Some easy ways to protect yourself from fraud are to keep anything with your personal or account information in a safe place, provide your information only to trusted sources and reduce the amount of mail you receive with personal information.
To learn more about identity theft and protecting yourself, view the "What is Identity Theft?" module in our Wellness Center, download the Zogo Financial Education App, or choose one of the topics below to learn more:
Palmetto Citizens will never contact you by phone, text or email to solicit personal information. If any person or electronic media does so and claims to be from PCFCU, please contact us immediately.
- Social Media Shopping Scams
- Phone, Text & Email Scams
- Credit Report Review
- Debit/Credit Card Skimming
- Document Shredding
- Account Monitoring & Alerts
- Password Safety
- Opting Out of Credit Offers
- Fake Check Scams
- Common Elder Financial Abuse Scams
- Payment App Scams
- If You Fall Victim to Identity Theft
During the holiday season, beware of common scams popping up all over social media designed to steal your money or card information. If you see an incredible deal or hard-to-find item showing up in your Facebook, TikTok, or Instagram feed, proceed with caution!
These ads or posts may direct you to an online store that is fake, even if it looks legitimate. They are targeting consumers looking for price discounts or hard-to-find items but will only steal your debit/credit information or you'll end up paying for something you'll never receive.
To protect yourself this holiday season, or any time of year:
- Be cautious of deals too good to be true. If a deal seems extraordinarily good, stay skeptical. Research the company thoroughly before you buy.
- Shop with reputable companies. It's always best to shop with companies you already know and trust.
- Do your research. If you come across an appealing item from an unfamiliar company, it's especially important to do research. Look up their website, physical address, and contact information. Read reviews on third-party websites and comments left on their social media pages. You can also search the company name and the word "scam" just to be safe.
- Make payments with your credit card. When shopping online, use your credit card to pay. Controlling fraudulent charges (and possibly getting your money back) will be much easier with this payment method.
Tens of thousands of fraudulent phone calls, emails and texts go out every day asking people to provide, confirm or update personal or financial information. Protect yourself and never respond, provide any information or click any links.
Fraud is constantly evolving, so please always be on guard for anything that seems suspicious. The goal of criminals who engineer these types of attacks is to get your personal and/or financial data so they can gain access to your account(s) and/or steal your identity.
Please note, Palmetto Citizens will never contact you and ask you provide your account information, such as a card number, PIN, CVV code, One Time Password, or online banking login information. If any person or electronic media does so and claims to be from Palmetto Citizens, please do not provide any personal information.
Phone Number Spoofing: Be aware fraudsters can spoof any phone number to make it appear to be from Palmetto Citizens, or any company. Be suspicious of any call received from an unknown number and don't assume the number shown on caller ID is valid.
- If the caller is a live person, ask if you can call them back to verify the number being provided. If they're spoofing a legitimate number, the fraudster will not be able to answer if you call back, the actual company will receive the call.
- If the call is an automated recording requesting account information, do not provide any data, hang up, and call the organization being represented.
Should you have any questions or you feel you have been targeted by fraudulent activity, contact us immediately.
It is important you understand the information on your credit report because it directly impacts your ability to obtain a credit card, buy a car or home, rent an apartment or even get a job. You should review it for accuracy, and for protection from fraud or identity theft.
You can get a free credit report from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) every 12 months. Some consumers elect to get one report every four months, providing a staggered look at their credit status. Through December 2023, you can now get your free credit report online weekly from each of the three reporting agencies.
www.annualcreditreport.com is the only authorized online source for you to get a free credit report under federal law. You may also receive your free credit report by calling 1-877-322-8228.
Credit and debit card skimming is on the rise across the country and one of the leading causes of card fraud locally.
Thieves install electronic skimmers over card readers on ATMs, gas pumps, etc. along with small cameras or keypad overlays to record PINs. They come back later to remove the devices and access the card data collected.
Protect yourself and be alert! Check a card reader before inserting your card. Pull on or jiggle it - fraudulent devices are usually easy to move/remove; valid ones won't be. If you detect a skimmer, remove it and call law enforcement immediately.
Someone can steal your identity and rack up thousands of dollars against you just by going through your trash. You should buy a cross-cut shredder and use it often! Palmetto Citizens also hosts a series of no-cost shredding events for our community.
To help protect yourself, consider shredding any unneeded documents, including junk mail, containing personal information, such as: Social Security Numbers, account numbers, passwords/PINS, birth dates, signatures or contact information (names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses).
To help protect your accounts from fraudulent activity, you should monitor them regularly by logging in online or viewing your account statement. If you see any unauthorized activity, contact the financial institution or company immediately.
You should also consider establishing text and/or email alerts on your accounts to help stay up-to-date on any activity. To set up alerts for your Palmetto Citizens account(s), log into online or mobile banking and choose 'Alerts & Notices' from the menu. You can establish alerts based on transactions, balances and more.
In addition, make sure your phone numbers, mailing addresses and email addresses are current with all your accounts so they can contact you should they detect any fraudulent activity. To verify your information with Palmetto Citizens, log into your account online or with our app and choose 'Settings' from the menu.
You should log into your online banking, email and other online accounts regularly and change your passwords every few months. Always use strong passwords which are difficult to guess and avoid using the same password for multiple accounts.
To make sure you have a strong password, you should use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. You should always avoid using obvious personal information, such as: birthdays, anniversaries, addresses, child or pet names, etc.
Never give out your passwords to anyone or leave them written down next to your computer or anywhere someone can find them.
You can remove your name from any list compiled by a credit reporting agency that can be sold and used for pre-approved credit offers. To opt out, visit www.optoutprescreen.com or call (888) 5OPTOUT or (888) 567-8688. This website and phone number can be used to remove your name from all three agencies. You may also visit each agency's website for their individual instructions.
There is no legitimate reason why anyone would give you a check or money order and ask you to send money anywhere in return. If that is the deal, it is a scam.
Phony sweepstakes, lotteries and grants, work-at-home schemes, foreign business deals and other scams are not new and do not always involve fake checks – sometimes the crooks simply ask you to send money. However, using realistic-looking checks or money orders makes their stories more convincing.
Fraud is constantly evolving, so be on guard for anything that seems suspicious. Since money sent to crooks is often gone forever, STOP, THINK, and GET ADVICE first from your state or local consumer protection agency.
To learn more about this topic, view the Scams Targeting Seniors module in our Wellness Center.
Financial exploitation is a fast-growing form of abuse targeted at senior citizens. According to the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA), about one in 20 older adults experienced some form of perceived financial mistreatment but only one in 44 cases are ever reported.
Financial abuse can take many forms. Statistics show the majority of these types of crimes against senior citizens are carried out by relatives or someone in a trusting relationship with the victim, but scams by strangers are also very common.
Below are some of these types of scams aimed at older Americans you should be familiar with to help protect yourself or your loved ones:
- Health Care Scams: A scammer calls and poses as a Medicare or insurance company representative. They will make up a story and ask for Social Security or insurance numbers.
- Home Improvement Scams: Someone will claim to be a contractor and attempt to coerce the victim into making a large pre‐payment for home repairs. The work is either poorly done or never finished.
- Person-in-Need Scams: Scammers prey on victims’ emotional vulnerability by claiming to be a loved one who needs money quickly to help with an emergency.
- Prize/Lottery Scams: Scammers coerce their victims into sending an “import tax” or “fee” in order to receive the money they have supposedly won in a lottery.
- Romance Scams: Con artists establish a romantic relationship with their victims (online or in person) and then request money for “hardships” they experience, or to “visit” the victim (but never do).
Review the following tips to help prevent yourself and others in your life from becoming a victim of financial exploitation:
- Talk about your finances. Generally, those who talk about their finances to financial professionals or trusted family and/or friends feel better equipped to prevent elder financial abuse than those who don’t.
- Exercise caution when providing financial or other personal information over the phone or Internet, and resist pressure to give someone money, personal information or access to your financial accounts.
- Always ask for more information in writing and get a second opinion before changing your power of attorney, wills, trusts or any of your personal financial information.
- Report any wrongdoing. If you're convinced someone is scamming you or your loved one out of their money, contact your financial institution or Adult Protective Services immediately and file a report with your local police department.
Should you have any questions or you feel you have been targeted by fraudulent activity, contact us immediately.
Peer-to-Peer (P2P) mobile payment services, such as Cash App, Venmo and Zelle have become popular solutions for consumers. However, these apps do not come without risk, and are not immune to scams and fraudulent activity. We know how convenient these apps can be, and want our members to use them safely. Here are some things to keep in mind if you're using any P2P payment service:
- Only send payments to people who you trust.
- Verify and double-check all recipient information before sending any payment to confirm you're sending money to the correct person.
- Check the other person's profile to help determine if it's the correct person.
- Don’t send money to someone promising something in the future (like free money in return, for example).
- Set up security features in the app, such as using a PIN/fingerprint/facial recognition to make transactions, turning on two factor authentication, and utilizing email and text notifications so you'll be notified of any suspicious behavior.
Basically, if someone is promising something that sounds too good to be true, then it is almost certainly a scam. What scammers do, by and large, is promise you something, take your money, and then never deliver on what they promised. Here are a few common payment app scams to help you avoid them:
- Customer Support Scams: There's usually no direct phone number for support with these apps so if have an issue, you need to contact support through the app. Fraudsters take advantage of this and set up fake websites claiming to be, for example, Cash App support, and list a phone number not associated with the app. So, unknowing customers might search for a phone number and come across a site that appears to be support for Cash App users, but is really a scam.
- Payment Claiming Scams: Sometimes scammers will ask people to “claim” a payment that they “deserve” by sending money to them. These payment-claiming attempts are always scams. Never send money to another person expecting a larger payment in return. If someone is promising you free money in return for sending them a payment, it is a scam. There is no such thing as “claiming” a payment by sending money through any payment app.
- Pet Deposit Scams: Scammers will claim to have an upcoming litter and request a deposit to secure one of the puppies or kittens. These scammers usually post fake photos, won’t communicate by phone, and offer purebred animals at an extremely low price. Since these apps generally cannot guarantee a refund if you don't receive what you pay for, it’s safer to send money once you meet the buyer in-person and receive whatever has been promised to you.
- Apartment / Home Rental Deposit Scams: Scammers often promise a good or service without ever providing proof it actually exists. This includes promising to find you a cheap apartment, or offering a rental at a much lower rate than normal, but requiring you to send a deposit first before touring the prospective rental. If you can’t verify who someone is or the legitimacy of what they are offering, it’s probably a scam.
What to Do If You Sent Money to a Scammer: If you send money to a scammer, report the scam to the mobile payment app and ask them to reverse the transaction right away. Should you have any questions or you feel you have been targeted by fraudulent activity on your Palmetto Citizens account, contact us immediately.
If someone has stolen your identity, the Federal Trade Commission recommends that you take the following actions immediately:
- Contact each of the major credit bureaus. Tell them to flag your file with a fraud alert and statement that creditors should get your permission before opening any new accounts. Credit bureaus must also give you a free copy of your report if it is inaccurate due to fraud. Review your reports carefully to make sure no additional fraudulent accounts have been opened or unauthorized changes made to your existing accounts.
- Contact the creditors for any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. Ask to speak with someone in the fraud department, and follow up in writing.
- File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place. Keep a copy in case your creditors need proof of the crime.