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Protect Yourself from Fraud & Scams

Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union
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Peace of Mind Protection

Fraud and scams can happen to anyone. The safety and security of your financial information is of utmost importance to us. We work hard to protect your finances, but there is a lot you can do to protect yourself.
 
Fraudsters are using the internet, mail, and telephone in many ways to try to make you fall victim to their schemes. 
 
If something looks suspicious or seems too good to be true, it probably is.
 
Below is a list of common fraud schemes you should watch out for.

IRS Impersonation Scams

Individuals and businesses are receiving fraudulent phone calls and text messages impersonating the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) attempting to obtain personal/banking information. 

The IRS also issued an alert regarding fraudulent emails impersonating the IRS. The emails coerce the recipient into clicking on a malicious website link.

These phone calls, text messages and emails are fraudulent. 

It is important to keep in mind that the IRS generally does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, phone or text to request personal or financial information.

If you receive such a communication from the IRS, do not provide any personal information (especially while on the telephone). Rather, if you feel the contact may be legitimate, first review and follow the guidelines provided by the IRS.

For more information on current Coronavirus Scams involving the IRS, visit our Coronavirus Prepardness Page.


Mystery Shopping

Mystery shopping scams are very common. There are various ways mystery shopping scams can occur. 

Fraudsters will contact victims through letters which include money orders. They then  instruct them to cash the money orders or check, keep a certain amount for themselves then use the rest of the funds at a store to purchase gift cards. They ask them to evaluate the store experience then send pictures of the gift cards to an email our phone number with the gift card back code already scratched off. 

Secondly, Fraudsters contact victims through employment websites and ask them to first evaluate the Western Union Money Transfer service or any other similar service. The fraudster sends the victim a check and instructs them to deposit the check and use the funds to then send a money transfer.

What the victim is not expecting is for the check or money order to be returned back to their financial institution as a “counterfeit” and the victim is left responsible for the funds owed to their financial institution.

Text Message Scam

Scammers will use cell phone text messages to lure members in. Often, the text will contain a URL or phone number and the phone number often has an automated voice response system. The text message usually asks for your immediate attention.

In many cases, the text message will come from a "5000" number instead of displaying an actual phone number. This usually indicates the text message was sent via email to the cell phone, and not sent from another cell phone.

Do not respond to these text messages; they are scams.

Employment

The fraudster will send a check to the victim who has accepted a job. The check can be for multiple reasons such as a signing bonus, supplies, etc.

The victim will be instructed to deposit the check and use the money for any of these reasons and then instructed to send the remaining funds to the fraudster.

The check will be returned to their financial institution and the victim is left responsible for the funds owed.

 

Overpayment Scam

The fraudster sends the victim a check that appears to be a valid payment for a service or product.

Typically, the amount of the check exceeds what the victim expects to receive, and the fraudster tells the victim to send the excess back using a money transfer.

When the check bounces, the victim is left responsible for the full amount.


Grandparent Scam

The victim is contacted by an individual pretending to be a grandchild in distress, or a person of authority such as a medical professional, law enforcement officer, or attorney.

The fraudster describes an urgent situation or emergency (bail, medical expenses, emergency travel funds) involving the grandchild that requires a money transfer to be sent immediately.

No emergency has occurred, and the victim who sent money to help their grandchild has lost their money.

 

 


Did someone send you a check and ask you to send some money back? That's a scam!

Scam Scenarios
Ways they’ll ask you to send the money back
You win a prize and are told to send back taxes and fees
 
You sold an item online and the buyer overpays
 
You get paid as a “secret shopper” and are told
to wire back money or purchase gift cards
Money Orders
 
Gift Cards
 
Wire Transfers
 
Cash Apps  (ie. Venmo)
Why can’t the Credit Union tell it’s a fake check right away?
Financial institutions have to make deposited funds available within days. It’s the law. But uncovering a fake check can take weeks.
By then, the scammer has your money. And you have to repay the credit union. Remember - just because the
check has “cleared” does not mean it is a good check.
 
 What to do if you receive a Scam check?
Be cautious and contact MSEFCU if you think it may be a SCAM check. DO NOT CASH OR DEPOSIT THE CHECK.