Electronic communications have made banking easier in many ways. Consumers can transfer money among their accounts from their home computers or smartphones, and credit unions can transfer money more easily than ever. But with convenience comes caution. There are many common scams crafted to get you to transfer your money or banking information.
This year alone, more than $209 million have been lost to wire fraud. Beware of these common scams:
Sweepstakes and Lotteries: You receive a call, letter, or e-mail saying you've won a contest, and all you have to do to claim your prize is wire money to cover the taxes, processing fees, or customs. Don't ever wire money to anyone you don't know.
Check Overpayment: A classified ad respondent sends you a check for more than the amount owed but asks you to deposit it anyway, take out the excess as cash, and wire it back. The check then bounces and you're out for the entire amount. Don't agree to exchange a check for wired cash unless you absolutely know and trust the sender.
Mystery Shopper: Word comes that you're wanted as a mystery shopper and your first assignment is to evaluate the customer service at a wire transfer company. The "company" sends you a check to deposit in your account and you withdraw the same amount of cash to wire to them so you can rate the transaction. As with the check overpayment scam, the check will undoubtedly bounce and your cash will be irretrievable.
Long-lost Family Member or Friend: In this fraud, someone calls a senior consumer claiming to be a family member or person of authority. The “grandchild” is in trouble and needs money wired immediately, and the grandparents should not tell mom and dad. Variations include e-mails from impostors of friends saying they need help for bogus medical care or to get out of a foreign country. Always research these types of calls or e-mails before reacting.
In short, don't give out personal information or send money unless you initiate the call. GCS Federal Credit Union will ask you identifying questions in order to ensure your identity and protect you from fraud. If you have questions or concerns about your accounts, call us at (618) 219-8600.