Published on November 17, 2022
Be Aware and Prepared Out There
Community Choice Credit Union’s priority is to safeguard members' data. We work hard to prevent, or quickly detect, fraud in all its forms. Member awareness and diligence are also important parts of fraud prevention; When scammers do their dirty work, they hope to catch you off guard and unprepared to fend off the attack. These scams come through a variety of avenues, including phone, text, email, websites, mail, online chat, and more. Let’s get ahead of the storm by looking at some recent scams, plus a few tips and tricks to help protect you.
Scam #1: Student Loan Forgiveness
In August 2022, the United States government announced the Student Loan Debt Relief Plan. This initiative provides loan forgiveness to certain borrowers with loans held by the U.S. Department of Education. While this plan offers welcome relief for those with challenging student loan balances, it also provides a path for fraudsters to apply their antics.
If anyone contacts you offering entrance into the Federal Student Loan Forgiveness program, your scam senses should kick in. These offers are not legitimate. Scammers may try to persuade you into providing payment to access the debt relief program, but that offer doesn’t reflect reality. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations, “entrance into or assistance with any federal student aid program through the Department of Education or their trusted partners never requires payment.”*
Scammers may also use the new Student Loan Debt Relief Plan to manipulate you into providing personal information, including Social Security Number, previous addresses, your mother’s maiden name, etc. Once they acquire this personal data, the fraudsters may attempt to use this information in a variety of dishonest activities. Keep that information to yourself.
Scam #2: Government Impersonators
“Just be yourself” is generally good advice, but bad guys specialize in doing the opposite! Some scammers pretend to be someone else to convince victims to take certain actions. Recently, these impersonators have been contacting some members pretending to be government officials. They use this fake authority in a threat to arrest or prosecute the victims unless they make payment. The payment request can come in many forms, including cash via Fed Ex, Bitcoin, wire transfers to other countries, gift cards, etc.
High pressure tactics and quick payment deadlines can make victims inadvertently fall for these schemes. These can be stressful situations, but taking a moment to consider the details may help you determine these are fraudulent requests. As you know, no government official asks for payment with these types of monetary instruments.
Tips & Tricks To Help Keep You Safe
Staying vigilant and aware of how scammers operate can help keep you safe. The FBI makes these recommendations:
Search online for the contact information (name, email, phone number, addresses) and the proposed offer. Other people have likely posted information online about individuals and businesses trying to run scams.
Resist the pressure to act quickly. Scammers create a sense of urgency to produce fear and lure victims into immediate action. Call the police immediately if you feel there is a danger to yourself or a loved one.
Never give or send any personally identifiable information, money, jewelry, gift cards, checks, or wire information to unverified people or businesses.
If you believe you have been a victim of a scam, report it at the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center.