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.
This is a popular scam right now affecting many young adults, college students in particular.
The Instagram “Artist” Scam starts with a stranger sending you a message about one or more of your posted photos. Claiming to be some sort of artist, they will tell you how inspired they were by your photo and ask for permission to create an original work of art based on it. In fact, they’ll pay you quite well for the opportunity!
If you agree to have your photo used as “inspiration,” they’ll tell you that the client (or their secretary, because of course this client is quite wealthy) will simply pay you the full amount using a peer-to-peer payment app like Venmo or Cashapp, then you can forward the artist’s cut to the artist and keep the agreed-upon amount for yourself. At times, they'll even send you a bogus check to deposit.
Don't fall for it. This does not end well for you. You will end up losing your hard earned money by this scam.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.