Criminals are constantly coming up with new ways to trick people into giving them financial information or account access, personal information and money.
Colorado Credit Union wants to help educate you on the types of fraud currently active in our community and provide tips to help you avoid falling victim to fraud. We have put together a library of some of the most common types of fraud along with resources you can use for additional information. This list does not cover all types of fraud and should not be considered legal advice.
If you believe one of your Colorado Credit Union accounts has fraudulent activity, please contact us at 303.978.2274.
Debit and credit card fraud occurs when someone uses your card without your permission. Even if a criminal doesn't have your physical card in hand, they can still make unauthorized transactions using your card number, PIN and security code. Someone could even use your card information to try to gain access to your other accounts. Acting quickly limits your liability for charges you didn’t authorize. Report the loss or theft of a card immediately.
If you have a lost or stolen debit/credit card:
- Report the loss or theft of your card to the card issuer as quickly as possible.
- Follow up with a letter or email. Include your account number, the date and time when you noticed your card was missing, and when you first reported the loss.
- Check your card statement carefully for transactions you didn’t make. Report these transactions to the card issuer as quickly as possible. Be sure to send the letter to the address provided for billing errors.
- Check if your homeowner's or renter’s insurance policy covers your liability for card thefts. If not, some insurance companies will allow you to change your policy to include this protection.
Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information: www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0213-lost-or-stolen-credit-atm-and-debit-cards
There are several types of driver’s license fraud you should be aware of including:
- You suspect that a driver license, identification card, motor vehicle title or registration was obtained fraudulently.
- You suspect that someone has a fake, counterfeit or altered driver license or identification card.
- You suspect that someone failed to give the required or correct information in an application, or commission of any fraud in making such application for a driver license, identification card, motor vehicle title or registration.
The State of Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles: https://dmv.colorado.gov/report-fraud-0
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America. A dishonest person who has your Social Security number can use it to get other personal information about you. Identity thieves can use your number and your good credit to apply for more credit in your name. Then, they use the credit cards and don’t pay the bills, it damages your credit.
You may not find out that someone is using your number until you’re turned down for credit, or you begin to get calls from unknown creditors demanding payment for items you never bought. Someone illegally using your Social Security number and assuming your identity can cause a lot of problems.
Please note: SSA employees will never threaten you for information or promise benefits in exchange for information. In those cases, the call is fraudulent. Just hang up. If you suspect you've been contacted by an SSA scammer call the Social Security Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271.
Additional resources:Social Security Administration: www.ssa.gov
Mail Fraud: Any fraud that uses the U.S. Mail®—whether it originates in the mail, by phone, or online—is mail fraud. This includes sweepstakes, lotteries, online auctions, and chain letters.
Every year, mail fraud schemes are directed at consumers of all ages. While anyone under the right circumstances can fall for a phony offer or promotion, some groups, like retirees, are more impacted than others when they unknowingly participate in scams.
United States Postal Inspection Service: www.uspis.gov/tips-prevention/mail-fraud
Each year, Americans trust the U.S. Postal Service® with billions of letters and packages, and the vast majority of those arrive safely at their intended destinations. But there are always thieves who will target the mail. Postal Inspectors investigate these crimes and arrest thousands of mail and package thieves each year. Still, there are extra steps you can take to ensure your mail arrives safely at its destination.
Use the letter slots inside your Post Office for your mail, or hand it to a letter carrier. Pick up your mail promptly after delivery. Don't leave it in your mailbox overnight. If you're expecting checks, credit cards, or other negotiable items, ask a trusted friend or neighbor to pick up your mail.
Report suspected mail losses to Postal Inspectors by calling 877-876-2455 or at www.uspis.gov
Additional resources:United States Postal Inspection Service: www.uspis.gov/tips-prevention/mail-theft
Millions of people turn to online dating apps or social networking sites to meet someone. But instead of finding romance, many find a scammer trying to trick them into sending money.
Romance scams reached a record $304 million in losses reported to the FTC in 2020. That’s up about 50% from 2019.
Romance scammers create fake profiles on dating sites and apps, or contact their targets through popular social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, or Google Hangouts. The scammers strike up a relationship with their targets to build their trust, sometimes talking or chatting several times a day. Then, they make up a story and ask for money.
The Lies Romance Scammers Tell
They’ll often say they’re living or traveling outside of the United States. We’ve heard about scammers who say they are:
- working on an oil rig
- in the military
- a doctor with an international organization
We’ve heard about romance scammers asking their targets for money to:
- pay for a plane ticket or other travel expenses
- pay for surgery or other medical expenses
- pay customs fees to retrieve something
- pay off gambling debts
- pay for a visa or other official travel documents
Scammers ask people to pay:
- by wiring money
- with reload cards like MoneyPak or gift cards from vendors like Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, or Steam
How to Avoid Losing Money to a Romance Scammer
Here’s the bottom line: Never send money or gifts to a sweetheart you haven’t met in person.
If you suspect a romance scam:
- Stop communicating with the person immediately.
- Talk to someone you trust, and pay attention if your friends or family say they’re concerned about your new love interest.
- Do a search for the type of job the person has to see if other people have heard similar stories. For example, you could do a search for “oil rig scammer” or “US Army scammer.”
- Do a reverse image search of the person’ profile picture to see if it’s associated with another name or with details that don’t match up – those are signs of a scam.
How to Report a Romance Scam
If you paid a romance scammer with a gift card, contact the company that issued the card right away. Tell them you paid a scammer with the gift card and ask if they can refund your money.
If you think it’s a scam, report it to the FTC at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/?pid=A
Notify the website or app where you met the scammer, too.
Additional resource:Federal Trade Commission: www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/what-you-need-know-about-romance-scams
How to Recognize and Report Spam Text Messages
If you have a cell phone, you probably use it dozens of times a day to text people you know. But have you ever gotten a text message from an unknown sender? It could be a scammer trying to steal your personal information. Find out what you can do about unwanted text messages and how to report them.
Scammers send fake text messages to trick you into giving them your personal information – things like your password, account number, or Social Security number. If they get that information, they could gain access to your email, bank, or other accounts. Or they could sell your information to other scammers.
The scammers use a variety of ever-changing stories to try to rope you in. They may promise free prizes, gift cards or coupons offer you a low or no interest credit card promise to help you pay off your student loans.
Scammers also send fake messages that say they have some information about your account or a transaction. The scammers may say they’ve noticed some suspicious activity on your account, claim there’s a problem with your payment information, send you a fake invoice and tell you to contact them, send you a fake package delivery notification or other methods to attempt to trick you.
The messages might ask you to give some personal information — like how much money you make, how much you owe, or your bank account, credit card, or Social Security number — to claim your gift or pursue the offer. Or they may tell you to click on a link to learn more about the issue. Some links may take you to a spoofed website that looks real but isn’t. If you log in, the scammers can then steal your user-name and password.
Other messages may install harmful malware on your phone that steals your personal information without you realizing it.
Additional resources:Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information: www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-recognize-and-report-spam-text-messages
Unemployment fraud complaints have seen a significant spike since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Both the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) and Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) offer free resources for fraud victims.
How to tell if you’ve been targeted:
If you received a Reliacard debit card or other paperwork from CDLE but have not filed an unemployment claim, CBI said your personal information may have been used to file a fraudulent claim.
Suggested steps you should consider:
- Report the fraud to your employer.
- Report the fraud to your state employment agency.
- Consider placing a Credit Freeze on your credit.
How to report the fraud to your state employment agency:
CBI advises Coloradans to report the fraudulent claims on CDLE's website: https://cdle.colorado.gov/unemployment by following these steps:
- Click on "Report Fraud" (https://cdle.colorado.gov/fraud-prevention) and then "Submit a Fraud Report." Enter your email address.
- For type of Fraud, click on: "My identity was used to file an unemployment claim" or "I have received a Reliacard with someone else's name".
- If you received a U.S. Bank Reliacard for Colorado unemployment benefits but did not file a claim, fill out the U.S Bank form at this link (PDF) - 91 KB and contact U.S. Bank immediately at 1-855-279-1678. Tell them that a fraudulent unemployment claim was filed using your information and ask them to deactivate the card.
- If you discover any incorrect or fraudulent information on your credit report, you should dispute it with the credit bureau directly.
CBI said this process for reporting the fraudulent claims will alert the proper investigators for the State of Colorado.
How to place a Credit Freeze on you credit
Contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies to place a fraud alert. Whichever company you contact is required to notify the other two:
- Experian online, or 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion online, or 1-800-680-7289
- Equifax online, or 1-888-836-6351
For more information about placing a credit freeze, obtaining a free credit report, and steps to take as a victim of identity theft, please visit: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/
Colorado Department of Labor and Employment: https://cdle.colorado.gov/unemployment
Employment fraud is an attempt to deceive people who are seeking employment by giving them false hope. Common employment scams, such as pyramid schemes, check-cashing schemes, and phony job offers, typically request personal information, bank details, or buy-in to secure the job.
Here's how they work:
You see an ad saying you can earn big money at home. Or one that offers help starting an online business – with a proven system to make money online. Or maybe your resume is on a job search website and someone calls: they want your driver’s license and bank account numbers before they interview you.
What happens next?
If you answer the ad to work from home, they’ll ask you for money – for training or special access. But there’ll be no job. If you buy that proven system, you’ll get pressure to pay more for extra services. But you will not receive anything that really helps you start a business or make money. And if you give that caller your driver’s license and bank account numbers, they might steal your identity or your money.
Here’s what you can do:
Stop. Check it out. Never pay money to earn money. And don’t share personal information until you’ve done your research. Search online for the company name and the words “review,” “scam” or “complaint.”
Pass this information on to a friend. You probably know how to keep your money and information safe. But you may know someone who could use a friendly reminder.
Federal Trade Commission: www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/pass-it-on/work-at-home-scams