Latest Scams
2020 Holiday Crimes & Scams

The Commonwealth Fusion Center’s Massachusetts Cybersecurity Program (CFC-MCP) developed a Cyber Bulletin to alert Massachusetts residents about the latest holiday scams. Click the image below to learn more about the scams and crimes cyber-security experts want you to be aware of this holiday season.

 

Working From Home Email Scam

This is an email scam that can look like this:

The Target

People working remotely from home.

Spot the Scam
  • Fraudsters send an email that claims to be from your employer’s IT support department.
  • They can copy a company’s email address to make a message seem genuine.
  • The message says you need new VPN configuration details to be able to work from home. It wants you to click on a link to get these details.
  • The link goes to a fake Microsoft 365 login page. The page may look real but it’s a copy to try to scam your personal or financial details.
Stop the Scam

If you get an email like this, don’t click on the link or reply. Just delete it.

Top tips to avoid scam messages
  • Keep your money and details safe – Never move money, make a payment or give personal or banking details for a message that comes out of the blue.
  • Click with care – Only click on a link or download an attachment if you’re sure it’s genuine.
  • Look at the spelling and layout – If it has mistakes or looks odd in any way, don’t reply and delete.
  • Take your time – A scam may use warnings or threats to try to get you to act without thinking.
  • Double-check before you pay – Confirm payment details before you pay an invoice or bill. Call the person or business on a number you trust, not one from an invoice or message.

To learn more about scam messages, read our blog post How to Spot a Scam Message.

Disney+ Email Scam

This is an email scam that can look like this:

The Target

Disney+ customers.

Spot the Scam
  • Fraudsters send an email that claims there’s been ‘unusual activity’ on your account.
  • The message says your account has been locked and you need to create a new password. It could also say that there’s been a problem with your card payment details.
  • They want you to click an ‘update account now’ button.
  • This button goes to a fake Disney+ page. The page may look real but it’s a copy to try to scam your personal or financial details.
Stop the Scam
  • If you get an email like this, don’t click on the link.
  • Delete the email. Don’t reply to it.
Top tips to avoid scam messages
  • Keep your money and details safe – Never move money, make a payment or give personal or banking details for a message that comes out of the blue.
  • Click with care – Only click on a link or download an attachment if you’re sure it’s genuine.
  • Look at the spelling and layout – If it has mistakes or looks odd in any way, don’t reply and delete.
  • Take your time – A scam may use warnings or threats to try to get you to act without thinking.
  • Double-check before you pay – Confirm payment details before you pay an invoice or bill. Call the person or business on a number you trust, not one from an invoice or message.

To learn more about scam messages, read our blog post How to Spot a Scam Message.

Bitcoin Social Media Scam

This is a social media scam that can look like this:

The Target

Social media users, especially younger people.

Spot the Scam
  • Fraudsters are using social media to offer Bitcoin deals.
  • They send a message that promises to double your money.
  • This message has been seen on Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram.
Stop the Scam
  • If you get a social media message about Bitcoin, don’t reply.
  • Before you delete the message, you can report it to the social media platform.
Top tips to avoid social media scams
  • Double-check messages – If you get one out of the blue, it could be a scam. Make sure that a sender is genuine before you do anything else. If you don’t know them, don’t reply and delete.
  • Share with care – Keep personal and banking details private. What you share on social media can be used by fraudsters to steal your money.
  • Only connect with people you know – If you’re not sure who someone is, don’t connect with them.
  • Use strong passwords – Choose a new, strong password for every account or site you use.

To learn more about scam messages, read our blog post How to Spot a Scam Message.

Netflix Email Scam

This is an email scam that can look like this:

The Target

Netflix customers.

Spot the Scam
  • Fraudsters send an email that claims to come from Netflix Support.
  • The message says your account will be canceled if you don’t update your personal details within 24 hours.
  • It wants you to click a link to update them.
  • This link will go to a fake Netflix page. The page may look real but it’s a copy to try to scam you into giving login, credit card, and billing address details.
Stop the Scam
  • If you get an email like this, don’t click on the link.
  • Delete the email. Don’t reply to it.
Top tips to avoid scam messages
  • Keep your money and details safe – Never move money, make a payment, or give personal or banking details for a message that comes out of the blue.
  • Click with care – Only click on a link or download an attachment if you’re sure it’s genuine.
  • Look at the spelling and layout – If it has mistakes or looks odd in any way, don’t reply and delete.
  • Take your time – A scam may use warnings or threats to try to get you to act without thinking.
  • Double-check before you pay – Confirm payment details before you pay an invoice or bill. Call the person or business on a number you trust, not one from an invoice or message.

To learn more about scam messages, read our blog post How to Spot a Scam Message.

Puppy Scam

Scammers love to try to take advantage of people when they are in high emotion situations. More people are home alone and feeling isolated due to COVID-19, and scammers are counting on that vulnerability to successfully commit this fraud.

The Target

Any individual shopping for a new puppy on the internet and finds a website advertising puppies for sale.

Spot the Scam
  • Puppy scammers post fake litters online or pretend to be someone they’re not (usually an existing breeder) to take advantage of puppy sales.
  • The seller prefers to handle communication by email and not the phone. A reputable breeder will always communicate with you via phone or video chat (if not in person) before selling you a puppy. Fraudulent sellers are oftentimes outside of the U.S. and may be hiding their phone number by only communicating by email.
  • Photos of the dog or ad text can be found on multiple websites. Search for the text in the listing to see if the seller copied and pasted it from another site.
  • The seller asks for wiring of money or payment by gift cards. Be aware that if you choose a non-secure method of payment, it is highly unlikely that you will get your money back.
Stop the Scam
  • Analyze reviews and referrals – The best sources for purebred puppies will have ample positive reviews or referrals from satisfied puppy owners proving they are legitimate and reputable.
  • Meet your breeder or puppy seller – Always ask to talk on the phone or video chat. Meeting in person is great whenever possible.
  • Ask questions – Responsible breeders and puppy sellers love to chat and educate about dogs. Ask anything and everything that you might want to know about the breed, the breeder, and the available puppies.  Ask about the breed and how your pup’s parents compare to the official breed standard and other breed traits. How big are the parents? What do they look like? What kind of temperament do they have?
  • Ask for proof – Don’t be shy — responsible breeders will be happy to share information about your puppy’s parents, and proof of health records and screenings.
  • Get documentation – Ensure that before leaving with your puppy, you will receive documentation of your dog’s papers. The words “American Kennel Club” as well as the AKC logo should be clearly visible. If the breeder or puppy seller hesitates to give you papers, this is usually a warning sign.
  • Be patient – If they seem anxious to complete the sale or get your deposit as soon as possible, or if you feel like they are pushing you to make a quick decision regarding a puppy, be careful. Such behavior is often a warning sign that the person you are dealing with is actually a scammer, and there is no puppy.

 

Amazon Order Email Scam

This is an email scam that can look like this:

Target

Amazon shoppers.

Spot the Scam
  • The victim receives an email masquerading as Amazon order confirmation.
  • The email is intended to notify that their order has been shipped hoping that the victim will notice that they did not order the item and immediately call the number displayed in the email.
  • The number will direct you to the scammer where they will attempt to ascertain your personal information and credit card information.
  • These emails are not usually text-based and all of the content is contained in a large image to thwart anti-spam engines. In addition, the sender usually uses a generic email address, often Gmail.
Stop the Scam
  • If you get an email like this, don’t click on the link or reply. Just delete it.
  • Always check suspicious emails like this with your Amazon account or by calling Amazon directly at (888) 280-4331.
  • Never call the numbers displayed in suspicious emails.
Top tips to avoid scam messages
  • Keep your money and details safe – Never move money, make a payment or give personal or banking details for a message that comes out of the blue.
  • Click with care – Only click on a link or download an attachment if you’re sure it’s genuine.
  • Look at the spelling and layout – If it has mistakes or looks odd in any way, don’t reply and delete.
  • Take your time – A scam may use warnings or threats to try to get you to act without thinking.
  • Double-check before you pay – Confirm payment details before you pay an invoice or bill. Call the person or business on a number you trust, not one from an invoice or message.

To learn more about scam messages, read our blog post How to Spot a Scam Message.

Common Scams
Grandparent or Ransom Scam
The Target

Seniors.

Spot the Scam
  • A grandparent receives a phone call (or sometimes an e-mail) from a “grandchild” or other close family member or friend. If it is a phone call, it’s often late at night or early in the morning when most people aren’t thinking that clearly.
  • The scammer pretends to be your loved one, pretending that your loved one is hurt or in trouble, or more terrifying, that your loved one has been kidnapped.
  • Sometimes, instead of the “grandchild” making the phone call, the scammer pretends to be an arresting police officer, a lawyer, a doctor at a hospital, or some other person. Or the phony grandchild talks first and then hands the phone over to an accomplice, to further spin the fake tale.
  • The caller doesn’t sound like your family member. Scammers might claim there is a bad connection or even that their nose is broken.
  • If the caller requests payment by wire transfer or a gift card, it’s a red flag. Remember, wire transfers are commonly used in scams because they cannot be canceled or reversed.
  • Jails don’t accept bail payment in the form of a gift card.
Stop the Scam
  • Hang up the phone. If you’re not sure who’s calling, hang up the phone. Trust your instincts.
  • Notify the police. Even if you’re sure your loved one is not in danger. If you think your loved one is really in trouble, contact your local police. They can put you in touch with the proper authorities.
Top tips to avoid scam calls
  • Ask for information – Ask the caller questions that they would be unable to learn online or from your social media accounts, such as childhood nicknames or favorite family recipes.
  • Monitor incoming calls – Always let unknown numbers go to voicemail.
  • Make a plan with your loved ones – Discuss what steps should be taken should you ever receive a call about their safety.
  • Tell them you’ll call back – But then try to contact the person the caller claims to be directly. Don’t use the number they use or give you. If they can’t be reached, contact another family member to try and confirm the validity of the call. If they say it’s the police you can call back using your local police department’s non-emergency number.
  • Sign up for the “Do Not Call” registry – Add your name to the state as well as the national one to limit telemarketers from reaching you.

To learn more about scam messages, read our blog post How to Recognize & React to a Scam Call.

Social Security Scam

Here’s what one of these scam calls sound like:

The Target

Seniors.

Spot the Scam
  • Scammers will say your Social Security number (SSN) has been suspended because of suspicious activity, or because it’s been involved in a crime.
  • In other variations, the scammer says that somebody used your Social Security number to apply for credit cards, and you could lose your benefits.
  • Sometimes, the scammer wants you to confirm your SSN to reactivate it. Sometimes, the caller will say your bank account is about to be seized – but then tell you what to do to keep it safe.
  • Often, that involves putting your money on gift cards and giving the caller the codes – which, of course, means that your money is gone.
  • Your caller ID often shows the real Social Security Administration (SSA) phone number (1-800-772-1213) when these scammers call – but they’re faking that number.
Stop the Scam
  • Hang up the phone. “If you get these calls, you hang up,” said Andrew Saul, Social Security Administration commissioner. “Don’t engage with the scammer. You can’t beat them.”
  • Notify the FTC. If you get one of these calls, tell the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.
Top tips to avoid scam calls
  • Never verify your SSN to anyone who calls out of the blue – Your Social Security number is not about to be suspended. And your bank accounts are not about to be seized. You don’t have to verify your number to anyone who calls unsolicited.
  • Never give your bank or credit card number – SSA will never call to threaten your benefits or tell you to wire money, send cash, or put money on gift cards. Anyone who tells you to do those things is a scammer. Every time.
  • Don’t trust emails or texts – Also be wary of texts or email notifications that make similar demands.
  • Still unsure? If you’re worried about a call from someone who claims to be from the Social Security Administration, get off the phone. Then call the real SSA at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

To learn more about scam messages, read our blog post How to Recognize & React to a Scam Call.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Scam

Thousands of people have lost millions of dollars and their personal information to tax scams. Scammers use regular mail, telephone, or email to set up individuals, businesses, payroll, and tax professionals.

The Target

Taxpayers and recent immigrants.

Spot the Scam
  • Callers claim to be IRS employees, using fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers.
  • They may know a lot about their targets, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling.
  • Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a gift card or wire transfer.
  • Victims may be threatened with arrest, deportation, or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.
  • Victims may be told they have a refund due to try to trick them into sharing private information. If the phone isn’t answered, the scammers often leave an “urgent” callback request.
  • Some thieves have used video relay services (VRS) to try to scam deaf and hard of hearing individuals.
  • Limited English Proficiency victims are often approached in their native language, threatened with deportation, police arrest, and license revocation, among other things.
Stop the Scam
  • Ignore & delete digital communications. The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information.
  • Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to report a phone scam. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page. You can also call 800-366-4484.
  • Report an unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS, or an IRS-related component like the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov.
To avoid this scam, note the IRS does not:
  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card, or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail you a bill if you owe any taxes.
  • Threaten to bring in local police, immigration officers or other law-enforcement to have you arrested for not paying. The IRS also cannot revoke your driver’s license, business licenses, or immigration status. Threats like these are common tactics scam artists use to trick victims into buying into their schemes.
  • Demand payment without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.

 

Charity and Association Scams

Scammers often try to take advantage of your generosity by posing as charity or association organizations.

The Target

Seniors.

Spot the Scam
  • Is it a charity/association that you’ve ever heard about? Never donate to an organization that you know nothing about without researching it, especially those that pop up overnight in connection with a recent natural disaster, terrorist attack, or other similar tragic news stories.
  • Is the caller aggressive and pressuring you to donate as soon as possible? Legitimate organizations won’t use these tactics to get you to donate.
  • Who is the donation going to be made to? If the caller suggests writing a check payable to them, not the organization, for convenience, don’t do it.
Stop the Scam
  • Never share your personal or financial information, including your Social Security number or credit card and bank account numbers, to anyone who solicits a contribution from you.
  • Check to see that the charity is registered with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office Division of Non-Profit Organizations and Public Charities and the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance.
  • Request written information about the organization, its mission, programs and finances, how your donation will be used, and proof that your contribution is tax-deductible.
Publishers Clearing House Scam

There’s a lot of scams related to PCH. As a company that has been in business for over 50 years, PCH is a recognizable brand and welcomed into households all across the country.  And, if you are familiar with the PCH name, you can be sure scammers know them as well.

Spot the Scam
  • If you receive an email, a telephone call, or a bulk mail letter saying that you’ve won a big prize from PCH, it’s a scam. According to the PCH website: “All PCH prizes of $500 or greater are awarded by either certified or express letter or in person by our famous Prize Patrol at our option.”
  • Scammers extort money from you in exchange for a promise of a prize that never materializes. The truth is you never, ever have to pay to receive a sweepstakes prize from Publishers Clearing House or any other company.
  • Scammers sometimes make it appear that you’re not “really” paying for your prize by handing over a check and asking you to send back some of the money. After all, they’re providing the funds, right? Wrong. Those checks aren’t legitimate, and you’ll be left holding the bill.
PCH Scam on Facebook
  • One of the most common Facebook scams uses fake Publishers Clearing House pages to trick victims.
  • Scammers create a Facebook page that mimics the look of a real PCH page or a personal page of one of PCH’s employees.
  • They’ll steal company logos, the PCH color scheme, photos of Prize Patrol members, and more to make their fake page look trustworthy.
  • PCH fans find and follow the page, and the scammer messages them and tells them they’ve won a prize.
  • They then ask for money before they can claim their “winnings.” Victims hand over cash but never see a prize.
Stop the Scam
  • If you receive an email or a bulk mail letter saying that you’ve won a big prize from PCH, ignore and trash the communication.
  • If you receive a telephone call from someone claiming to be from Publishers Clearing House and says you have won, hang up.
  • If someone claiming to be from Publishers Clearing House tries to send you a friend request on Facebook, ignore and delete the request.
Top tips to avoid scam messages
  • Don’t give out confidential information when you enter – You don’t have to give Publishers Clearing House your address, bank account number, driver’s license number, or any other confidential information when you first enter.
  • Do your research before you respond – There are some steps that you can take to verify your prize wins.
  • Verify your wins with Publishers Clearing House directly – If you have checked the steps above and you’re still not sure if your win notice is legitimate, you can contact PCH directly to ask them to verify your prize. Do NOT use the telephone numbers or email addresses included in your win notice; scammers fake that information to trick their victims.
  • Still Not Sure? Get More Tips Directly From PCH.com – Publishers Clearing House works diligently to fight scams, both by working with law enforcement officials and through public education. For more tips on avoid Publishers Clearing House scams, visit the Contest Integrity section of the PCH website, PCH.com.

To learn more about how you can protect yourself from financial scams, read our blog post Your Complete Guide to Protecting Yourself from Financial Scams.

What Liberty Bay Does
Fraud Analysis

We use state-of-the-art fraud monitoring tools that monitor your account for suspicious transactions and activity to help protect you against fraud. If we detect unusual purchasing patterns or locations, we may deny or hold a transaction until we’re sure that it’s valid.

Travel Notifications

If you plan to travel internationally or domestically, let us know when and where you’ll be traveling. That way, if our fraud monitoring team sees charges, they won’t flag it as suspicious activity and freeze your account.

There are two ways to place a travel notification on your account:

  • Log on to Online Banking and send a secure email or message by clicking the Support tab on the top right of the page.
  • Call Member Services at (617) 439-6500.
Secure Browsing

Liberty Bay’s website, mobile app, and other digital channels use secure protocols to ensure that data transmissions are secure.

EMV Chip Enhanced Cards

Liberty Bay MasterCard Debit Cards and Visa Credit Cards offer the added security of EMV smart chips. EMV chip cards are the global standard for card security, offering improved protection against fraud wherever chip-enhanced payments are accepted.

Federal Insurance

As a member of Liberty Bay, take comfort in knowing that every dollar you deposit is safe, secure, and 100% insured. All deposits are fully insured by a combined insurance coverage of the National Credit Union Association (NCUA), up to $250,000, and the Massachusetts Shared Insured Corporation (MSIC) covers the rest. Now that’s safe keeping.

Strict Data Privacy

Liberty Bay has physical, electronic and procedural privacy safeguards in place that comply with federal regulations and are in keeping with industry best practices. Learn more about how we protect your personal information by reading our privacy policy.

What You Can Do
Online Banking
  • Reduce the chance of mail fraud by enrolling for eStatments.
  • Never share any personal information such as social security numbers, account numbers, or login and password information.
  • Avoid using the same password for multiple accounts and include both numbers, letters, and special characters in your password.
  • Change your password periodically and keep it confidential.
  • Make sure to keep your contact information up to date.
  • Set up alerts online to notify you of suspicious activity on your account.
  • Make sure your computer’s anti-virus software is up to date.
  • Logout of your banking session when you’re finished.
  • Remember, Liberty Bay will never ask you for your online banking password.
MasterCard Debit/ATM Card

If you have a Liberty Bay MasterCard Debit/ATM Card, download the CardValet app. CardValet is a standalone app that allows you to turn your debit card “on” or “off” anytime. When a card is “off,” it cannot be used by anyone. Turn it “on” when you’re ready to use it.

Advantages of CardValet:

  • Help safeguard your cards from fraud
  • Define areas where your card can be used
  • Limit purchase by the type of merchant
  • Set limits on the dollar amount

Is there a cost?

No, CardValet is a free service we offer to our members with a Liberty Bay MasterCard Debit Card. However, message and data rates may apply from your carrier.

What operating system do I need for CardValet?

CardValet will generally support the current and two past versions of the operating systems for Apple iOS devices and Android-based mobile devices.

How do I enroll/register for CardValet?

Download the CardValet app (Apple/Google) and install on your device

Registration Process:

  • Once you have the app installed on your mobile device, open the app and select ‘New User’
  • You will begin the registration process by entering your card number. After you have entered the
    card number press “Next”. You will then be asked to input the following information to complete
    your card registration process.

    • Security Code (3-digit code found in the signature panel on the back of the card)
    • Expiration Date
    • Billing Address (must match the address Liberty Bay has on file for your account)
    • Last 4 digits of the primary cardholder
  • Once this information has been entered and verified you will be asked to accept the ‘Terms and
    Conditions for CardValet Terms of Use’. Please press ‘accept’ to continue.
  • You will now create your account login information by entering your email address, selecting a username and creating a password.

Can multiple cards be linked to one registered account?

You can register multiple cards within a single CardValet app. Additional cards can be added within the ‘Manage Portfolio – Add Card’ screen.

You will need to enter the same level of detail entered for the original card. This information includes the

  • Card number
  • Security Code (3-digit code found in the signature panel on the back of the card)
  • Expiration Date
  • Billing Address (must match the address Liberty Bay has on file for your account)
  • Last 4 digits of the primary cardholder

Typical examples of multiple individuals registering one card include: parents and dependents; spouses; and employers/employees.

How exactly does the on/off feature work?

The on/off control within CardValet will allow you to block transactions at any time for any reason. The on/off function will not affect transactions that were approved prior to the card being turned off or to transactions that have been setup as recurring.

What are Controls and Alerts?

Controls can be used to restrict transactions based on certain parameters, whereas alerts are only notifications that a transaction has been conducted or attempted. Controls facilitate the on/off CardValet setting, as well as limiting usage based on merchant type, location, or transaction amount. Alerts can be set to notify you based on the parameters you chose regarding merchant type, location, transaction amount, or you may choose to be alerted for all card transactions.

A threshold limit of $50 has been set but I cannot buy gas at some pumps. Why?

There are some merchant types that will pre-authorize the card for an amount that may be larger than the actual transaction amount. In this instance the pre-authorization amount is exceeding the threshold spend limit. If this happens to you, adjust/turn off the ‘Spend Limit’ control or go inside and prepay for a specific dollar amount.

I used my card and got declined due to “My Location” or “My Region” controls, why?

There are some local merchants that use out of area processors for their card transactions, those transactions may be declined for these types of merchants if the ‘My Region’ or ‘My Location’ controls are active. Please deactivate this control and attempt the purchase again.

Can I block all international transactions?

International transactions can be blocked using the ‘International’ location control. Transactions will be limited to the United States. IF this option is selected, you will not be able to also use either the ‘My Location’ or ‘My Region’ controls.

Always contact Liberty Bay if you plan to travel outside of the country.

Mobile App
  • If your mobile device is stolen or lost, make sure to change your Liberty Bay Credit Union password right away.
  • Avoid downloading apps that modify the mobile device operating system.
  • Don’t store your passwords on your phone.
  • Don’t share your device with people you do not know.
  • Make sure you keep your app version up to date.
Phishing

Phishing is the practice of sending fraudulent emails that appear to be from reputable companies to try to induce you to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers.

  • Liberty Bay will never request your Online Banking password.
  • Liberty Bay will not send an unsolicited text asking for your personal information.
  • Do not click on any links received in emails that were unwarranted or from people who you do not know.
Online Business Banking
  • If you have a Business Banking account, periodically evaluate your internal controls for Online Banking and conduct an annual risk assessment.
  • Remember to delete Online Banking usernames as part of the exit process when employees leave your company.
  • Separate responsibilities among different employees regarding maintenance, entry, and approval.
Additional Resources
Check Out Our Blog to Learn More

The Beacon Brief is a resource for members of Liberty Bay and the communities we serve to gain insights, discover tips, and receive guidance that will help empower your life with informed financial decisions.

FA$Ttrack Financial Education

Identity Protection

Identity theft and consumer fraud can happen to anyone at any time. It’s important to learn how to protect your identity and what steps to take if your personal information is stolen.

This short learning experience will explore:

  • How identity theft happens and the potential impacts
  • Strategies to help you protect your identity
  • Steps to report identity crimes and mitigate damage
woman reviewing tips