Security and Scam Prevention Tips

Let's work together to avoid scams and fraud.

Contact Us: Security and Scam Prevention Tips Locations: Security and Scam Prevention Tips

We're here to help you at every turn.

Stay alert and know how to spot potential scams and fraud.

Tips to safeguard your accounts

Establish good habits now to help prevent and detect fraud, including:
  • Never share your Online/Mobile Banking login username or password with anyone. VCCU and other legitimate institutions will never ask you for that information. 
    • If you receive a call, email or text message from a legitiate company asking for your password, it's a scam. Instead, say you will call back and use the phone number from the company's website.
  • Stay ahead of the fraudsters by knowing what scams are out there and how to spot a scam when you see one. Visit consumer.ftc.gov and sign up for Consumer Alerts to your inbox.
  • Remember to check your account statements regularly for any suspicious or unusual transactions.
  • Catch signs of identity theft early by checking your credit report at least once per year. Get your free credit report at annualcreditreport.com.
Take action: Report fraud to the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Visit our Fraud Protection and Identity Theft pages to learn more.
 

Scams and Alerts

The information provided here is for informational purposes only. These scams have not happened at any Ventura County Credit Union ATM machine and are not a warning to our members. These are merely trends that have happened elsewhere in the United States for which you should be aware. Please contact us with any questions you may have.

A team of organized criminals is installing equipment on legitimate bank ATMs in at least two regions to steal both the ATM card number and the PIN. The team sits nearby in a car receiving the information transmitted wirelessly from equipment they install on the front of the ATM. If you see an attachment like this, do not use the ATM and report it immediately to the police.

The equipment used to capture your ATM card number and PIN is cleverly disguised to look like normal ATM equipment. A "skimmer" is mounted to the front of the normal ATM card slot that reads the ATM card number and transmits it to the criminals. At the same time, a wireless camera is disguised to look like a leaflet holder and is mounted in a position to view ATM PIN entries. The thieves copy the cards and use the PIN numbers to withdraw thousands of dollars from many accounts in a very short time directly from the ATM.

Thieves are putting a thin, clear, rigid plastic “sleeve” into the ATM card slot. When you insert your card, the machine can't read the strip, so it keeps asking you to re-enter your PIN number. Meanwhile, someone behind you watches as you key in your number. Eventually you give up, thinking the machine has swallowed your card and you walk away. The thieves then remove the plastic sleeve complete with card, and empty your account. If your card is captured by an ATM machine, contact the financial institution where the card was issued as soon as possible.

College students are recruited through social media, including Facebook and YouTube and in-person at college campuses. Willing participants provide the fraudsters with their ATM/debit cards and PINs. The fraudsters deposit fraudulent checks (stolen or counterfeit checks) to the student accounts via ATMs and subsequently withdraw the funds. The fraudulent checks are subsequently returned unpaid and charged back to the students’ accounts. Following the fraudsters’ instructions, the participants report their ATM/debit card as lost or stolen and that the transactions were fraudulent.

Be aware that you may not be entitled to protection for unauthorized use of your ATM/debit card if you willingly provide your card to the fraudsters. Click here for our Electronic Funds Transfers Agreements and Disclosure Agreement.

Members answer an online advertisement offering money to have their cars “wrapped” with advertising from a reputable company. The offer usually includes a lucrative up-front payment and then monthly installments for just driving around in your car and displaying their ads. The scammer sends a check for more than was agreed upon and asks the victim to deposit or cash the item and send electronically the difference directly to the graphic artist that will be performing the installation on the car using Western Union or MoneyGram. The check winds up returning and no one shows up to wrap the car.

TIP: Never accept a check for deposit for more than was agreed on upfront and always let a credit union employee verify the check before depositing it.

With the economy and job markets still struggling, unemployed members searching for work have been victimized by “work from home” scams. The members have been contacted, interviewed and hired via email. After performing a minor task like a “mystery shop” or a making a travel arrangement, they receive a check in the mail that represents an “excess payment.” The boss asks them to cash the check at their financial institution, and return the overpayment via Western Union or MoneyGram. The original check ultimately returns unpaid as a counterfeit and the member incurs a loss.

TIP: Ask a credit union employee to verify the check for you before negotiating it!

Gift card scams. Gift cards are a popular way for scammers to steal money from you. Gift cards are for gifts, not payments. Anyone who demands payment by gift card is always a scammer.

Watch this video from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on how to detect and report common gift card scams. Learn more about gift card scams here

Scammers pose as grandchildren in distress and needing money wired to them immediately due to a car accident, an emergency medical situation, or to be released from jail in a foreign country.

TIP: The perpetrator will often plead with the victim not to tell anyone. Credit union employees are kept aware of the current scams targeted at our membership and can help you validate the information before you send the money.

Members selling an item on an online site such as Craigslist are sent a check for more than the amount requested. The buyer contacts the member and states to deposit or cash the item and send the difference back electronically. Additionally they may state the difference is for a moving company to pick up and transport the item. The member is instructed to send the difference via Western Union or MoneyGram to the moving company. The original check ends up returning and the member is left with a bad check and the merchandise they tried to sell.

TIP: Never accept payment for more than you agreed to sell the item for and make sure to have a credit union employee verify the check before depositing.

Peer-to-Peer (P2P) payment apps like Zelle, Venmo and CashApp are useful tools to pay people you know quickly and easily online. Unfortunately, fraudsters have caught on and use these apps to trick people into sending them money without sending the goods. Or even hack into your account to send money! To avoid being caught in a P2P scam, remember these tips:

  • Use additional security like Two-Factor Authentication, Facial Recognition and/or a PIN for your P2P payment app and never share your login information with anyone.
  • Only send payments to people you know and trust.
  • Avoid potentially high-risk transactions like items bought from an online bidding or sales site. Example: See Puppy Payment Scams
  • Make sure you are getting the good or service you are paying for before you send the payment. Example: Pay your hairdresser after you get the haircut.
  • Always double check that you have the person's correct user information (phone number, user handle or email address) before sending a P2P payment.
Sadly, there is little to no recourse in getting your payment back when you send it to the wrong person. But, if you remember these tips, and stay aware of current scams, you'll be ahead of the game. You can also contact the P2P company that issued the payment and report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
 

Elderly members are being targeted via the internet on dating sites. The alleged suitor spends time getting to know the victim and gaining their trust and personal information. Soon the scammer asks for money claiming a tragedy has befallen them and they need it desperately. Often they create fake online profiles and prey on the sympathy and loneliness of their victims.

TIP: Never give personal information or money to someone that you have never met. Don’t trust people on the internet even though they may have a dating profile that looks legitimate.

VCCU is a full-service, Southern California credit union with branches in Ventura, Port Hueneme, Oxnard, RiverPark, Camarillo, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley and Moorpark. If you live, work or attend school in Ventura or Santa Barbara Counties, you are eligible to join

 

 

Joining the credit union was my best choice; I love the welcoming atmosphere and the warm greetings I get from all the employees!

Ana G., Oxnard