Scam alert: Important info regarding my mortgage?

Image result for mortgage scam postcards

Mysterious postcards are showing up in mailboxes all over the country and they’ve started hitting home. This “time-sensitive” matter has many of us scratching our heads and saying, “huh?” Well, guess what? They’re 100%, for sure, mortgage scams.

So, what the heck are they?

Let’s address the elephant in the room and put to rest that these did NOT come from Wauna Credit Union — in fact, they did not originate from any financial institution. Recipients are urged to contact a toll-free number (after doing some digging, these postcards have listed 855-901-9227, 800-230-8750, 888-405-0963, and 855-549-212) regarding a recently closed WCU mortgage.

Where are they coming from?

Whether or not you have indeed recently closed on a WCU mortgage (congratulations if you have!) companies from all over the world have the ability to purchase your information if it has been publicly listed (sometimes even if it hasn’t been!) But your first giveaway should be that the Mortgage ID number provided is bogus.

Often times, scammers will pull what’s called the “phantom help” maneuver, where they’ll encourage you to reduce or even stop your mortgage payments while they work to lessen your costs (for a moderate fee, of course). Unfortunately, by the time you realize you’re being taken advantage of, the phantom helper is long gone.

If you look reeeeeeally closely in the bottom right-hand corner of the examples we’ve provided, you’ll see a “All information provided by H.W.C.” and a “Not affiliated with…” disclosure. Problem is you can grow old searching for information about H.W.C. and come back with nothing solid. We’ve also seen loandepot.com, Heritage Warranty Company, and Mortgage Protection Services, only none of these are legitimate businesses.

Conduct a quick online search for “Mortgage Protection Services” and you’ll find they have an ‘F’ rating with Better Business Bureau, hundreds of thousands of complaints on Ripoff Report, and even have Cease and Desist orders from several states, including Illinois and Massachusetts.

We called the number!

Image result for mortgage scam postcardsDarn right we called the number. In fact, we tried all the numbers we were able to find. Some connect to a live person, others are recordings, and one dialed directly to an automated system. Regardless of which number, we were eventually probed for personal information. Funny enough, these fraudsters refuse to give out any information about themselves, or even the actual company they are working with.

To be clear: Wauna Credit Union will NEVER ask for your social security number, passwords, or other sensitive information via postcard or over the phone.

So, how do I protect myself against these postcards?

It never feels good to be the target of a scam, but unfortunately it happens to us all. Should one of these end up in your mailbox, recycle it. Do not call the number. Do not play their games. Toss it and forget it. Remember, Wauna Credit Union will not send you notifications like this. If you are ever uncertain, contact us right away.

Onto protecting you from the next scam!

Fraudsters and skimmers, oh my!

Related imageSkimmers are sneaky little devices, which fraudsters affix to ATMs or other machines that accept credit or debit card transactions. The skimmer then secretly swipes your card information whenever you slip your card into the affected machine. These pesky gadgets have been around for years. But thieves are continually improving them and their usage doesn’t seem to stop!

Recently, a credit union in Washington reported an increase in card fraud because of a skimmer thought to be located at a nearby gas station. Wauna Credit Union can take steps to prevent and detect skimmers placed on our own ATMs and ITMs. But it is impossible for us to protect all of our members from skimmers elsewhere.

However, we won’t let you face the skimmers of the world unarmed. So, here are some tips and tricks on how you can take extra precaution when using your card at an ATM or other machine and avoid these irksome skimming devices:

  • When you can, use ATMs, ITMs, and gas pumps that are familiar. The more routine the visit to the machine is, the more likely someone has been checking regularly to detect potential issues.Image result for skimming device
  • Look for evidence of tampering! For example, some gas pumps will place a security seal over the portion of the gas pump that controls the card reader. A broken seal a strong indication that the card reader has been tampered with.
  • Is the gas station unfamiliar to you? try comparing the card reader at your pump with card readers at other pumps. If there is a discrepancy, pay inside, use a different pump, or find a different gas station. An extra minute or two could save you a huge headache.
  • When possible, run the transaction as a credit transaction instead of a PIN transaction.
  • If using an ATM that is located inside of a convenience or grocery store, look for evidence of tampering. Ways to detect a skimmer include lightly pulling on the card reader and pin pad to ensure neither easily detach from the machine and by paying attention to colors and graphics on the machine that appear to be different than what should be expected.
  • Pay attention to anyone who appears to be loitering or otherwise hanging around a machine with no visible purpose. If this is the case, use a different machine. Report the suspicious person to the business. Always ensure you are covering the PIN pad when typing in your PIN number.
  • Regularly monitor credit card and account statements and look for discrepancies. By keeping an eye on your statements and creating alerts in online banking for unusual activity, you proactively fighting fraud. Contact us right away if something seems out of the ordinary.

Making sure that you are aware of how to detect skimming devices can go a long way towards keeping you and your finances safe.

Watch out for those Grinches this Holiday Season

https://waunafcu.org/blog/equifax-breach-part-2/
Watch out for Grinches

The National Retail Association reports that 164 million Americans will go shopping this Thanksgiving week, including on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and on Small Business Saturday and Sunday. All in all, the average consumer is expected to spend $967 this year.

So, whether you brave the mall, keep it local, or get caught up in the online shopping frenzy this holiday season, it’s important that you keep yourself safe from the bad guys out there.

Here are a few tips and tricks to help!

Spend Wisely

How much are you shelling out to spread that holiday cheer? Wauna Credit Union wants you to find that perfect gift, without spending yourself silly. Here are some simple guidelines:

  • Make a list of people you want to buy gifts for and stick to it.
  • Set a budget limit. As they say, “It’s the thought that counts.”
  • Use the best credit card. As a not-for-profit cooperative, we can offer lower interest rates on credit cards than many profit-driven financial services providers.

Protect your credit cards

As a smart consumer, you can shop with confidence this holiday season. But be weary of fraudsters and scams that are all too prevalent.

  • Keep a list of all your account numbers in a safe place, just in case you need to report it if one is lost or stolen.
  • At the cash register, protect your PIN by blocking the keypad from view of others. We suggest resting your fingers on other keys as you enter your PIN.
  • Do not use public wireless networks for online purchases.
  • Use our online account monitoring service and immediately report any suspicious activity to us.
  • Shop on sites with https:// in the URL, and be sure that an icon with a lock appears to the left. The “s” stands for “secure” and indicates communication with that site is encrypted.
  • Type the merchant’s address directly into your browser; avoid links.
  • Use complicated passwords with at least eight characters. Include numbers, special characters, and upper and lower-case numbers.
  • In addition, keep the antivirus and security software updated on your computers and mobile devices.
  • We also recommend that you don’t store your payment information on shopping sites or shopping apps.
  • Finally, take a look at our guide concerning the Equifax breach as well. You can view it here.

Shop Safely

Don’t let the Grinch steal the whole season either. When you go shopping, park in well-lit areas. Walk to and from the stores with your head up and be watchful. Thugs look for people who are not paying attention. Keep your keys in your hand so you can hit the panic alarm if you need to. Unfortunately, ‘tis the season for pickpockets, too. Probably a good idea to keep wallets in zipped purses and front pockets.

Compare Online Deals

What a wonderful time-saver online shopping is!  We know a lot of sites will claim to have great deals, particularly on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but they may not have the lowest price. If you find something you like, do a little comparison shopping by using sites such as Google Shopping or Pricewatch.com.

Give Yourself a Gift

Invest in “you” this holiday season because hey, you deserve it. Open a new savings account, take financial education classes, or look for low interest loans to help you achieve your financial dreams this coming year. Come see us or visit us online for all of those dreamy possibilities.