MADISON, Wis. (3/16/11)--With tax season and the recent tsunami/earthquake disaster in Japan, the climate is ripe for financial scams. Several fraud attempts have been reported nationwide. Since October, Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has received more than 150 complaints reporting that consumers received fraudulent e-mails titled “LAST NOTICE: Your Federal Tax Payment has been rejected.” E-mails stated, “The problem is that system doesn't process your company ID on holidays and we moved your tax payment batch to a waiting list.” Recipients were then directed to click on a link to obtain details about their company’s status and tax payment batch file. Some complainants use the electronic system to pay their estimated quarterly taxes, so the e-mail appeared relevant. Other related phishing e-mails claimed, “the identification number used in the Company Identification Field is not valid.” Recipients were directed to visit hxxp://eftps.gov/r21 and “check the information and refer to Code R21 to get details about your company payment in transaction contacts section.” Another recent complaint filed with the IC3 reported the same type of phishing e-mail except this time, recipients were directed to open an attachment contained in the e-mail. The e-mail was titled “Your Federal Tax Payment Notice.” Like the others, it claimed, “the identification number used in the Company Identification Field is not valid.” To entice the recipient to open the attachment, the e-mail stated, “check the attached information and refer to Code R21 to get details about your company payment in transaction contacts section.” In addition to keeping members apprised of such scams, credit union themselves are receiving complaints about other scams, such as debit card and texting scams. Members of two Massachusetts credit unions were warned to keep a close eye on accounts linked to their debit cards after some apparently fraudulent activity was noticed. Leominster (Mass.) CU, with $596 million in assets, and GFA FCU, with $326 million assets in Gardner, Mass., posted warnings on their websites. GFA FCU also e-mailed its members. Callers to Leominster CU were warned about fraudulent debit card activity in states other than Massachusetts (Worcester Telegram & Gazette
March 12). The credit unions said they have implemented measures to protect members’ accounts, and these could cause members debit cards to be declined for certain transactions. Leominster CU Senior Vice President Carol Southworth told the newspaper many financial institutions experienced security breaches through either merchant sites or sites where credit card transactions are processed. Several credit unions and banks are issuing warnings and urging members and customers to monitor their accounts. Dozens of Denver area residents received bogus text messages on March 7 alerting them that their credit cards had been deactivated and directing them to call Sooper CU (Denver 7News
March 8). The message instructed recipients to call a number listed in the text. They then received a computer generated message, which directed them to enter their credit card number to be connected to Sooper CU. Sooper CU’s will never ask for credit card or debit card information through telephone, e-mail or text message, its website said. The Texas Credit Union League (TCUL) warned its members of a door-to-door scam targeting elderly individuals in the Corpus Christi and Houston areas (LoanStar Leaguer
March 9). The con artists reportedly claim to be from the Area Agency on Aging (AAA), an agency under the umbrella of local Council of Governments (COG) that provide resources and services for elderly citizens. The scammers convince the elder victim to allow them in the house to assist with their financial planning. Representatives from the AAA do not typically solicit through door-to-door activities. Its clients are referred from other community and government agencies. The TCUL offered this list of scams often target the elderly:
* You’ve Already Won … ” Official-looking documents designed to trick recipients into thinking they’ve won money are worded to appear legal. However, they often hide in tiny italic type crucial information, such as the fact that it isn’t really a prize announcement. Seniors who fall for this scam send a check (for a “processing fee”) to a post office box. The victim loses anywhere from $5 to $50. * Telemarketing scams. Seniors are also prime targets for unscrupulous telemarketers. Appreciating the opportunity to engage in conversation with friendly sounding strangers, many seniors are often duped into disclosing sensitive information like credit card and checking account numbers. * Ready-made repairs. In this scam, “gardeners” or “handymen” offer to do “necessary” repair work on just about anything, from roofs to cracked driveways, to trimming shrubs or cutting half-broken limbs. The perpetrators scare seniors into hiring them on the spot to avoid fines due to “city code violations.” Often the scammer insists on payment upfront, and/or once finished with the “job,” demands additional money. Some threaten that to call the police if the victim doesn’t pay. * Charity scams. Scammers will create a fake charity whose name rings familiar to a legitimate charity. Knowing that “causes” such as health and children’s welfare appeal to seniors, the scammer solicits “donations” from unsuspecting victims.
Also, Monday, NACHA warned of a phishing scam perpetrated by individuals who claim to be representatives of NACHA (News Now
March 15). The emails, which contain harmful links, have been sent to both individuals and companies and bear the name of NACHA and, at times, the names of fictitious NACHA employees and departments.