Jazmin Garcia, Community Relations Officer, San Diego County Credit Union
Throughout the pandemic, the shift to digitization has caused an increase in scams. San Diego County Credit Union wants to make sure that you are aware of current scams and know how to protect yourself if the situation arises. SDCCU posts current scams and warnings at sdccu.com/scams, so be sure to visit and bookmark it for reference.
1. Texts & Calls:
Never click on links you receive via an unrecognized or unsolicited text because scammers send these as a means to access your data on your phone. The first tip to avoid a scam is to call the company’s number and inform the representative that you have received an unfamiliar message. Another best practice is to save the numbers of trusted contacts on your phone. If an unfamiliar number is calling to request personal information over the phone, end the call and call the company directly to verify the legitimacy of the call. Companies will not ask you for your username, password, or one-time passcode over the phone.
2. COVID-19 Vaccines:
Scammers are taking advantage of the mass distribution of COVID-19 vaccines by offering fake appointments in exchange for a fee. You should only exchange personal information with your trusted physician. The FBI issued a warning urging people to be cautious when opening emails and texts from unknown senders who promise information on getting a vaccine. Contact your doctor or county’s website for updated vaccine and coronavirus information.
3. Federal Stimulus:
Scammers are also attempting to exploit individuals with fake stimulus calls and texts. The IRS will not contact you by phone, email, text or social media to verify your Social Security Number, bank account or credit card information. Scammers are exploiting individuals by promoting faster payment in return for your personal information. Scammers conduct their scam in person, through social media, and emails. Do not respond to these types of messages, instead go directly to the IRS website for stimulus information.
4. Online & Emails:
Always use a secured network when browsing online through the internet and do not save passwords or credit card information, especially on websites that are not secure or that you are unfamiliar with. Scammers use pop-ups and unrecognized emails to bait victims into clicking links that could grant access to victims’ personal information. Emails could be coming from scammers posing as these organizations and once you click the links, you are giving them complete access to your phone or computer.
If you receive a letter from a company that you do not recognize requesting a medical payment, bill payment or update on personal information, do not call the number on the notice, especially if you suspect it may be an error or scam. Always go to the main website of the company that sent you the letter and use that number to speak with a representative and verify that the letter you received is valid. Scammers also use prize letters to manipulate individuals into thinking they won a prize, whether it be money, a trip or a car. The letter will often tell you that all you need to do is call and provide some additional information to claim your prize. DO NOT CALL, especially if you haven’t entered a raffle or contest.
6. Romance Scams:
The increasing popularity of online dating has increased of scammers. Scammers use fake profiles to strike up conversations with people on dating and social media websites to build trust and will eventually make up a story and ask for money. Often the ask is to purchase a return airplane ticket, to pay off debts, to pay for surgery or other medical expenses. If you think it’s a scam, report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. Share this information with friends and family to help protect them from scams like this.
7. Money Mule Scams:
A money mule scam is when someone sends money to you and asks you to send a portion of it to someone else. Scammers will use this method to ask you to purchase gift cards and send money from an illegal source. Do not be a middleman. Do not let someone funnel money into your account for you to send it to others.
These are some key tips to be aware of when receiving unknown messages, calls, texts, etc. SDCCU posts current scams and warnings at sdccu.com/scams, so please be sure to visit that site and bookmark it for reference. Also, share this with family and friends to help keep them protected.