons to disguise a phone number on caller ID, consumers now have a more difficult time determining a fraudulent call from a valid contact.
It can be hard to determine when you are the target of a vishing scam and when your credit card provider is making a genuine attempt to contact you because of a problem with your account. The safe practice is to hang up, even if the person claims to be from your credit card provider. Then, call the customer service number on the back of your card to verify that the call was legitimate. If it was, customer service will know. The most important thing to remember, however, is to never give any personal or financial information over the phone if you didn't initiate contact.
Advance-fee loans will guarantee you a loan, regardless of your credit history. The catch is that you must pay a fee upfront. However, even after paying the fee, you'll never receive the loan.
These loans are advertised in newspapers and magazines, through the mail, on the Internet or by email, on TV and radio stations, and often ask you to call a 900 number (which will also cost you money).
Legitimate lenders rarely guarantee credit before evaluating a consumer's creditworthiness. Some may require consumers to pay application, appraisal or credit report fees, but these fees are never required before the lender is identified or before you get the loan. Plus, any fees would be paid to the lender, not a broker. Your best defense is to do business with an institution you know and trust, such as WFCU.
With the advancement of computer technology, it has become easier for criminals to create counterfeit checks. This is often done with a simple desktop publishing software or a color copier. Some counterfeiters are better than others, and sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between a legitimate and counterfeit check. Here are some "red flags" to look for to identify a counterfeit check:
- The check lacks perforations
- The check number is missing, or if more than one check is present, the check number does not change
- The font type varies on different areas of the check
- Additions to the check (i.e. phone numbers) may be hand written
- The maker's address is missing
- The drawee's bank address is missing
- The number coding on the bottom of the check is shiny. Genuine magnetic ink appears dull and non-glossy
- The check number on the bottom of the check does not match the check number elsewhere on the check
- The name of the payee appears to have been printed by a typewriter
- The word VOID appears across the check
Counterfeit checks are frequently used to pay for purchases made on the Internet. In this type of scam, the purchaser tells the seller that they will send a Cashiers Check for the purchase price, including shipping costs. Frequently, the purchaser will also say that since the shipping costs aren't known at that time, they will send more than enough money to cover this cost. The purchaser asks the seller to wire the excess funds back once they receive the check and ship the goods.
Unfortunately, when the seller realizes that the Cashier's Check is fraudulent, they will not only be out their merchandise and the shipping charge, but also the money that they wired back to the seller prior to finding out the check is bad.
It is important to keep in mind that under the law, you are responsible for the checks and money orders you deposit because you are in the best position to determine how risky the transaction is. When a check or money order bounces, you owe your financial institution the money you withdrew.
Credit Card Fraud
While theft of a purse or wallet is a big red flag for credit card fraud, it is important to note that thieves do not need possession of your card in order to use it. They can simply use your card number to make purchases over the phone or online. They can get this information in a variety of ways: looking through trash to find receipts or statements with your credit card number on it (also known as dumpster diving), luring you to give them your credit card information through the mail, over the phone or online, or capturing the information after you've used the card, either at the store or through the credit card processor.
Congratulations! You've won a major prize or a large amount of money. All you have to do to collect is pay the taxes and/or fees on your winnings. Sound too good to be true? It is!
You're contacted about the fact that you may have won or have already won a particular prize via email, the U.S. Mail, or over the phone. But, there's a catch . . . in order for you to receive your winnings, you have to pay some taxes or fees up front. Or, they claim they'll help you take care of this technicality by sending you a cashier's check for the amount of the taxes/fees, and all you have to do is cash it and return the money either by the issue of another cashier's check or wire transfer.
While the checks may look legitimate, they prove to be counterfeit. The issuing bank, routing number and/or account number aren't valid. The victims end up having to repay their financial institution the thousands of dollars they withdrew against the bad check. Just because you can withdraw the money from the financial institution does not mean the check is good, even if it is a cashier's check.
There is no reason for someone who is giving you money to ask you to wire money back - that is a clear sign of a scam. Also, if it's a real sweepstakes or lottery, you'll pay taxes directly to the IRS.
Though these types of scams originated in Nigeria, variations have been traced to other countries throughout the world.
- A letter or email arrives from someone with millions of dollars to hide. The letter may claim to be from a prince or government official in a foreign country, who needs to hide the money because his/her country is in turmoil. The letter asks for your trust and offers you a portion of the money for your trouble. Once you agree to "help," he/she will ask for money. The money may be deposited in escrow or taken from your account. You'll be told that the funds are to cover the expense of transferring the money, or are merely a "good faith" deposit. If you take the bait, they will continue to ask for more money to overcome various obstacles.
- Another variation: Someone responds to your ad for a car, big-ticket item, rentable room, etc., and offers to pay with a cashier's check. Later, the respondent notifies you that the check will exceed the item's price, and requests that you return the difference - either via wire transfer or another cashier's check - after you've deposited the check. It isn't until later that you learn the check has bounced, and now you're liable for the entire amount.
Even if no one is peering over your shoulder, there are several ways thieves may try to take your money - and identity - while you're at the ATM.
Skimming is a method where criminals set up a device that captures the ATM and/or debit card magnetic stripe and keypad information from ATMs and gas pumps. Examples that may alert you that there's a problem are below.
- Your card may seem jammed when you insert it into the ATM, and someone may walk up and suggest that you re-enter your PIN. When that doesn't work, you may give up and leave, but the thief can retrieve your card along with the device he or she placed on the machine. The thief can then use your card to withdraw money. He/she may have watched you enter your PIN, watched you via a camera from a distance, or attached a camera to the ATM.
- With skimming, your transaction may proceed uninterrupted, but a skimmer attached to the card reader can capture the information on your card. A fake PIN pad or covering of the existing pad allows the thief to steal your PIN. While you'll get your card back, the thief can use the information from your card to replicate a fraudulent card and withdraw cash. If it's a debit card, he or she can make signature-based purchases at most retail locations.
- In another situation, the thief may be able to intercept your cash at the end of the transaction by adding a false front on the cash dispenser, which traps the bills inside. It may seem that the machine is malfunctioning, but once you leave, the thief will claim your cash.
The best way to protect yourself is to be alert. If an ATM looks different, or as if it has been tampered with, do not use it. If you see anyone standing near the ATM or watching the machine from a distance, leave and find another machine.
We've highlighted some of the more common types of fraud and scams. For more details on these and other scams, follow the 'Important Fraud Resource Links' listed above.