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What to Do When You Think You’re Being Targeted in a Scam

Life & FinancesTools & Advice

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Keeping an eye out for these kinds of threats has become the new normal. The advancement of technology is allowing scammers to trick Americans out of more money than ever before.

What to Do When You Think You’re Being Targeted in a Scam

Last month, a member entered a Sound Credit Union (Sound) branch requesting to withdraw their life savings. When asked if a cashier check would suffice, the member insisted on cash. They told Sound’s tellers they had an elderly parent living in an out-of-state assisted living home who was in danger of being evicted if they did not catch up on their rent. The member planned to fly out that night to hand-deliver the cash to the assisted living home.

Concerned, a branch manager invited the member into his office and explained that he believed the member was being scammed. He offered a number of cashless, safer options and told the member that if they gave the cash to the wrong person, it would be gone forever and there would be no recourse. The member told our manager they appreciated the concern, but reinforced they needed the cash immediately.

It turned out this member was, in fact, being targeted in a scam. Someone had contacted them posing as federal agents and demanded their life savings to cover back taxes they were unaware of (and that did not exist). The scammers instructed the member to deposit the money in a virtual currency kiosk, sometimes referred to as “Bitcoin ATMs,” which are being increasingly used to scam people. Once cash is converted to untraceable cryptocurrency via a virtual currency kiosk, the scammers end up with the cryptocurrency and disappear.

After leaving Sound’s branch, the member got nervous and decided they were not going to put the money in a virtual currency kiosk. A few hours later, the member returned to the branch, cash in hand, and in tears. Sound redeposited all the funds.

Keeping an eye out for these kinds of threats has become the new normal. The advancement of technology is allowing scammers to trick Americans out of more money than ever before, and credit unions and institutions like Sound are encountering fraudulent activity on a near-daily basis.

Recently, Ryan Zilker, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer of Sound Credit Union, met with several Sound employees to gauge trends the public should be aware of when they suspect they’re being targeted in a scam. Here are a few pieces of advice from Sound’s employees in the field:

  • Trust your gut: Scams are getting increasingly sophisticated. Even a trained eye can easily fall prey to a great deal on a last-minute gift. Before hitting “purchase” on an impulse buy, take an extra minute to check seller details and other identifying information to see if there are any red flags. If something feels weird or “off” about a purchase, or if the deal seems too good to be true, there’s probably a good reason.
  • Be suspicious: If you get a call from someone claiming to be from a financial institution, Sound included, asking for account, card, or online banking information, you might be the target of a scammer. Sound, or any other financial institution, will never ask for any of your personal account information. When in doubt, end all communication and call the number listed on the back of your debit or credit card, or the number listed on our website.
  • Use your credit union or bank as a resource: Sound and other financial institutions want their members to see every employee as a trusted member of their financial team and always feel comfortable coming to them for financial counsel of any kind.