Fraud & Security Alerts

From phishing attacks to phone scams to counterfeit checks, beware of scammers' efforts to separate you from your money.

Don't fall for these financial traps and Scams

So what will the bad guys think of next? At Foothill Credit Union, we  promise to keep you informed about the latest dishonest tactics being used by  hackers, scam artists and identity thieves.

Zelle Scams That Involve Texts

 

Most of the reported Zelle scams consist of pure social engineering: manipulating people with fraudulent information and scare tactics.

 

Scammers use false claims and representations to get people to unknowingly authorize money transfers.

  • A common scam involves an email or text message asking a user to confirm a large, fake Zelle payment. When the user replies that they didn't authorize the transfer, the scammer follows up with a phone call pretending to represent the bank and spoofing the financial institution's phone number. They walk the caller through bogus instructions on how to reverse the unauthorized claims that instead actually transfer money to the criminals.
     
  • Another popular scam starts with a message claiming that your bank account has been compromised and that you need to take action immediately to resolve the problem. If you respond, the fraudsters follow up with a phone call, pretending to be your bank and guiding you through the process of transferring money.
     
  • Along with masquerading as your bank, scammers might also pose as institutions such as utility companies. This scam usually involves threats of service disconnection from someone posing as an employee of the electric company, who then asks for Zelle payments to keep the power on.

 

Holiday Scams to Watch Out For

It may seem scary with the many different ways that scammers are trying to trick you but, if you're vigilant about what you're accessing/clicking on when you're online, and you educate yourself about how fraudsters are tricking people, then you decrease the likelihood that you will fall prey to one of these scams.

1. Incredible Online Deals

Online scams use a variety of lures to get unsuspecting buyers to click on links or open attachments. Fraudsters build complete copies of well-known sites, send emails promoting great deals, sell products and take credit card information – but never deliver the goods. Sites or popups that seem to have incredible discounts should be a red flag. Remember that when a "special offer" is too good to be true, it usually is.

2. Phony Gift Cards

A popular holiday scam is luring people with big discounts on gift cards. Don't fall for offers from retailers or social media posts that offer phony vouchers or gift cards paired with special promotions or contests. Even emails or posts that may have been shared by a friend could be a result of hackers. It's better to err on the side of caution and just not click on the link.

3. Bogus Shipping Notices From UPS and FedEx

You may see emails supposedly from UPS or FedEx in your inbox that claim that there's some kind of problem with your package. Many of these are phishing attacks that try to make you click on a link or open an attachment. Do not click on these links as they will often lead to your computer being infected with a virus that provides a hacker with all of your private information.

4. Holiday Refund Scams

Emails about refunds that seem to come from retail chains or e-commerce companies such as Amazon, that claim there's a "wrong transaction" and prompt you to click the refund link are most likely scams. When you click the link, you are asked to fill out a form, the personal information you give out may then be sold to cyber criminals. Also, never pay online with a debit card, only use credit cards. If the debit card gets compromised, the scammer can empty your bank account quickly. Another important tip when it comes to online shopping, never use your credit card to pay for an item when you are using a public unsecure wifi connection.

5. Phishing 

Phishing emails have begun circulating that trick people into thinking they could win movie tickets for highly-anticipated films, or even local team tickets. These emails are phishing attacks - remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

6. Subscription Scams (i.e Netflix, Amazon Prime, Spotify, etc)

Criminals pose as a recognized company and send texts and emails to people informing them that subscription has been renewed. The emails go on to ask people to click on a link to review the summary details of their renewal. However, the link is malicious and either installs malware on your computer, steals your personal information or takes you to a fake website. 

To avoid a subscription renewal scam, ignore any messages about auto-renewals claiming to be from a company where you don’t have a subscription. If it appears to be from a company where you do have a subscription, check the sender’s email address to ensure it’s from the correct company.  

 

Prevent Zelle® Scams

Recently, we have seen an uptick of members falling victim to financial scams, specifically via Zelle® transactions. For example, fraudsters impersonate a Foothill Credit Union representative and con the user into using Zelle® to transfer funds to themselves. While they claim the money will replace funds stolen from the user’s account, the Zelle® transfer actually goes to the fraudsters. 

DO NOT GIVE OUT ANY PASSWORD OR ONE-TIME PASS CODES. Foothill will never reach out to you by phone, text or email to ask for information you received via text (SMS) or pressure you to reset your online banking password.
 

To protect yourself from scams, here are some reminders of how to keep your money and information secure.

  • Refunds are not issued through Zelle®. If somebody calls you and offers a refund via Zelle®, hang up the phone and contact us.
  • Don’t trust caller ID. Caller ID may be modified to show your financial institution’s name.
  • Don’t give information over the phone if you receive a call stating that a transaction is canceled, even if the caller claims to be from your financial institution.
  • Don’t click on links in unsolicited emails or texts.
  • Don’t give an unsolicited caller remote access to your computer.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Trust your gut and if you have a bad feeling, do not proceed.  
  • If you are asked to deposit a check or money order before wiring funds, it is likely a scam.  
  • If you ever receive suspicious communication or are unsure whether something is a fraud attempt, please contact us at 626-445-0950 so we can investigate further.
     

How does Zelle® define Fraud Vs. Scams

As a consumer, it’s important to understand how fraud and scams are defined because there may be differences in the consumer protections offered by your bank or credit union. A basic way to differentiate fraud and scams is unauthorized vs. authorized transactions.
 
FRAUD
If someone gained access to your bank account and made a payment with Zelle® without your permission, and you weren’t involved in any way with the transaction, this is typically considered fraud since it was unauthorized activity. If someone gained access to your account, and stole money or sent it without your permission, this could be defined as fraud. Immediately report suspected unauthorized activity to your financial institution. Because you did NOT authorize a payment, you are typically able to get your money back after reporting the incident.
 
SCAM
If you were knowingly involved in the transaction and you gave the “ok” and authorized a payment to be sent, this is typically defined as a scam. Even if you were tricked or persuaded into authorizing a payment for a good or service someone said they were going to provide, but they didn’t fulfill it, this would be considered a scam. Because you authorized the payment, you may not be able to get your money back. A few types of scams reported involve purchasing tickets, buying puppies and other financial scams like cash flips.
 
 

Beware of Phishing Text/Email Scams

A scam tactic that we want you to pay close attention to is text/email phishing. Phishing texts/emails are deceptive texts or emails disguised as an official text or email from someone you trust or an organization you may conduct regular business with. Be wary of links and attachments included in them and be sure to validate the sender before clicking a link or opening any attachment. 

This is just another reminder to our members that Foothill will not ask for your personal information over emails or send you links that ask for such. Avoid opening attachments or clicking on links from senders you don’t recognize.

 

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Amazon Scam

We have had reports of members being contacted about an issue with their Amazon account and are instructed to download an app called AnyDesk. This app allows the fraudsters remote access to members phones. The fraudsters then gain access to members account via the Foothill app and perform fraudulent activity via Zelle.

Please DO NOT DOWNLOAD THE ANYDESK APP, for this app gives the fraudsters full access to your phone.

Unfortunately, if money does get sent out, via Zelle, we are unable to recover the funds.

 

Coronavirus Covid-19 Scam Alert

It’s common for scammers to take advantage of emergencies—moments when people are scared, desperate, and at their most vulnerable—to propagate scams, and the Coronavirus pandemic is no different.
 

Beware of Phone Call Scams

In addition, please remember that Foothill will never ask for your personal information over the phone, unless you are expecting a return call from a Foothill representative. For unsolicited calls, ask for the name of the company and phone number, then check a valid source to verify that number. You can always call back once you’ve verified the legitimacy of the call.
 

If you are ever in doubt about an email or a phone call, contact us at (626) 445-0950. It's critical that we all stay alert and vigilant, especially during these trying times.
 

Zelle Scam

We had reports of members getting a call or text from a number that looks like it’s coming from Foothill and being asked to divulge personal information. Please do not fall for this scam. In fact, Foothill will never call or text you asking for your username, password, security codes, or any personal information to access your account.

Scammers have recently been targeting Zelle users (and other peer-to-peer money transferring services) because of the ease and speed of the transactions made. A phone call or text is used to lure unsuspected members into giving up their personal information.

As technology evolves, so do the tactics performed by these scammers. When in doubt, hang up (or don't reply to the text) and give us a call directly at 626-445-0950. Also, it's not a bad idea to set alerts within Online Banking to monitor your account.

Foothill Credit Union is a full-service credit union with California branches in Arcadia, Covina and Glendora.

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