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Common Fraud Examples

Fraud attempts usually have at least one—if not more—of the following features.

  • An urgent tone – like, “act quickly!” or “if you don’t respond, we’ll be forced to take action!”
  • Automated phone calls that appear to come from your financial institution (fraudsters may be able to “spoof” the phone number so that your bank or credit union’s name appears on caller ID)!
  • Requesting of personal information (account numbers, SSNs, usernames, passwords, PINS).
  • Website links that appear legitimate.
  • Forged (or slightly tweaked) sender’s email addresses that make them appear more legitimate.
  • Poor grammar and spelling.
  • Low-quality or slightly altered logos from trusted institutions.
  • A request to access your computer to install updates or fix bugs.

Here are some common examples:

Closed Account Hoaxes

A phone call, text message, or email appearing to come from a financial institution, stating that the recipient's account (or card) has been closed or suspended. It may request that they click on a link in the email. The link (if clicked) takes them to an impostor website probing for account information. This website may ask you to enter your username and password. Imposter phone calls may request the recipient to enter in their card number and PIN. This fraud attempt is designed to frighten recipients by expressing a sense of urgency and making deadlines.

Fraud Verification Hoaxes

In this type of scam, an email is sent pretending to be from a financial institution stating the recipient's account may have been part of a security breach, that they’re alerting you to suspicious account activity. This fraud attempt urges recipients to go to a website and sign-in using a provided link to update or verify personal information. The link, if clicked, takes them to an impostor website probing for account information.

This kind of fraud can also happen via a phone call or text message, in which the caller is asked to sometimes “press 1” and then provide personal information or send back a “YES” or “NO” to confirm suspicious activity.

Internet Auction Hoaxes

People selling items on eBay and other Internet auction sites have been given counterfeit checks in payment for an item. The buyer sends the seller a counterfeit check for more than the item's selling price and requests the seller send the difference back to the buyer through Western Union or another means. In the end, the fraudster is left with the cash and the product you sent, and you are left with a returned fraudulent check.

Member Satisfaction Survey

In a Member Satisfaction Survey scam, emails will appear to be a request for a survey completion. They promise a monetary reward (such as sending money directly into your account) in return for a survey completion. Links in these emails take recipients to a page to complete a survey and provide their personal information. After submitting, they’ll request your account number (suggesting they need it to place money in your account). The fraudster uses this hoax to gain your sensitive account information to create either fictitious checks, or initiate wire transfers or ACH withdraws.


Phishing is the attempt to obtain personal information such as usernames, passwords, debit/credit card information, account information, and more. These criminals often use a technique called spoofing, which changes the caller ID to reflect another number (often a trusted one, like your bank or credit union’) and will ask you to answer security questions to verify your identity—when really, they’re trying to gather your personal/sensitive information in order to take over your account.

Phishing can also occur through email. Criminals may pose as trusted organizations (your financial institution or the IRS) or merchants prompting you to provide sensitive/identifying information. Click here for more information on how to protect yourself from such an attempt.

IRS Fraud

IRS fraud is incredibly popular and may come in the form of a phone call or email that may come across as urgent and aggressive. These fraudsters often try to scare victims into providing payment or personal information by threatening that the government will come after them if they don’t, stating that they still owe on taxes.

If you receive a call from the IRS, DO NOT provide any personal information! Contact from the IRS will come to you in the form of a letter, NOT by phone call. The IRS does NOT take payment in the form of gift cards, and they do not hold your loved ones captive. Learn more about this scam and how to keep your information safe. Learn more about phone scams and tax scams.


Skimmers are mini card readers that capture data off a card’s magnetic strip. With this stolen data, fraudsters can create cloned cards and use them in various ways. Learn more about skimmers and how to protect your accounts by clicking here. Learn more.

Cyber Security

Perhaps the most concerning and most rapidly evolving type of scams are breaches in cybersecurity. To ensure your device does not fall victim to a cybersecurity attack, DO NOT click on any unfamiliar links, pop ups, or images. Criminals use these methods to infiltrate your computer. If you are concerned that your device—a computer, smart phone, tablet, or other electronic device—we recommend taking it to a local computer store to get wiped and restored.

Microsoft Tech Support Scams

With these scams, you may be accessing your computer, when all of a sudden an “error” warning pops up. You then immediately receive a call from Microsoft Tech Support, even though you hadn’t prompted the call. This tech support team member states that they are with Microsoft and can assist you in offering a “solution” to your error. These solutions always include asking you to give them remote access into your computer, and prompting you to purchase their one-time fee or subscription to the purported service.

Microsoft will NEVER make unsolicited phone calls regarding pop up “errors.” NEVER allow someone remote access to your computer unless you know for certain that they are legitimate. To learn more about these types of scams click here.

Misdialed Number Scams

Commonly referred to as "fat-finger dialing scams," this kind of fraud happens when a scammer purchases a telephone number very similar to (often off by just one number) the number of a legitimate company, like a financial institution or credit card company. When a caller misdials just one number and reaches the scammer, the scammer will pretend to be an employee of the institution the caller meant to reach, and ask for personal information (credit card number, social security number, and so on). Sometimes, to encourage the caller to share more information, the scammer will claim that the caller is eligible to receive free rewards and incentives.

Payday Loan Scams

Fraudsters have a lot of time on their hands to develop new scams to steal your personal information and money, and they love to target those who are in financial distress. Learn about these vicious scams by clicking here.

What to Do if You Believe You’ve Been a Victim of Fraud

If you feel as if you may be a victim to one of the above mentioned scams or hoaxes, it is important that you stop all contact with the person who has victimized you and contact us immediately so we can assist in fixing your compromised information. For more information on how to contact us, click here.

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