The following potential security risks identify some of the things you should be aware of when using the Internet to help prevent identity theft.
Foreclosure Rescue Scams
In many communities, “We Buy Houses” and “Stop Foreclosure” signs are a familiar sight. If you are a homeowner unable to keep up with your mortgage, you may be tempted to call the number on a sign. Don’t. Unfortunately, there have been a slew of con artists that have popped up in recent years who prey on homeowners facing foreclosure. Popular scams include:
Phantom help: The con artists claim they can negotiate an agreement with your lender but they require an upfront fee. They may also ask you to start paying your mortgage to them. After they get your money, they usually disappear. There are some foreclosure rescue agencies that may actually try to contact your lender, but all they are really doing is charging you a fee for something you can do yourself.
Rent to own: The con artists claim that by giving them the title to your house, they will take over your mortgage payments (or find an investor who will) but allow you to stay and pay a reasonable rent. They promise that you can buy back the home in a few years once your financial situation improves. However, the reality is quite different. If there is equity in your home, the scammers may drain it by taking out a home equity loan or refinancing. Once they get their money, they stop paying the mortgage, and you get evicted when the lender forecloses on the home. Other possibilities: they may raise the rent to an unaffordable level and evict you when you cannot pay it or set the purchase price so high that you cannot afford to buy the house back.
Fake refinancing: The con artists claim that they are refinancing your loan to bring it current and have you sign the “loan papers”. However, often what you are really doing is signing over the title of your home, leaving the con artists free to refinance, take out a home equity loan, or sell the home and keep the profit for themselves. Or they may charge you a hefty upfront fee for their “services” and give you bogus paperwork. Once you realize what happens, the con artists and your money will likely be long gone.
Buyer scouting: The con artists guarantee that they will find a buyer for you, and you will both split the profits when the home sells. There is just one catch first you need to hand over the title to your home and move out. Once you move out, instead of finding a buyer, the scammers rent out the home or cash out your equity, and since they neglect to pay the mortgage, your home still goes into foreclosure. You are not necessarily spared from credit report damage either because often only the title is transferred out of your name, not the mortgage.
The fact that there are many con artists out there should not deter you from seeking help the worst thing you can do if you are struggling with your mortgage is hide your head in the sand. There are legitimate counseling agencies, such as BALANCE, that offer their services free of charge. To speak to a counselor, call us at 888-456-2227. You can also get a list of HUD-approved housing counseling agencies by calling 800-569-4287. Furthermore, don’t be afraid to contact your lender directly and ask for help they may be willing to modify your loan or work with you in other ways.If you are facing foreclosure, it is easy to be drawn in by someone offering a quick and easy fix. However, before accepting any assistance, keep in mind the familiar adage: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”.
If you believe that you have already been the victim of a foreclosure rescue scam, contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP and your state’s attorney general’s office.
Is it a scam? Be wary of people offering help who:
Pressure you to sign documents without reading them first or discourage you from showing them to a lawyer.
Ask you to pay the mortgage directly to them.
Guarantee that they can stop the foreclosure process.
Require you to pay an upfront fee, regardless of the outcome.
Ask you to transfer your title to them.
Discourage you from talking to your lender.
Only accept payment by cash, cashier’s check, or wire transfer.
Tell you that you have to accept their offer now or they won’t help you.
Advertise their services by posting signs or slipping a flyer or business card in your mailbox or under your door.
Avoid directly answering your questions and tell you to just trust them.
A major threat posed to internet users are fraudulent emails that indicate they are coming from their credit union explaining that important information needs to be verified. The email usually contains a link that will send the reader to an imposter site (that may even appear to be that of your credit union) where identity theft could occur. This process is known as "Phishing" The term "phishing" comes from the concept of casting out a wide net hoping to catch a few unsuspecting users.
Visa/MasterCard Phishing Alert
We have been notified that customers of banks and credit unions have been receiving emails appearing to offer $50.00 to complete a survey from Visa and/or Mastercard. The email asks the receiver to click a link in the email that takes them to a site that requests the reader to input personal information.
Cell Phone and Text Vishing Alert
Recently other credit unions have had a number of members call in and say they received a call or text message on their cell phone stating that “their ATM or debit card has been blocked and they cannot do any transactions on it unless they press 1 to reactivate your card or to call back a toll free number”. If you press 1 or call back the toll free number, you are asked to input your sixteen digit card number and your PIN. DO NOT DO THIS. This is a scam to get your card numbers.
If you did receive this call and gave your card number by pressing 1 or calling back the toll free number, contact us immediately so we can protect your account.
Here is what is happening: When you get a call you may see that the call is coming from 1-843-884-6884, or you may see 347, 999-304 or some other unidentified number. The fraudster is spoofing that number which means he makes it look like the number that is calling you is a company. Actually they are calling from a different unknown number.
How did they get your cell number? They are doing something called “war dialing”. The fraudster starts with a local area code and a local exchange and randomly generates the last four digits to create a phone number to call or text. Then they take the batch of phone numbers they have compiled and send out mass calls. This is called a major vishing scheme and is affecting other financial institutions both locally and nationwide. For example: people who do not even have a debit card are receiving these calls or you may receive a call identifying a financial institution you don’t even do business with.
Note: Any call that asks you to input your PIN or card number is not a legitimate call. Niagara Falls Teachers' FCU will never ask you to input your card number and PIN via phone, text message or in an e mail.
Your Credit Union is constantly working to protect you and your accounts from these types of scams.
Email based NCUA Phishing Alert
Recently, there have been multiple e-mail fraud attempts, known as "Phishing”, that were initiated via e-mail sent to both the general public and to some credit union members that appeared to be from NCUA. This false email asked for the recipient to click on a link to verify their credit union account registration. If the recipient proceeded to do so, the link directed them to a false website and asked for their credit union account number and PIN, along with other personal information.
NCUA does not ask credit unions members for such personal information. Anyone who receives an email that purports to be from NCUA and asks for account information should consider it to be a fraudulent attempt to obtain their personal account data for an illegal purpose and should not follow the instructions in the email.
If you responded to such an email and provided any confidential account information, please notify your credit union immediately of the scheme. You should also change your account’s PIN, and take any additional action recommended by your credit union to protect your account.
If you feel that you have received a fraudulent phishing e-mail purportedly from NCUA please forward the entire email message to Phishing@ncua.gov
Additionally, you can file formal complaints concerning any suspected fraudulent email with the Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC) at www.ic3.gov. The IFCC is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the National White Collar Crime Center.
Official NFTFCU Policy
Niagara Falls Teachers' Federal Credit Union (NFTFCU) will NEVER ask for you to confirm any personal information using a link in an email. If you receive such a request please contact the credit union.
Don't Be Fooled
To insure you always access the official website of NFTFCU we suggest you manually type the URL (nftfcu.org) into your Internet Browser.
Free Credit Reports
A free copy of your credit report is available at no charge to New York State residents. The Federal Trade Commission has designated www.annualcreditreport.com as their only approved source. Never request a copy of your credit report from an email solicitation.