How to Outsmart Online Fraud

At Ironworkers USA Credit Union, we believe it’s our job to have your back and help you look out for your money. We’ve seen an uptick in our members getting scammed. Members are authorizing payments (putting their account numbers into fraudulent websites or apps) and unfortunately Ironworkers USA Credit Union can’t get the money back, even if it’s a scam. It’s time for us all to get smart and stop the theft.

Fraudsters not only take your money, but money out of the pockets of your fellow ironworkers. Let’s work together to protect all of our hard-earned money.

Here are some real-world examples of the latest fraud and easy tips to prevent it in the first place.

1. “The website looked real.”

Buying things online can be tricky. Fraudsters are getting more and more deceptive. Our members are searching up the best deals, or a site pops up on social media that looks legit, and they order without making sure it’s a real site. The most common fraud we’re seeing is when members are trying to change their address with USPS. The real USPS does not charge for address changes, but this particular website is charging $149.99 to update an address. When our members pay for it, they’re money is gone for good and they’ve been scammed.

How to Protect Yourself:

  • Don’t click on pop-up ads.
  • Look at the address bar. If anything is mispelled, that’s a sign it could be a fake site. Also, look to see if there’s a padlock icon to the far right of the URL. Some sites use these to verify they’re a certified site.
  • Take a close look at the website. Look for a “TrustedSite” certification seal on the website to verify it’s real site.
  • Check out the “Contact Info” for the business to make sure it’s a legitimate location and there’s a phone number and email for questions.
  • Go to social media to see if they have a page to verify the business.

Search for the site using the Google Transparency Report.

2. “I thought I was sending money to my friend.”

Money transfer apps like Cash App, Venmo, or Zelle are so convenient, but you’ve got to make sure you know who you’re sending money to. Members think they’re sending to a friend or family member and it’s the wrong person. Or they’re buying online and never receive the merchandise. Remember, you’re moving money at your own risk. Purchasing with these apps is just like using cash, so once the money is sent, it’s gone.

How to Protect Yourself:

  • Don’t use money transfer apps to purchase items online.
  • Know and trust the seller.
  • Double-check the person’s username, phone, address you’re sending money to.
  • Be wary of businesses asking for gift card payments.
  • Opt-in for extra security features within the app.

3. “I just needed some cash real quick.”

Card skimming has become even harder to detect. Thieves tamper with ATMs by putting devices over the card reader along with hidden cameras to read the PIN. We’ve seen our members getting hit hard when using stand-alone ATMs (commonly at 7-Eleven stores) and gas stations along the I-5 corridor the past few months. Their card numbers and PIN are stolen and used for purchases. Fortunately, we can help recover these charges as they were not authorized by the member.

How to Protect Yourself:

  • Avoid using stand-alone ATMs, where the machine is not connected to a banking institution.
  • Gently pull the card reader and pin pad to see if it’s been tampered with. If it jiggles, pops off, or is sticky, don’t use it. If the colors or lights look different than the rest of the machine, avoid it. Some gas pumps have a security seal over the portion that controls the card reader. The seal will say “void” if the door has been opened.
  • Don’t use a machine if there’s anyone hanging around it with no purpose and report it to the merchant. Make sure to be discrete when typing your PIN into the pad.
  • Monitor your bank account for fraudulent charges and let us know immediately if your number has been stolen.

4. “They said I had an overdue bill.”

Scammers are professional imposters. Some fraudsters even “spoof” Ironworkers USA Credit Union’s phone number so when they call you, it looks like the credit union is calling you. Or hackers will send emails to trick you into revealing financial information or login data by asking you to click on a link. Sometimes they’ll call claiming you’ve won money. No matter the scenario, they will eventually start asking for highly sensitive information, like your account numbers, passwords, social security, or date of birth. These are called “phishing scams” and are all red flags. Ironworkers USA Credit Union will not reach out via phone asking for sensitive information. We usually verify by your book number.

How to Protect Yourself:

  • Know who you’re talking to. Make them verify who they are by asking them to tell you which branch they’re located at or who the CEO is or by getting their phone number and calling them back.
  • When in doubt, don’t share any information, especially via email or text. Hang up, and call us directly at 877-769-4766.
  • Make sure you actually have an account with the institution contacting you.
  • Be wary of a sense of urgency. Legitimate organziations will not contact you by email or phone threatening you.
  • If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Don’t click on email links you don’t recognize or open attachments from people you don’t know.


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