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Protecting Yourself from Fraud

Stay Alert: Understanding Fraud

Fraudulent activities are a year-round concern, with scammers constantly finding new ways to deceive people. These fraudulent schemes range from sophisticated phishing attempts to creating fake websites, preying on everyday transactions and interactions.

Being informed and proactive is essential in understanding and combating fraud. Vigilance is key, and it can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to these scams. In the sections that follow, we delve into common types of scams, how to recognize them, and best practices to safeguard your personal information and finances. Awareness is your primary defense against fraudsters. With the right knowledge and tools, you can ensure your personal and financial security is maintained throughout the year.

  • Phishing Emails: These deceptive emails mimic legitimate sources to steal personal information, often luring victims with enticing offers or urgent messages requiring immediate action.

  • Charity Scams: Exploiting people's generosity, scammers create fake charities or impersonate real ones, tricking individuals into donating to causes where the funds never reach those in need.

  • Online Shopping Fraud: The increase in online shopping has led to a rise in fake websites and ads offering popular items at unusually low prices, often resulting in no delivery or counterfeit products.

  • Gift Card Scams: Exercise caution when purchasing gift cards from unofficial sources, as they may be part of a scam or already depleted. Scammers also use gift cards to trick victims into paying for non-existent services or debts.

  • Travel Scams: Scammers offer unrealistically attractive travel packages, aiming to extract money or personal information from individuals planning trips.

Staying informed about these common scams is a crucial step in protecting yourself throughout the year.

  • Check Email Addresses: Be cautious of emails from unknown or suspicious addresses. Look for subtle misspellings or domain changes in email addresses that pretend to be from reputable companies.

  • Evaluate Offers: If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Beware of offers that promise high rewards for little or no investment, especially if they pressure you to act quickly.

  • Secure Websites: Before entering any personal information, ensure the website is secure. Look for a padlock icon near the website address and check that the URL starts with "https://" instead of "http://".

  • Unsolicited Contacts: Be wary of unsolicited phone calls, texts, or emails asking for personal information or money, especially if they use high-pressure tactics or create a sense of urgency.

  • Payment Methods: Scammers often ask for payments through untraceable methods like wire transfers, cryptocurrency, or gift cards. Legitimate businesses usually offer secure and traceable payment options.

  • Grammar and Spelling: Poor grammar and spelling in emails or on websites can be a red flag for a scam.

  • Update Software Regularly: Ensure your computer and mobile devices are up-to-date with the latest security patches and antivirus software.

  • Use Strong Passwords: Create complex passwords and change them regularly. Consider using a password manager for added security.

  • Verify Charities and Online Stores: Before donating or purchasing, research to confirm the legitimacy of charities and online retailers. Look for reviews and check for accreditation.

  • Be Cautious with Personal Information: Share personal information sparingly and only on secure, trusted websites.

  • Enable Two-Factor Authentication: Use two-factor authentication for an extra layer of security on your online accounts.

  • Monitor Financial Statements: Regularly check your bank and credit card statements for any unauthorized transactions.

  • Educate Yourself and Others: Stay informed about the latest scams and share this knowledge with friends and family.

  • Trust Your Instincts: If something feels off, it's better to err on the side of caution. Take time to verify the authenticity of offers, emails, or requests.

Action Checklist:

Update your devices and software

Review and strengthen your passwords

Research charities and online stores before engaging

Limit sharing of personal info

Activate two-factor authentication on important accounts

Regularly check your financial statements

Stay informed about new scams

  1. Contact Your Bank or Credit Card Provider:

    • Immediately inform your bank or credit card provider about any unauthorized transactions. Ask to freeze or secure your accounts.
  2. Change Your Passwords:

    • Update passwords for your online accounts, especially if you suspect your personal information has been compromised.
  3. Monitor Your Credit Reports:

    • Regularly check your credit reports for any unusual activities. Consider placing a fraud alert on your credit files.
  4. Notify Other Affected Parties:

    • If the scam involved your personal information, alert other institutions like your healthcare provider or insurance company.
  5. Keep Records:

    • Document all communications related to the scam, including emails, phone calls, and online messages.
  6. Stay Vigilant:

    • Continue monitoring your accounts and personal information for any further suspicious activities.

Remember: Acting promptly can help minimize the damage and increase the chances of recovering lost funds or preventing further fraud.

  1. Scam Calls Spoofing Our Phone Number:

    • Situation: We've identified a scam where fraudsters are impersonating our credit union by spoofing our phone number, (304-348-6648). They use this to deceive members into inadvertently assisting them in making unauthorized debit card transactions.
    • How It Works: The scammer compromises a debit/credit card and attempts a purchase. If our fraud team blocks this purchase, the scammer then contacts the member, pretending to be from our Credit Union, attempting to get the member to approve the transaction.
    • Please Note: Pioneers' fraud team never calls from a local number. When reaching out, our fraud department uses an 800-number. Additionally, our primary method of contact for suspicious activity is text alerts or emails (assuming we have your correct information). These texts are from a five-digit number, not a local phone number.
    • Sample Valid Message from Our Fraud Team:
      Example Here
  2. Calls Requesting Verification Codes:

    • Trend Noticed: We've noticed a trend where members receive calls asking for a verification code to discuss card activity. Providing this code can allow scammers to set up services like Apple Pay or Google Pay, giving them unauthorized access to your funds.
    • Important Reminder: Our representatives will never call and then ask for a verification code. If a verification is requested, it will only be when you initiate contact with us.
    • Sample Verification Message:
      Example Here

Stay Safe & Informed:

  • Should you ever have doubts about the authenticity of a call or message, always hang up and reach out to us directly:
    • Our Office: (304-348-6648)
    • Fraud Team: (800-237-8990)

Let's protect our financial well-being by staying informed and cautious. Thank you for trusting us with your banking needs.

Conclusion: Stay Informed and Connected

Additional Resources: For more in-depth information and guidance on fraud prevention and cybersecurity, we encourage you to explore the following external resources:

These resources offer valuable insights and updates on the latest in fraud prevention and online security.

Contact Information: If you have any concerns or questions regarding potential fraud, or if you need assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us. You can reach us at:

  • Our Office: (304-348-6648)
  • Fraud Team: (800-237-8990

Our team is always here to help and provide the support you need.

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Fraud Alerts

Pioneer is always keeping up to date with recurring trends or trends seen in the news regarding fraud. We report the information to you so that you can take precautionary measures to ensure your card has not been compromised.