Online payments and wire transfers are fast, easy ways to send money to individuals and businesses. These payments are immediate and typically irreversible, so they are frequently used in fraud schemes.
Below are details about the most common financial scams and how to avoid them.
Real Estate Wire Scams
Real estate wire scams occur when someone buying/refinancing a home wires money to a scammer’s account after receiving false wiring instructions from the scammer in an email. Here are a few tips to avoid this scam:
- Know what to expect before closing on a loan by confirming the process with your lender.
- If you receive a last-minute change or urgent request to wire funds to avoid losing the property, contact your mortgage consultant immediately.
- Before wiring funds, confirm instructions with your mortgage consultant or title company by calling them directly.
- Do not respond to a new number or email with new instructions.
Tech Support Scams
Tech support scams happen when a member is contacted by someone claiming to be from a well-known technology company and requests remote access to the member’s computer. Sometimes the caller says they have identified a problem and offers to fix your computer for a fee. They may install malicious software to steal your personal or financial information if you grant them access. To avoid this scam:
- Never give control of your computer to anyone who contacts you. If you receive a call about a computer problem, hang up. If you suspect something is wrong with your laptop or believe the scammer accessed it, bring it to a reputable company for a malware check.
- Don’t trust phone numbers provided to you in an email, voicemail, or popup ad. If you want to call the company, use the customer service number on their official website. (Note: Scammers sometimes purchase ads and create fake customer service websites that will show up on search results.)
- If you are asked to wire money from a recent deposit or overpayment, discuss the situation with a banker or someone you know and trust. Be truthful about the case since many scammers direct you to lie about why you’re sending the money.
- Review your account activity to spot signs of fraud, such as any suspicious online transfer from your savings, credit card, or home equity line of credit. If you’re unsure of the descriptions used for a transaction, ask a banker to help since many scammers will add a memo to make the transfer appear legitimate.
Online Shopping Scams
It can be challenging to spot online shopping scams because scammers often create realistic websites and social media ads with great deals, fake assurances, and bogus product warranties. Typically, the scammer requests payment via a mobile payment app or wire transfer, because they are generally irreversible. If you use a payment app or wire money to the scammer, you’ll never receive the product and likely not get your money back. To avoid this scam:
- Watch out for deals that are too good to be true. A great discount could signify a scammer trying to lure you in, only to tack on additional fees once you make the first payment.
- Don’t pay for online products with a wire transfer or mobile payment app. Whenever possible, use a credit card.
Additional Financial Scams to Watch Out For:
- Romance Scam: You meet someone, typically through an online app or a social media site, and begin a relationship. Your online interest starts professing their love for you and then begins to ask for money to help with costs like medical bills or travel expenses to visit you.
- Foreign Business or Investment Scam: You’re approached with an offer to fund a lucrative investment or business opportunity, usually in another country. You’re directed to act quickly and keep the deal a secret, especially if questioned by your bank when sending the wire.
- Family Emergency or Grandparent Scam: You receive an urgent call or email from someone claiming to be a friend or family member who needs money for an emergency. To appear legitimate, they may provide details (pulled from social media) about your friend or relative in need.
- Cryptocurrency Scams: Be extremely wary of anyone offering to make cryptocurrency transactions. In many cases, no safeguards are in place when these products are used for payment.
First Entertainment Credit Union values our members’ rights to a safe and secure banking experience. To protect yourself from tomorrow’s cyber threats today, please be sure to check out our online Security Center for more safety tips. If you have any questions, please call us at 888.800.3328 or send us a Secure Message.