FRAUD & SECURITY SAFETY

Security First Federal Credit Union Will Never Call You to Ask for Your Information

Security First Federal Credit Union will never call, text, or email you unprompted. If you receive a call, text, or email from someone claiming to be from Security First Federal Credit Union asking you about Zelle transfers, account information, or other personal information, hang up and contact us directly.

Know The Signs

Scammers are constantly finding new ways to steal your money. Here’s a few tips to help protect you and your family:

  • Never allow a representative from any company or individual to access your account information.
  • Never allow someone to remotely deposit checks into your account.
  • Never share your account or online and mobile banking password.
  • Never provide a return or refund via a gift card or another form of payment.
  • Do not send cash to or back to someone via the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx, or UPS.

Beware These Types Of Scams

Common Types of Fraud and Scams

Scammers are constantly finding new ways to steal your money. You can protect yourself and your family by knowing what to look out for. Here are some of the most common types of fraud and scams. Learn what to watch for and what steps to take to keep yourself, your loved ones, and your money safe.

CHARITY SCAMS

A charity scam is when a thief poses as a real charity or makes up the name of a charity that sounds real in order to get money from you. These kinds of scams often increase during the holiday season as well as around natural disasters and emergencies, such as storms, wildfires, or earthquakes.

What to do: Look up the charity through their website or a trusted third-party source to confirm that the charity is real. Learn more about how to avoid a charity scam.

DEBT COLLECTION SCAMS

Most debt collectors will contact you to collect on legitimate debts you owe. But there are scammers who pose as debt collectors to get you to pay for debts you don’t owe or ones you’ve already been paid. In most cases, a legitimate debt collector will provide you with information about the debt during or shortly after the first communication. This information may arrive as a letter often called the “validation notice.” If you don’t receive this information, you can ask for it.

What to do: Don’t provide any personal financial information until you can verify the debt. You can use this sample letter to request more information. Read more about the warning signs.

DEBT COLLECTION SCAMS THAT TARGET SURVIVORS

After someone dies, scammers may check obituaries or other legal notices and contact the deceased’s relatives, posing as a debt collector. If you receive such a contact, the scammers are trying to get your personal or financial information in order to steal your money or commit identity theft or other types of fraud.

What to do: When someone dies with an unpaid debt, it’s generally paid with money or property left in the estate.

As with other scams, always avoid giving anyone your Social Security number, birth date, or financial account numbers, unless you know who you’re dealing with. Learn more about what happens to a debt after someone dies.

FORECLOSURE RELIEF OR MORTGAGE LOAN MODIFICATION SCAMS

Foreclosure relief or mortgage loan modification scams are schemes to take your money or your house, often by making a false promise of saving you from foreclosure. Scammers may ask you to pay upfront fees for their service, guarantee a loan modification, sign over the title of your property, or sign paperwork you don’t understand.

What to do: If you are having trouble making payments on your mortgage, a HUD-approved housing counselor can help you assess your options and avoid scams. If you think you may have been a victim of a foreclosure relief scam, you may also want to consult an attorney. Read more about foreclosure relief scams.

GRANDPARENT SCAMS

If you get a call from someone who sounds like a grandchild or relative asking you to wire or transfer money or send gift cards to help them out of trouble, it could be a scam.

What to do: Read more about other ways to protect older adults from fraud and financial exploitation.

LOTTERY OR PRIZE SCAMS

In a lottery or prize scam, the scammers may call or email to tell you that you’ve won a prize through a lottery or sweepstakes and then ask you to make an upfront payment for fees and taxes. In some cases, they may claim to be from a federal government agency.

What to do: Avoid providing any personal or financial information, including credit card or Social Security numbers, to anyone you don’t know. Also, never make an upfront payment for a promised prize, especially if you are required to make immediate payment. Learn more about lottery or prize scam red flags.

MAIL FRAUD

Mail fraud letters look real but the promises are fake. A common warning sign is a letter asking you to send money or personal information now in order to receive something of value later. Examples of mail fraud might include notices of prizes, sweepstakes winnings, vacations and other offers to claim valuable items.

What to do: The USPS has identified common postal or mail fraud schemes . If you’re a victim of mail fraud, you can file a complaint through the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

ROMANCE SCAMS

A romance scam is when a new love interest tricks you into falling for them when they really just want your money. Romance scams start in a few different ways, usually online. Scammers may also spend time getting to know you and developing trust before asking you for a loan or for access to your finances.

What to do: Be smart about who you connect with and what information you share online. Don’t share sensitive personal information, such as bank account or credit card numbers or a Social Security number, with a new love connection. Learn more about how to avoid romance scams.

WIRE OR MONEY TRANSFER FRAUD

Scammers use money wire transfers to steal your money. One example of a wire transfer fraud is the “grandparent scam,” where a scammer poses as a grandchild or a friend of a grandchild and say they’re in a foreign country and need help. Once a money transfer is picked up, there is very little you can do to get your money back.

What to do: Never transfer money without making sure that the person you’re trying to help really needs your help and is who they say they are. You can do this by reaching out to the person yourself, using the contact information you have for them. If you made a money transfer to a scammer, contact the bank or company immediately and ask if it can be reversed. Learn more about wire transfer scams.

REPORTING A FRAUD AND SCAM

If you’re a victim of a scam, you can report it to the authorities by:

This content was provided by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. For the full text: https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ask-cfpb/what-are-some-common-types-of-scams-en-2092/

ADDITIONAL FRAUD RESOURCES:

Utility Scams

THREATS TO TURN OFF WATER AND POWER COULD BE THE WORK OF SCAMMERS

What you need to know about utility scams

Many basic necessities rely on utilities we take for granted. And that makes them perfect for a scammer to exploit. Like many other scams, utility scams occur when a scammer pretends to be someone they’re not. In this case, the scammer poses as a representative from your power or water company and threatens to turn off your services unless you send payment right away or provide some important personal information.

DIFFERENT APPROACHES, SAME INTENT

These scams can happen through email, over the phone, via text message, and in person. In some cases, the scammer may report you’ve overpaid for services and ask for a bank account, credit card, or utility account information to allegedly issue a refund. Your actual utility company would already have this information. What’s more likely is that the scammer is trying to get personal information to commit fraud.

Utility scams typically include an urgent notice threatening to cancel your service due to a missed payment, leaving you without heat, air conditioning, or water. Scammers use urgency to create panic and scare you into acting fast without thinking or confirming the authenticity of the situation.

People posing as utility workers may show up at your home for a fake inspection or equipment repair, investigate a supposed gas leak, or conduct a “free” audit for energy efficiency. They will try to charge you for the fake service, sell you unnecessary products, or collect personal information to use in identity theft activities.

FAST PAYMENTS WORK IN SCAMMERS’ FAVOR

Since electronic payments are a fast way to send money and often can’t be reversed, the scammer may say that they need immediate payment via bank wire, gift card or digital payment apps, like Venmo or Zelle®, to keep your utilities running. These scams are often timed for maximum urgency, such as peak heating or air conditioning seasons, or right before a big holiday celebration like Thanksgiving.

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF

Watch for these warning signs to detect a utility scam in progress:

  • An unscheduled or unsolicited call or visit from someone claiming to represent your power or water company. No matter how great the offer or frightening the situation
    sounds, decline any action until you can verify its authenticity.
  • Threats to cut off service unless an overdue bill or maintenance cost is paid immediately. Most utility companies send multiple notifications before canceling service.
  • Requests for personal account information or payment via bank wire, gift card or digital payment apps, like Venmo or Zelle®.

If you experience any of these situations, follow these steps:

  • Slow down and ask questions, like what their employee identification number is or confirm the date and amount of your most recent payment.
  • Do not respond to text or email messages threatening to turn off your utilities.
  • Call the utility company using the number on your bill or the company’s website before taking any action. Do not use a number provided by the representative.

We want to remind members to never share any codes or personal information or feel pressured to act immediately if you receive a text message, email, or a call. Security First Federal Credit Union will never ask you for your personal account information through a text messages, email, or over the phone. 

If you are unsure of a recent message or call that you may have received, please do not click any links or respond to it, and feel free to call us directly at (956) 661-4000 with any questions or concerns.

Pay Yourself Scams

SEND YOURSELF MONEY? THAT’S A BIG RED FLAG

What you need to know about Pay Yourself Scams

Scammers are always creating new ways to steal your money. One of the recent scams utilizing peer-to-peer payment services is what’s known as the “Pay Yourself Scam.” The gist of the scam is that someone pretending to be a representative from your bank or credit union tells you that there has been a fraudulent transaction and in order to stop it, you need to send yourself money with Zelle®. That sense of urgency really works in their favor and gets unsuspecting consumers to act immediately.

THE BEST WAY TO AVOID THIS SCAM IS TO KNOW WHAT TO LOOK FOR. HERE’S HOW IT UNFOLDS:

  • It starts with a text message from a scammer that looks like a fraud alert from your bank or credit union. It’s looks real and urgent!
  • If you respond to the text message and engage the scammer, you’ll receive a call from a number that may appear to be your bank or credit union.
  • The scammer pretends to be calling from your bank or credit union and offers to stop the alleged fraud by directing you to send yourself money with Zelle®.
  • In reality, the scammer is tricking you into sending money to their bank account.

HOW THE SCAM WORKS

So how are the scammers diverting money to their account?

When you enroll with Zelle® initially or if you switch your enrolled U.S. mobile number or email address to a different account, your bank sends you a security code to verify your identity. In this scam, the fraudster pretends to be calling from your bank or credit union saying that they need this passcode to authorize your payment to yourself. That should be a big red flag to you. Your bank will NEVER ask you for this security code, nor will they ask you to send money to yourself.

If the scammer gets the one-time passcode, they can link their bank account to your U.S. mobile number or email address. Now the money you thought you were sending to yourself is sent directly to their bank account.

STAYING SAFE IN A WORLD OF SCAMMERS

How can you avoid being tricked? Always keep these tips front of mind:

  • Never discuss account numbers, PINs, or other personal information with anyone who contacts you, even if they say they are from your bank or credit union.
  • If the person claiming a problem with your account needs your account information, hang up and call the bank yourself.
  • Don’t call the number in a text, email, or voice mail. It will connect you directly with the scammers. Always look up the number online or review the number listed on your debit or credit card.
  • Don’t click on text message links from people you don’t know, even if it’s pretending to be your bank or credit union. These links can be deceiving and direct you to a fraudulent site or expose your device to malware.
  • Your bank or credit union will never ask you to send money to yourself (or anyone else)! If you detect suspicious activity regarding Zelle®, hang up and contact your bank or credit union directly at the number listed on the back of your bank-issued debit card, in your banking app, or on their official website.

To learn about other scams and ways to protect yourself, visit zellepay.com/pay-it-safe.

If you are unsure of a recent message or call that you may have received, please do not click any links or respond to it, and feel free to call us directly at (956) 661-4000 with any questions or concerns.

Marketplace Scams

ONLINE MARKETPLACE SCAMS TARGET BOTH BUYERS AND SELLERS

Whether you’re looking for a houseplant, a coffee table, or a new gaming console, online marketplaces can be great places to start. But be careful. Anonymous listings and virtual transactions are ripe for online marketplace scams, which can take a variety of forms.

YOU MAY NOT GET WHAT YOU PAID FOR

If you pay in advance for something you have not seen in person, the item may not arrive as advertised. In fact, it may not arrive at all. A picture of a cute puppy or designer jewelry is easy to post in a marketplace, but if you pay without knowing the seller personally or seeing the product, the seller can take your money and disappear.

PAYMENT TYPE MATTERS

Pay attention to listings that insist on an unusual payment method, such as gift cards. Gift card numbers are hard to trace, so if you don’t get what you paid for and the seller’s profile has disappeared from the marketplace, it will be very difficult to track them down or get your money back. Also, keep in mind that with many digital payment methods, once you send a payment, it often can’t be reversed, making it even more important that you know who you are dealing with and what you are buying.

SCAMS TARGETING SELLERS

While many people are aware of scams targeting buyers on marketplace sites, sellers can get scammed too. One tactic is for scammers to fake payment receipts or confirmations with an amount that’s higher than the asking price. The supposed buyer may claim to have purchased a product above your listed price and request a refund without actually having placed an order.

Another marketplace scam growing in popularity involves a fake email appearing to be from Zelle®, claiming that a transaction cannot be completed until your Zelle® account is upgraded.

In reality, the scammer is tricking you into paying them for an upgrade that doesn’t exist. Zelle® does not offer account upgrades.

WARNING SIGNS – WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Unreasonably Low Prices

Sometimes an incredibly low price is literally too good to be true. In most instances, it’s best to pass on this type of offer unless you can inspect the product in person and ensure its authenticity.

Sales Pressure

If the seller creates a sense of urgency by warning that the item won’t last long or many others are interested, take your time and think it through. Creating urgency is a technique to get you to act on impulse instead of logic, and it could lead you to overlook something suspicious.

Fake Profiles

Keep an eye out for telltale signs of a false profile, like a generic profile picture, only one friend or connection, or a profile name that does not match the name or email address on the invoice.

Slow Down, Ask Questions

When it comes to making safe marketplace purchases, remember to slow down and ask questions. If you detect suspicious activity, report the user to your marketplace platform.

To learn about other scams and ways to protect yourself, visit zellepay.com/pay-it-safe.

If you are unsure of a recent message or call that you may have received, please do not click any links or respond to it, and feel free to call us directly at (956) 661-4000 with any questions or concerns.

Person-to-Person (P2P) Payment Scams

TARGETING SCAM TYPES BY AGE

Learning about scams that target different age groups is crucial to protect ourselves and our loved ones from falling victim to fraudsters. For example, seniors are often targeted with scams related to healthcare, social security, and investment schemes, while young adults may be targeted with job scams, fake online shopping websites, and phishing emails. It’s important to stay informed and educate ourselves on how to spot and avoid these scams. This can include regularly checking our credit reports, being cautious of unsolicited phone calls and emails, and keeping our personal information safe. By staying vigilant and informed, we can protect ourselves and our family members from falling prey to scams.


AGE 17 AND YOUNGER

Social media scams

Social media is used by scammers to steal information through fake surveys, events or contests. They may also try posing as an unknown person trying to befriend teens with the intention of stealing personal information or taking their money.

Tip: Make sure teens set social media accounts to private so information and pictures are not easily accessible. It is important to talk to them about the risks of sharing personal or account information with someone they do not know.

Cellphone freebies

Scammers will lure teens through social media with “free” ring tones, wallpapers, gift cards or other items so that they opt into their services. These services often have hidden, expensive monthly subscriptions that youth bankers oftentimes don’t realize they’re subscribing to.

Tip: Talk to your teens about how to research companies and that they should never share information by creating an account or opting into free trials that require payment information upfront.

Online auctions

Teens are tricked into bidding and paying for items that never arrive. Alternatively, scammers trick teens into sending items to sell but never receive their payment, or the auction never takes place.

Tip: Help your teen learn how to research any company or auction site thoroughly before participating in the biddings to make sure it’s legitimate. Help them to review and monitor transactions that you have approved.


STUDENTS AND YOUNG ADULTS: AGE 18-29

Online Income scams

Scammers hook their victims with the promise that they’ll earn quick and easy money right from their home. To apply, they must either send payment for the application or they’re sent a fraudulent check and required to transfer a portion of the check to the company.

Tip: Walk away from any job offers that require you to pay money upfront.

Debt-Related scams

Scammers reach out to individuals who may be enticed by the promise that they can get their debts reduced or forgiven – for a one-time fee.

Tip: Reputable lenders will not require upfront payment. If they charge a fee, it will be deducted from the loan amount.

Fake Sale Listing scams

Goods, services and housing are listed on job or community boards for very low prices that seem too good to be true. Once the victim sends payment, what was promised never arrives or never existed.

Tip: Research companies that make offers that are too good to be true and never give out any personal information or send payments to anyone you do not know.


ADULTS AND PARENTS: AGE 30-59

Property Foreclosure Rescue scams

Posing as lenders, loan servicers, etc., scammers will promise to refinance property at a better rate or stop a foreclosure. However, they’ll ask for a steep upfront payment or trick victims into signing documents that transfer the property to predatory companies.

Tip: Be wary of “lenders” who pressure you to act fast into deciding quickly or say they can guarantee stopping a foreclosure. Always research companies thoroughly.

Debt Collection scams

Scammers posing as law enforcement or debt collectors try to collect a debt that’s not actually owed. They may go as far as threatening jail or even violence to receive payment but refuse to show any written proof of the debt.

Tip: Do not offer any kind of financial information to anyone calling to collect a debt unless you initiate contact first.

Lending scams

Like an upfront fee scam, lending scams happen when a victim thinks they’re applying for a loan through an online lender or lender app. Scammers entice victims with guaranteed approval even with bad or no credit but require paying upfront fees as “insurance” or for “processing fees.”

Tip: Be cautious of any lenders who claim to guarantee a loan approval. Reputable lenders will have a set of requirements they abide by.


OLDER ADULTS AND GRANDPARENTS: AGE 60+

Government Impersonation scams

Scammers use scare tactics to force individuals to wire money, send a prepaid credit card, gift cards or cashier’s check by pretending that they’re a trusted individual from a government agency like the Social Security Administration or the IRS.

Tip: Any government agency will first contact you through the mail, never by phone or email.

The Grandparent scam

Scammers trick the victim by pretending to be family, a bail bondsman or an emergency service, notifying that their grandchildren are in dire need of money. They ask for funds to be sent through person-to-person payments or wire transfers.

Tip: Do not answer phone calls from numbers that you don’t recognize; let the call go to voicemail. Use a separate source such as the internet or a reverse phone lookup search engine to verify the company. Companies will not call or email you and ask for a cash payment to help a relative.

Counterfeit Prescription Drug scam

Scammers entice the elderly with promises of prescription drugs or “miracle” drugs that can cure certain ailments at a majorly discounted rate but oftentimes the medication never arrives.

Tip: If purchasing prescriptions online, make sure they’re approved by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. It is best to always consult your physician.

Additional Fraud and Identity Theft Resources

Identity Theft: What to Know, What to Do (English) (Spanish)


How to Spot and Avoid Foreclosure Relief Scams (English) (Spanish)


Check Your Credit at Least Once a Year (English) (Spanish)


Warning Signs of Identity Theft


When Information is Lost or Exposed

Fight Fraud Tip Videos

Our library of Fraud Tip Videos, presented by our knowledgeable and experienced staff, will provide you with the confidence to identify and prevent fraudulent activities.

Additional Fraud Tips