Important Member Alert: Tax Scams

We are in the midst of tax season, and you guessed it – the fraudsters are at it again! Please be on the lookout for the following tax scams, where the scammers have been posing as the IRS via phone or email. The most important thing to remember here is that the IRS will never contact you via phone or email.

Click here to watch a short video from NBC Nightly News, which explains some of the recent tax scams.

In the first tax scam scenario, fraudsters will have already obtained an individual’s non-public personal information (name, SSN, date of birth) and bank account information. They may have obtained this information in many different ways (dumpster diving, computer hacking, stolen wallet, pretext calling). They will then file a false tax return using the individual’s name and information. Once they receive confirmation that the tax return has been deposited into the individual’s bank account, they will contact the individual via telephone posing as an employee of the IRS. They will state the funds were deposited to their account in error and order them to pay the funds back or suffer penalties.

In the second tax scam scenario, a fraudster will contact an individual via phone or email, again posing as a representative from the IRS. They will state that they owe back taxes and demand payment from the individual. They will attempt to obtain the individual’s checking account/bank routing number or credit card information to directly debit their account, or they may instruct them to mail a check.

Once again, the IRS will never contact anyone via phone or email – they will only use regular US postal mail. If you receive a phone call or email from the “IRS” – it is not the IRS.

Have you received a tax refund you didn’t file for yet?

  • Contact your financial institution immediately.
  • Have your financial institution return anything direct deposited into your account to the IRS, and then call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040
  • For an actual check received in the mail, write VOID across the front of the check and mail it to the IRS location closest to you by entering your zip code at IRS.gov
  • If you cashed the check, you will need to reimburse the IRS with a personal check.
  • For further instructions, visit the tax fraud section of the IRS’ website here.

If you feel that any of your First Financial accounts may have been compromised as a result of a tax scam, please contact Member Services at 732-312-1500 Monday through Friday 8am-6pm EST, or Saturday 8:30am-1pm.

Article Sources: NBC Nightly News and IRS.gov

Scammers Impersonating the Social Security Administration

Your Social Security number is an important key for an identity thief. Scammers want it, and they think of all sorts of ways to trick you into giving it away.

The Federal Trade Commission has been getting reports about calls from scammers claiming to be from the Social Security Administration. They say there’s been a computer problem, and they need to confirm your Social Security number.

Others have come across spoof websites that look like the place where you would apply for a new Social Security card – but these websites are actually a setup to steal your personal information.

If you get a phone call or are directed to a website other than ssa.gov that is claiming to be associated with the Social Security Administration, don’t respond. It’s most likely a scam.

Here are some tips to deal with these government imposters:

  • Don’t give the caller your information. Never give out or confirm sensitive information – like your bank account, credit card, or Social Security Number – unless you know who you’re dealing with. If someone has contacted you, you can’t be sure who they are.
  • Don’t trust a name or number. Con artists use official-sounding names to make you trust them. To make their call seem legitimate, scammers use internet technology to spoof their area code – so although it may seem they are calling from Washington DC, they could be calling from anywhere in the world.
  • Check with the Social Security Administration. The SSA has a warning about these scams and suggests you contact them directly at 1-800-772-1213 to verify the reason for the contact and the person’s identity prior to providing any information to the caller.

If you come across one of these scams, please report it to the Social Security Administration’s Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271 and then tell the FTC about it.

Article Source: Ari Lazarus for the Federal Trade Commission

 

Don’t Give to a Charity Imposter this Holiday Season

When you give to a charity, you’re giving because you care and want to help — and you want to be sure your money actually gets to those you’re trying to help. But scammers who are pretending to be a charity, will try to get to your wallet.

Typically people feel as though the holiday season is one of the most important times of the year to donate to a charity – which is a great thing, just be sure you are doing your research and know where your money is going first!

Consider these tips before you give:

  • Rule out anyone who asks you to send cash, pay with a gift card, or wire money.
  • Confirm the exact name of the charity and do some research, especially when donating for the first time. Search for the name of the charity online — plus the word “complaint” or “scam.” That’s one way to learn about a charity’s reputation.
  • Give to charities you know and trust, with a proven track record. Before you give to any charity, check them out with the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or GuideStar.
  • Avoid charities that seem to pop up overnight in connection with a natural disaster or other tragedy.
  • Don’t assume that pleas for help on crowdfunding sites or social media are legitimate. Real victims’ pictures and stories can easily be misused to con you.
  • Before you text to donate, confirm the number on the charity’s website.
  • Be cautious of clicking on links or opening attachments in emails, even if they appear to be from a charity. You could unknowingly install malware on your computer or be taken to a look-alike website run by scammers.

For more information, visit ftc.gov/charity. If you think you’ve spotted a charity scam, report it at ftc.gov/complaint.

Article Source: Emma Fletcher, FTC.gov

 

6 Scams to Watch Out For this Holiday Season

The holiday season is a joyful time for family, friends, celebrations, and gifts. And unfortunately, it can be a time for scams. Now that the holiday season has officially arrived, authorities are warning local residents to beware of scams and deceptive advertising while shopping at stores or online this year.

Here are some tips on how to protect yourself:

The Bait and Switch: Take retailers’ advertisements to the store with you. Unscrupulous retailers may advertise goods at low prices, but when you get to the store the price may be higher than advertised or the product might not be there at all.

Skimming Devices: Skimming devices are often placed on gas pumps or ATMs to capture data from the magnetic stripe on the back of credit and debit cards. If something looks out of place or easily wiggles, use a different ATM, gas pump, or register.

“Cybersquatting” Sites: Crooks try to impersonate well-known websites by inverting characters or slightly altering the name of a well-known website. The copycat sites may look similar to the real website – and they can steal your credit information. Carefully read website addresses to ensure you are shopping on a legitimate website.

Copycat and Fraudulent Websites: Fake websites set up by scammers target online shoppers during the holiday season. Sometimes appearing as ad results in online searches, these sites may contain malware or steal credit card data. Avoid making purchases from untrustworthy sites.

Security Certificates: To ensure you are shopping on a secure website, make sure the website begins with “https” and has a small padlock icon next to the webpage address. Keep your computer, tablet or smartphone up-to-date and install security software.

Retailers Who Request Payment through Wire Transfer: Legitimate online businesses will not use wire transfer to collect payment for purchases, ever. This is a sure sign of a scam.

Some other important holiday shopping tips:

  • Sign up for transaction alerts on your credit and debit cards, or at least monitor your accounts closely online and report any suspicious activity immediately to your financial institution. Enroll in Visa Purchase Alerts for your First Financial debit card here. Sign up for Visa Credit Card alerts in Online Banking.
  • Think before you click! This doesn’t just pertain to emails, also be leary about clicking on online ads, applications and electronic greeting cards. Cybercriminals often mimic content, so be on the lookout for altered URLs.
  • Don’t trust a site or name you don’t know, and don’t fall for too good to be true prices.
  • Use payment methods that offer tokenization. This includes using a digital wallet to pay for purchases like Apple Pay, Samsung/Android Pay and the like.
  • Have unique, complex passwords for websites that store your information and change your passwords frequently.
  • Be cautious of charities you give to online, in person and over the phone. If you are going to donate, be sure to investigate the charity on the web first and make sure they are legitimate (or a well-known organization like the Salvation Army, St. Jude, etc.).
  • Ensure home computers are protected with antivirus software, anti-spyware, and a firewall.
  • Look for ATM and gas pump tampering, or skimming devices. Do not use the ATM or gas pump if you suspect anything suspicious. Watch our short video on how to spot a skimming device here.

Article Source: Kara Seymour for Patch.com and 11-28-17 CUNA Risk Alert

Important Alert: Jury Duty Scam

The FBI is warning residents in New Jersey of a phone scam that involves callers impersonating law enforcement officials who demand money, telling the intended victim they failed to appear for jury duty.

According to the FBI’s Philadelphia and Newark divisions, the scammers say they’re with one of several law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Marshals Service or a county sheriff’s department.

They accuse the call recipient of failing to appear for federal or local jury duty and warn that an arrest warrant has been issued. They tell the intended victim they need to pay a fine through a prepaid debit card, then tell them to provide them with the card information, according to information from the FBI.

“Recent reports indicate these scammers have been targeting New Jersey residents; variations of the ‘jury duty’ scam have been documented in numerous other states, as well,” the FBI said.

The FBI offered the following tips to avoid being victimized by this scam:

  • Never give money or personal information to someone with whom you don’t have ties and did not initiate contact with first.
  • Trust your instincts: if an unknown caller pressures you, or says things that don’t sound right, hang up.
  • If concerns remain about the caller’s claims, verify the information with the appropriate law enforcement agency or court officials.

If you are a victim of a phone or online scam, you should file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center here.

If at anytime you feel any of your First Financial accounts may have been compromised in a similar scam, contact our Member Relationship Center right away at 732.312.1500. If your First Financial credit or debit cards were compromised in a scam, call the 24/7 toll-free number on the back of your card to report the incident and replace your card. All important phone numbers for members can be found on our website: https://www.firstffcu.com/contact-us.htm

Article Source: Kara Seymour for Patch.com

Scam Alert: Caller ID Spoofing

Scammers are using fake caller ID information to trick you into thinking they’re someone who can be trusted. The practice is called caller ID spoofing, and scammers can basically fake anyone’s phone number and allow you to think they are a representative from a company.

There are even reports that scammers are spoofing the FTC’s Consumer Response Center phone number (877-382-4357). But don’t let that stop you from reporting scammers — it’s still safe to call the FTC Consumer Response Center, and it’s also safe to report scammers online.

If you’ve submitted a report or request to the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, the FTC might call you for additional information. But they won’t call you from 877-382-4357. And the FTC will never ask for money or for sensitive information such as your Social Security Number, date of birth, or bank account information.

Scammers are constantly picking new phone numbers to spoof. Here are a few tips for staying ahead of scammers and their unexpected calls:

  • If you get a strange call from a government phone number, hang up. If you want to check it out, visit the official (.gov) website for contact information.
  • Don’t give out or confirm your personal or financial information to someone who calls.
  • Don’t wire money or send money using a reloadable card. In fact, never pay someone who calls out of the blue, even if the name or number on the caller ID looks legit.
  • Feeling pressured to act immediately? Hang up. That’s a sure sign of a scam.

If you’ve gotten a call from a scammer, with or without fake caller ID information, report it to the FTC.

If at anytime you feel any of your First Financial accounts may have been compromised in a similar scam, contact our Member Relationship Center right away at 732.312.1500. If your First Financial credit or debit cards were compromised in a scam, call the 24/7 toll-free number on the back of your card to report the incident and replace your card. Remember that First Financial will never call and ask you for any sensitive information over the phone. All important phone numbers for members can be found on our website: https://www.firstffcu.com/contact-us.htm

Article Source: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2017/10/call-877-382-4357-hang?utm_source=govdelivery