Avoid Scams this Holiday Season

Update: New phone spoofing scam is on the rise in our area. Be alert when someone claims to be calling from California Coast Credit Union or another financial institution and asks for Personal Indication Information (PII).

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'Tis the season to follow these wise shopping tips and other anti-fraud precautions. Below are several tips on how to protect yourself:

  1. Online Shopping: Be wary of deals that seem too good to be true. It may take weeks before you become aware your goods have not been received and that you may have fallen victim to a scam. It’s important to do as much due diligence to confirm the legitimacy of a merchant, before you make a purchase, especially before you provide any of your personal or payment information. Be cautious of calls from scammers claiming to be large retailers stating they need additional funds to ship your goods -make sure you contact the company on a public number to confirm the legitimacy of the call. Legitimate merchants should not ask for your login credentials-if requested, this should be an immediate red flag. 
  2.  Social Media Shopping: Instead of clicking or swiping up on links, go directly to the merchant's website. Verify legitimacy of websites by checking on the Better Business Bureau website to read the company's reviews. Always make sure the website has an SSL certificate (keylock in the top left corner of your browser) before entering your credit card information.
  3. Investment/Business scams: Do not send or return any funds until you confirm the validity of the company. Ask your Credit Union representative for assistance if you have received money to utilize for the investment and need assistance verifying funds.
  4. Gift Card Scams: Legitimate merchants will not make requests for you to buy gift cards, use a gift card as payment or use money transfer services (cash apps) for a method of payment. If you purchase a gift card from a retailer, make sure the numbers are not scratched off before buying.
  5. Unsolicited calls or emails: Common scams include spoofing calls (wherein scammers manipulate caller ID’s to appear as if the calls are coming from a legitimate company) from IRS, Social Security, Law Enforcement, utility companies, or even large retailers as described above- these calls may be threatening or create a sense of urgency to persuade you to take immediate action. Contact the company directly on a public and trusted phone number to confirm the legitimacy of the contact attempts. Be cautions of callers asking for any personal information.
  6. Charity Scams: Go directly to the charity website, do not use intermediary sites. Call the organization first to ensure you are making a donation on the correct site.
  7. Reshipping/Move Money scams: Be cautious of any requests to help ship products on behalf of another party, these are commonly stolen goods. Other fraud “jobs” may include being asked to move money - these may be job scams like payroll processing, personal assistant, etc. This could be considered money mule activity and is illegal.
  8. Cash apps scams: Avoid paying for goods or services through money transfer platforms such as Cash App, PayPal, Venmo, Apple Pay, Facebook Pay and others. These services are intended to send funds to trusted family and friends and often there is no way to recover funds once the payment is processed.
  9. Banking Access: Never provide your online credentials to anyone. Scammers may try to persuade you to provide your online credentials to help with “troubleshooting” and may impersonate legitimate companies. Do not be coerced into providing them with access. If you have already given access to an unknown person, change your credentials immediately and contact us to help review if there has been any unusual activity on your account.
  10. Computer Security: Never provide your IP address to allow anyone to access your computer. You may receive a call from what appears to be a reputable company; however, this is a scammer gaining access to add malware or a virus in order to gain access to your personal information.

If you believe you have been a victim of a scam, please contact the Credit Union immediately. It is important that you document any and all information that you have provided to the scammer, including any personal identifying information, so we can determine the best way to assist you.

Sources on tips referenced above and additional resources for more information: