Financial fraud comes in many forms, but the goal is always the same: to illegally gain access to your finances. It can happen to anyone, so if you’re a credit union member in Pennsylvania, it’s important to be vigilant and understand what to do if you or your loved one is the victim of a scam. Read on for more information.
What Is Financial Fraud?
Financial fraud is any type of deceptive or misleading activity that results in the loss of money or property. Financial fraud can be committed by individuals or businesses. These are some common examples:
- Identity theft: This happens when someone uses your personal information without your permission in order to open new accounts, make charges on existing accounts, or commit other crimes.
- Telemarketing scams: These are phone calls from scammers who try to get you to give them money directly or provide them with sensitive information like your credit card number.
- Investment fraud: Investment scams are schemes in which scammers defraud investors by promising them unrealistic returns on their investments. They might even commit accounting fraud to misrepresent the value of the business they want investments for.
- Cryptocurrency scams: Crypto scams are a form of finance scam that involves digital currency, known as cryptocurrency. Be on the lookout for phishing: emails or messages designed to get access to your digital wallet or other accounts, sometimes through a fraudulent link.
How to Identify Financial Fraud
There are a few key signs that you’re possibly being targeted by financial fraudsters:
- Unexpected calls, emails, or text messages from unknown numbers or email addresses asking for personal information such as Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, or credit card numbers
- Communications that threaten legal action if you don’t immediately make a payment
- Requests for money transfers via wire transfer or cryptocurrency
- Unexpected lottery or prize winnings that require payment up front in order to collect
- Job offers that require payment for training materials upfront
If you receive any type of communication like this, do not reply and do not provide any personal information. Credit unions and banks will never unexpectedly contact you to ask for personal information on the phone.
It’s also important to watch for changes in your credit report. You should check your credit report regularly and report any suspicious activity right away.
What to Do If You Experience Financial Fraud
If you believe that you’ve been the victim of financial fraud, there are several steps you should take right away:
- Contact your credit union or bank and let them know what happened. They may be able to help you cancel any fraudulent transactions and put a stop on your account.
- File a police report. This will create a record of what happened and may be helpful if you need to take legal action against the person who defrauded you.
- Report directly to the Federal Trade Commission. This will alert law enforcement across the country to the activity and may help prevent further scams.
- Place a fraud alert on your credit report. To do this, contact the three major credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. This will make it more difficult for someone to open new accounts in your name.
- Keep copies of everything related to the fraud, including emails, text messages, and letters, as well as any documentation you have about your financial accounts before and after the fraudulent activity took place. This evidence will be helpful if you decide to pursue legal action against the person who defrauded you.
No one deserves to be the victim of financial fraud, but defending clients from financial crime is one of the reasons financial organizations exist. When it comes to financial fraud, your credit union is your ally.