A member recently received a phone call stating the caller was from Contra Costa FCU and offering to lower their interest rate. The caller asked for our member’s account number and social security number. Please be aware that we are not using the name Contra Costa FCU. We are now 1st Northern California Credit Union (1st Nor Cal). We would also never call and ask for your personal information. There is a possibility that this is a new scam that is going around. Please be aware of incoming phone calls and don’t give out your personal information.
Consumers should be on the lookout for fake check scams, the National Credit Union Administration, the federal agency that insures 1st Nor Cal members’ deposits, warned after receiving numerous inquiries from consumers.
There are many versions of a fake check scam. However, the result is the same. Scammers lure consumers into depositing a cashier’s check, money order, or other checking instrument from someone that they don’t know and wiring or sending money to the scammers. A check may take considerably longer to clear the financial institution that issued it before the funds can be collected. It could take days or even weeks to discover that the deposited check was fraudulent.
When the check is discovered to be fraudulent, the damage may already have been done. Once a victim wires or sends funds from such a check, he or she may be responsible for reimbursing the financial institution for that amount. Typically, the financial institution will not cover the financial loss and expects the victim to pay the difference.
The Federal Trade Commission also recently issued a fake check scam alert. These checks can be hard to recognize. They may be printed with the names, addresses, and logos of legitimate financial institutions. Consumers are reminded to be on the alert and to not be pressured into wiring funds or sending money after depositing a check.
If you think you or someone you know was the victim of a fake check scam, consider taking the following steps:
- Contact your local law enforcement agency to report the scam.
- Contact your state’s attorney general. Contact information for each state’s attorney general can be found on the National Association of Attorneys General website.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Your complaint will be filed into a secure online database, which is used by many local, state, federal, and international law enforcement agencies. Complaints from consumers help detect patterns of fraud and abuse.
- If you or the victim is an older adult or a person with a disability, contact your local adult protective services agency. You can find local support resources using the online Eldercare Locator or by calling 1-800-677-1116.
NCUA operates an online Fraud Prevention Center that offers information about avoiding frauds and scams on its MyCreditUnion.gov website. NCUA also released a two-part video series for consumers on fraud prevention techniques.
Source: National Credit Union Administration
Regarding your 1st Nor Cal Visa account:
In May 2017, we will transition our Visa accounts to our core system here at the Credit Union. You will be able to see your Visa account and transactions on our Online Banking and Mobile App. You will also be able to make payments directly which will update your balance immediately.
Other important issues:
eStatements will be disabled beginning May 19, 2017. Users should download and save copies of any previous statements before this date. Cardholders will receive paper statements to their mailing address on file for the month of April. If your account was set up for automatic payments, you will need to reset that function.
If you have any questions or issues after the May 19th conversion, please call us at (925) 335-3850.
You may have received this letter in the mail that appears to have been sent by us. 1st Nor Cal did not send this letter. The letter was sent by an insurance company soliciting your business. They received the home loan amount through county records since all real estate transactions are recorded and maintained with your local county. Please disregard and shred this notice. If you have any questions regarding your mortgage loan, please contact our mortgage department at (925) 335-3870.
Members are being cautioned to watch for numerous debit card-related scams and tricks in 2017. Fraudsters see chip cards flooding the market and are finding new ways to separate members from their money.
- Robocalls telling victims their debit cards have been locked, which leads nervous cardholders to follow instructions in the calls, one of which is to key in their card numbers, expiration dates and PINs.
- Card-cracking artists using social media to lure victims. Millennials are the targets of these scams, which ask debit cardholders to share their cards and PINs as a way of earning extra cash. Scammers deposit fake checks into the associated accounts, make immediate withdrawals and then share some of the cash with the victims. When victims’ financial institutions eventually find fraudulent checks, the debit cardholders are left holding the bag.
- Seniors being tricked into handing over cards in their homes. Con artists posing as banks or credit union fraud investigators have begun to talk their way into the homes of people as old as 96. Once inside, they convince victims to swap cards, saying their original card was compromised.
Shoppers looking for a good deal this holiday season should also be aware of increasingly aggressive and creative scams designed by criminals to steal money and personal information. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), shoppers should be extra vigilant of the following schemes and red flags.
Online Shopping Scams: If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. Steer clear of unfamiliar sites offering unrealistic discounts on brand name merchandise or gift cards as an incentive to purchase a product, as you may end up paying for an item, giving away personal information, and receive nothing in return except a compromised identity. In addition, do not open any unsolicited e-mails or click on the links provided. Before shopping online, secure all bank and credit accounts with strong and different passwords. The same should be done for airline and rewards accounts, because the emergence of these offerings has led to an increase in the demand for and resale value of stolen information.
Social Media Scams: Beware of posts on social media sites that appear to offer vouchers or gift cards, even if it appears the offer was shared by an online friend. Some may pose as holiday promotions or contests that lead to participation in an online survey designed to steal personal information. In addition, do not post photos of event tickets on social media sites as fraudsters can use the barcode to recreate tickets for resale.
Smartphone App Scams: Some apps, often disguised as games and offered for free, may be designed to steal personal information from your device. Before downloading an app from an unknown source, look for third-party reviews and be mindful that alternative app marketplaces can potentially include stolen content and compromised versions of otherwise trustworthy applications.
Work-From-Home Scams: Beware of postings offering work that can be done from the comfort of home, as these opportunities may have unscrupulous motivations behind them. Take caution when money is required up front for instructions or products, or when a job post claims “no experience necessary.” Carefully research individuals or companies before providing them with personal information and never provide personal information when first interacting with a potential employer.
Additional steps to avoid becoming a victim of fraud:
- Check bank and credit card statements routinely, including immediately after making an online purchase and weeks following the holiday season.
- Only purchase merchandise from a reputable source.
- Don’t trust a website to be secure just because it claims to be.
- Do not respond to spam e-mails or click on links contained within them.
- Avoid filling out forms contained in e-mails that ask for personal information.
- Be cautious of all e-mail attachments and scan them for viruses before opening.
- Verify requests for personal information from businesses or financial institutions by contacting them using the main contact information on their official website.
- Be cautious when dealing with individuals outside of your own country.
How to report fraud: Consumers who suspect they’ve been victimized should immediately contact their financial institution and then law enforcement. They are also encouraged to file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center regardless of dollar amount lost, and provide all relevant information regarding the complaint.
Identity theft tax refund fraud cost the IRS almost $6 billion in 2013. In order to protect taxpayers, the IRS has instituted a series of security controls. For those who file their tax returns electronically, the tax software providers will strengthen validation requirements by toughening password standards. Passwords will require a minimum of eight characters with uppercase, lowercase, alphabetic, numerical, and special characters. Security questions will be added, and a new timed lockout feature will limit unsuccessful log-in attempts. State returns may require additional information, such as a driver license number.
Taxpayers will also experience slower time frames in receiving the refunds so that the IRS and state taxing agencies can ensure only one tax return per taxpayer was filed. The IRS also recommends taxpayers institute the following controls:
- Use security software with firewall and anti-virus protection.
- Recognize and avoid phishing e-mails, threatening calls, and texts from thieves posing as legitimate organizations. Do not click links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious e-mails.
- Protect your personal data. Don’t carry your social security card, and secure your tax records.
A member notified us that they received a fraudulent phone call regarding our new EMV chip credit cards. The phone call sounded like a recorded message and stated that the member’s debit card would be deactivated and they would have to key in their pin code to keep it active. They recognized that the phone call was a fraud and hung up. Please be aware of identity theft and do not give out any personal information, including your pin code, to incoming phone calls. Member security is a high priority at 1st Northern California Credit Union, and we ask that you notify us if you receive a similar phone call or notice any type of fraudulent activity involving your account(s) with 1st Nor Cal Credit Union.
Members of a local credit union were recently defrauded by a scammer involving Facebook. The suspect used the popular social media site to trick five credit union members into providing personal account information that was then used to defraud those members of almost $60,000.
The suspect allegedly became friends with the members through Facebook and subsequently offered them a quick way to make money by accepting checks into the affected members’ accounts who gave the suspect their personal login information, passwords, and answers to authenticating challenge questions.
The suspect deposited checks into the members’ accounts through mobile deposit over several days and then directed the members to withdraw the money minus a 10% profit and deposit the funds into an account at another financial institution. The checks were later found to be fraudulent which resulted in losses in the members’ accounts.
We recommend never disclosing personal account information on social media or to strangers.