By Pattyl Aposhian Kasparian
Vice President, Caltech Employees
federal credit union
There’s no way to sugarcoat this – scammers and fraudsters take every opportunity to exploit you financially.
We are all potential targets when we access our emails, surf the web or answer our phones.
In the eyes of fraudsters, older consumers are fiscally apt victims of financial scams due to their substantial savings of liquid assets, meaning assets that can be quickly and easily converted to cash such as checking accounts, savings and brokerage. Equally important, older people tend to have little or no credit card debt, which gives them higher credit scores and solvency.
By using your good credit, a fraudster will qualify and apply for high limit credit cards and loans. Scammers can max out loan and card limits in days or even hours. Fraud victims are often ignored until a collection agency calls, demanding payment for the borrowed money.
“We are in dangerous times,” said Rich Harris, president and CEO of Caltech Employees Federal Credit Union, a $2 billion financial institution serving exclusively the Caltech and JPL communities. “Combating and deterring financial fraud is at the forefront of what we do to protect our members every day. It is heartbreaking to see members losing their hard-earned money to scammers because they inadvertently clicked on a pop-up or surrendered to a non-existent threat.
You may be targeted by someone you know, such as a caregiver or extended family member, or you may be targeted by organized scammers with access to data breach lists and other cybercrime resources . Or you may simply fall victim to sophisticated scams set up in the form of lookalike government websites, fake emails, text messages and social media posts as a trick to take your money and obtain your personal information.
COMMON TYPES OF SCAMS
• The representative: pretends to be a government official, a technical employee or a charity.
• Quick Extortions: Often referred to as a “grandparent scam,” a scammer poses as a lawyer or surety willing to help a young family member in need.
• Health fraud: remedy, supplement or treatment presented as a quick fix
• Natural disaster: offer assistance in applying for grants and free services after a disaster
• Delivery: SMS, calls or emails regarding a missed delivery
- Scammers will demand payment in a way that makes it impossible to refund your money.
• Gift cards: They ask you to put money on a gift card and read the card numbers to them.
• Check: They send a check and ask you to deposit and return some or all of the money to them.
• Money transfer: They ask for payment by instant transfers via Zelle, PayPal, Western Union or cryptocurrency.
- Scammers threaten you, rush you, scare you, or push you to act quickly. Legitimate businesses and government agencies will not threaten legal action if an exorbitant fine is not paid immediately.
- The scammers call you with a blocked number and ask you to review your saved personal information. Do not confirm or correct any information provided about you or anyone you know.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF
• Never share your login credentials with anyone.
• Don’t trust a friendly voice or a nice message on social media. Scammers can disguise themselves by changing the caller ID to display a local phone number or one that looks like yours.
• Think twice before clicking. Don’t click on any links, whether they’re texted, emailed, or posted on social media.
• Protect your home Internet and wireless networks with strong passwords. Change the name of your network and avoid using your name or address so people don’t know the network belongs to your house.
• If you answer the phone and hear a few seconds of silence, clicks, or a recorded voice prompting you to “press 1 to talk to a live person,” hang up immediately.
• Use strong and unique passwords. Reusing passwords compromises all accounts that use the password.
• Establish multiple authentication protocols for financial accounts and email.
• Carefully review statements and accounts — not only from your financial institutions and credit card, but also medical records. Look for and report suspicious activity on monthly statements, Explanation of Benefits, or your Medicare Summary Notice.
• When in doubt, take your time. Talk to a trusted source. Find the business or organization contacting you.
And remember to always protect your identity. This is a serious matter that can wreak havoc on your finances, credit history, and reputation, and take time, money, and patience to resolve.
For more information, contact Caltech Employees Federal Credit Union at (800) 592-3328 or visit cefcu.org