Safeguarding Your Child’s Identity In Today’s World

Child identity theft isn’t something we often think about. However, it occurs more often than you might expect. According to Javelin’s Child Identity Fraud Report, child identity theft affects 1.25 million kids every year, which translates to about one in 50 children in America. When you see those numbers, it becomes apparent that we must act now to protect the children in our lives.

What Is Child Identity Theft? 

According to the Federal Trade Commission, “Child identity theft happens when someone takes a child’s sensitive personal information and uses it to get services or benefits or to commit fraud. They might use your child’s Social Security number, name and address, or date of birth.” 

Child identity theft happens for a multitude of reasons. The perpetrator could use this information to open a bank or credit card account, apply for government benefits, or even sign up for a utility service or rent a place to live. Much like other types of identity theft, it can be easy for this type of identity theft to go undetected for months or even years. 

How It Happens

As with adults, identity theft against children can be perpetrated through a variety of sources. Below we have listed some ways that children’s personal identifying information (PII) could be exposed and then potentially used for fraudulent purposes.

  • Data Breaches. Kids’ personal identifying information is in so many places, and nothing is completely secure. Schools, doctors’ offices, and your home can all experience security breaches. After a child’s confidential information or PII is exposed, whether the data breach incident is accidental or with malicious intent, the security breach cannot be undone. Often, criminals will wait to utilize the confiscated information for their own purposes. 
  • Familial Fraud. Three out of four cases of child identity theft come from those close to the victim, in what is known as familial fraud, and often occurs in correlation with other forms of abuse, according to Javelin’s Child Identity Fraud Report. Kids are often more trusting than adults, especially when they know the person who is asking for their information. Unscrupulous individuals at times utilize the PII of their own children, or children they know through family or friends, for their own benefit.
  • Phishing. These scams don’t just target adults. Children who use the internet without parental supervision have a higher chance of giving their sensitive information to a scammer, not realizing that they are being tricked. Kids don’t always know not to share their birth date, place of birth, and passwords with strangers or online “friends.” 
  • Hacking. As more children have their own devices, and often multiple devices (computers, tablets, and phones), hacking becomes more common. Hackers can gain access to the information stored on these devices and can also log in to social media accounts, which they could use to attempt to defraud friends and family, acting as your child.

Warning Signs Of Child Identity Theft

Regardless of the way the information makes it into the hands of identity thieves, below are some warning signs that your child’s identity may have been stolen:

  • Unexpected Mail. Your child begins receiving credit card offers, collection notices, or bills under their name.
  • Collection Calls. You or your family members begin to receive calls from collection agencies for unpaid bills in your child’s name.
  • Government Benefits Denials. Your child is denied government benefits because they are already being claimed when this is not the case.
  • IRS Notifications. The IRS contacts you or your child about your child owing taxes or indicates that their SSN was used on another tax return.

How You Can Help Protect Your Children 

The best way to help protect your family from identity theft is to be proactive in helping to prevent it. The most effective preventative measure is education. This type of education will not only help protect them now, but it is information that will benefit them as adults. 

Keep Important Documents in a Secure Location. Keep your family’s personal identifying information in a secure place in your home, be selective about what services you sign up for, and don’t give your information out unless it is absolutely necessary. Make sure that any important documents in your home – such as Social Security cards, birth certificates, or other legal documents – are stored securely, to avoid compromise.

Share Personal Information with Caution. Assess the need before listing your child’s Social Security number (SSN) on forms. Schools and school break camps shouldn’t be using it as the only unique ID for each child. If an SSN is required, don’t be afraid to ask if it’s okay to share only the last 4 digits of your child’s SSN.

Educate Your Child. Talk to your child about the importance of privacy and the dangers of sharing personal information, online and offline. Ensure that your child isn’t sharing personal information like their birthdate, address, or school on social media, other online platforms, or with other individuals without your permission.

Secure Your Mail. If you’re sending or receiving mail with personal details, especially if those personal details pertain to your children, consider using a mailbox that locks or opt for electronic delivery. Retrieve your mail daily as soon after delivery as possible. Consider opting into the U.S. Postal Services “Informed Delivery” service. It’s free to sign up and it will provide a Daily Digest email that will preview your mail and packages scheduled to arrive soon, along with an image of each of your incoming letter-sized mail. This will help you stay vigilant for any missing mail that never arrives. 

Discard Unnecessary Documents with Care. If you have postal mail or other important documents that you no longer need to keep on file, make sure that you use a cross-cut shredder to securely destroy the paperwork. Criminals can engage in “dumpster diving” to retrieve discarded paperwork with personal information, potentially compromising you and your family.

Monitor Your Child’s Personal Information. You have an entitlement to Dark Web Monitoring as part of your Premier Checking account. This includes monitoring your personal information and registered credentials. You have the option to add additional credentials to your secure account as well; you could consider adding your child’s SSN or other identifiers to monitor for any potential compromise or exposure on the dark web.

Child identity theft can have long-lasting consequences, potentially impacting your child’s credit and future opportunities. By remaining vigilant, educating your child, and keeping a close eye on his or her personal information, you can help better protect your child from the impacts of identity theft.

We Are Standing Ready To Help You And Your Family 

If you suspect identity fraud has affected any member of your family, even your minor children, you have access to a professional Identity Theft Recovery Advocate as a no-cost benefit of your Premier Checking account. Our team of Identity Theft Recovery Advocates is standing by, ready to support you and your family. Our Advocates are experienced in spotting child identity theft and supporting you through the process of repairing the harm it may cause now and in the future.

The Growing Threat of Phishing: Protecting Yourself Against Cybercriminals

In the recently released 2022 Internet Crime Report by the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), it has become evident that cyber actors continue to plague Americans, with dollar losses escalating by 49%. Among the staggering number of complaints received by the IC3, over 37% were related to phishing attacks. Phishing has emerged as the single most prevalent category of cybercrime, causing significant financial losses, particularly among citizens aged 60 and older. This article delves into the origins of phishing, and its evolution into a top hacking category. It also offers essential tips to help protect you from falling victim to these malicious schemes.

Understanding Phishing

Phishing is a technique employed by cybercriminals to deceive individuals into divulging sensitive information or installing malware on their devices. This method is executed through various channels such as phone calls, emails, SMS texts, or even social media messages. The term “phishing” was coined in the late 1990s when hackers began using email lures to “fish” for passwords and financial data from unsuspecting internet users.

The Evolution of Phishing

The concept of illegal hacking began in the 1970s, long before the introduction of the internet, with a scam called “phone phreaking” or simply “phreaking.” This form of hacking used machine-driven audible tones to manipulate telephone systems to make free phone calls worldwide. By the late 1990s, when hackers began using lures to “fish” for passwords and financial data from unsuspecting internet users, they coined “phishing” as an homage to their criminal predecessors of the 1970s.

Over the past two decades, phishing has become increasingly sophisticated, pervasive, targeted, and costly. In 2022 alone, the IC3 reported losses of $52 million due to phishing attacks. Notably, unreported losses from such incidents are significantly higher, making it crucial to stay informed about the latest phishing techniques and safeguard oneself against these threats.

Types of Phishing Attacks

  1. Email Phishing: Attackers send fraudulent emails that mimic reputable sources, such as banks, government agencies, or popular online services. These emails often create a sense of urgency, urging recipients to click on malicious links or provide personal information.
  2. Spear Phishing: This targeted approach focuses on specific individuals or organizations. Cybercriminals gather personal information to craft tailored messages that appear authentic, often impersonating colleagues, vendors, or clients to manipulate victims into revealing sensitive data.
  3. Smishing and Vishing: Phishing attacks have extended beyond emails. “Smishing” refers to fraudulent text messages, while “vishing” occurs through voice calls. These tactics rely on social engineering to deceive victims into sharing personal information or clicking on malicious links.

Avoid and Identify Phishing Attempts

  1. Stay Vigilant: Be cautious of unsolicited emails, especially those requesting sensitive information or containing urgent requests. Look for signs of poor grammar, generic greetings, or email addresses that don’t match the claimed sender.
  2. Verify the Source: Before sharing any personal or financial information, independently verify the email’s legitimacy or message’s legitimacy. Contact the organization directly through their official website or customer service channels to confirm the request’s authenticity.
  3. Be Wary of Links and Attachments: Hover over hyperlinks to reveal the true destination before clicking. Avoid downloading attachments or files from untrusted sources, as they may contain malware or ransomware.
  4. Strengthen Passwords and Enable Two-Factor Authentication: Use unique, complex passwords for each online account. Enable two-factor authentication whenever possible, adding an extra layer of security to your accounts.
  5. Keep Software Updated: Regularly update your operating system, web browsers, and antivirus software. Software updates often include security patches that help protect against known vulnerabilities.
  6. Educate Yourself and Others: Stay informed about the latest phishing techniques and trends. Share knowledge with friends, family, and colleagues to raise awareness and help them avoid falling victim to phishing attacks.

And remember, if you feel that you are at risk of identity theft, make sure that you have activated monitoring of your credit to be alerted as quickly as possible to credit fraud. But, don’t rest there. Watch your checking account transactions and for suspicious postal mail that may indicate fraudulent accounts opened in your name. If you feel you could be a victim of identity theft, we have you covered! With the Premier Checking account, you have access to Fully Managed Identity Theft Recovery Services. We can provide a professional Identity Theft Recovery Advocate to help you rescue your good name!


Top Misconceptions on Personal Finances

Police FCU of Omaha is always here to help Your Blue Family. We find that our member-owners are very smart people. However, as with all of us, sometimes we simply don’t know what we don’t know.

Here are the most common areas where we provide personal finance insight to our members in no particular order:

“Credit Report Pull” Misconception – Some consumers erroneously believe that when a lender “pulls” their credit report to quote a loan rate, this process will lower or negatively affect their credit score. Nothing could be further from the truth. For a lender to provide you with an accurate rate quote, they must pull your credit report. It is common for borrowers to shop rates before making their choice, and this process will not adversely affect your credit score.

“Unsecured Debt” Misconception – Something that actually will adversely affect your credit score is holding too much unsecured debt. Converting revolving unsecured debt to a secured fixed rate and term product, such as a Debt Consolidation Loan, will not only improve your credit score but also save you money on finance charges.

“Identity Theft” Misconception – Some consumers believe that if they have a low credit score and/or a high level of debt, they won’t be attractive to identity thieves. Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous individuals all over the world that know several tricks to take advantage of anyone and everyone. So, protect your personal information like gold, regardless of your financial situation.

“Fraud Alert” Misconception – To further drive home the point that unscrupulous individuals know and use several tricks, not every fraud-alert call, text, or email is legitimate. Do not answer these communications directly unless you know for certain that they are coming from your financial institutions. Even if you are just a little unsure, follow your instinct and call the primary number for your financial institution or credit card. They will be glad to tell you if there truly is a fraud issue or if the only fraud was the call, text, or email you just received.

“Credit Monitoring” Misconception – Credit monitoring services are a good start when protecting your finances, but it is nothing more than a smoke alarm. Once you are alerted to the problem, you must “put out the fire.” Credit monitoring services won’t protect you, but having ID Theft Protection and Recovery can help tremendously.

“GAP Insurance” Misconception – Speaking of protection, many consumers protect themselves by purchasing guaranteed asset protection (GAP) insurance when buying a vehicle. GAP is an auto loan debt cancellation waiver that protects you financially if your vehicle is totaled or stolen and you owe more on the vehicle than your insurance will pay. Although some dealers will aggressively recommend this protection when buying a car or truck, the truth is that you can purchase GAP coverage for your vehicle at any time, allowing you to shop around for the best rate.

“Warranty” Misconception – Similar to GAP, warranties do not have to be purchased when buying a vehicle. This is especially true when buying a new car, truck, or SUV with a manufacturer’s warranty. The best time to buy an extended warranty is right before the manufacturer’s warranty is about to expire.

“20% Down” Misconception – The idea that a home buyer needs to put 20% down for a conventional mortgage is a myth. Police FCU of Omaha can suggest several options for home buyers regardless of the amount of your down payment.

That leads us to the most important takeaway: we are not a bank. We are, first and foremost, a service provider to sworn and civilian law enforcement and their families. So, if you have a need or a question, even if you may think it is pretty basic, come to us first. Police FCU of Omaha will steer you in the right direction. We are here to help Your Blue Family.

Scholarship Winners

Congratulations to the 2022 – 203 Warren A. Morrow Scholarship Winners!

Easten Kinsey, son of Jeremy and Jennifer Kinsey
Ethan Boyes, son of Nicolette Nielsen and grandson of Eric and Deb Buske
Jaxson Leahy, son of Dominique Dillon and Thomas Leahy
Zachary Swanson, son of Michael and Becki Swanson

Highlights from Episode Five of the Blue Family News Q&A Series

  • Learn how officers that desire to move into another profession can translate police language into business language on resumes and in interviews.
  • Find out the top mistakes law-enforcement professionals make when applying for jobs in the private sector.
  • Recognize how to properly read and understand job postings for open positions.
  • Discover the best places online to look for a new career.
  • Understand why networking is one of the best strategies when looking for a new career.
  • Learn what to do and not to do on social media while searching for a job.


Watch the full Blue Family Q&A.

Highlights from Episode Four of the Blue Family News Q&A Series

  • Learn why officers should remove some of their personal information online.
  • Discover the mistakes many law-enforcement families make on social media.
  • Find out ways to protect yourself online.
  • Recognize how unscrupulous people can use your posts against you.
  • Learn how to think like the bad guys do online.
  • Understand what to do with strange texts and emails.
  • Discover a few tips on how to protect yourself online.
  • Find out how protects law-enforcement families online.


Watch the full Blue Family Q&A.

Highlights from Episode Three of the Blue Family News Q&A Series

  • Understand the best time to start financial planning for college.
  • Learn about possible college scholarships.
  • Discover ways to catch up on financial planning for college if you got a late start.
  • Find out why shared branching might be the most valuable service available to members going to college away from home.
  • Discover the variety of student loans available.
  • Recognize how to build credit while going to college and why that’s important.
  • Find out the online tools to manage your finances while away at college.
  • Understand why overdraft protection can be extremely helpful while away at college.
  • Remember that if you do make a financial mistake to not be embarrassed and call your credit union for help and advice.

Watch the full Blue Family Q&A.

Highlights from Episode Two of the Blue Family News Q&A Series

  • Learn about Beyond the Call and how the program focuses on the mitigation, understanding, awareness, and strategies that improve the mental fitness of first responders.
  • Realize why mental health deserves the status of high-liability training.
  • Understand how trauma not only effects police officers but also the perspective of the communities they serve.
  • Discover how law-enforcement professionals can be at their best when those they serve are at their worst.
  • Recognize how new police officers can deal with trauma and that of the communities they serve.
  • Understand why family members should learn what to look for to support their police officer.
  • Realize why officer suicide is preventable.
  • Find out why sometimes as a police officer you just need to have a conversation with someone that understands, even anonymously.
  • Remember and be proud of the work being done as a police officer.
  • Recognize how Going Beyond the Call can save a police officer’s life.

Watch the full Blue Family Q&A.

Highlights from Episode One of the Blue Family News Q&A Series

  • Learn the work that How2LoveOurCops does for law-enforcement families throughout the country.
  • Discover why and how law-enforcement marriages are different from others, especially from the perspective of the police officer’s spouse.
  • Realize how many law-enforcement suicides are marked by the end of a marriage.
  • Find out what spouses of law-enforcement professionals need to know about their partners.
  • Understand why law-enforcement spouses need to find their voice and use it wisely.
  • Embrace the idea that the family is usually the early warning system for law-enforcement suicides.
  • Learn tips for repairing a law-enforcement marriage, starting with think “We” instead of “Me.”
  • Recognize how reviewing and understanding your finances can help relationships.

Watch the Full Blue Family Q&A Session

Top 10 Finance Tips for LEO Families

#1 Start saving early. 

You’ll never regret saving.  Saving each month in an interest-bearing account will allow your money to grow and compound.  The earlier you start saving in your career in law enforcement may mean the less time you will need to work overtime and more time with your family.

The easiest way to save money is to have a set amount automatically deposited into your savings account each pay period. Talk to a professional at Police Federal Credit Union of Omaha on how best to schedule your automatic deposits based upon your unique needs

#2 Spend wisely. 

We know this can be easier said than done. However, it’s critical to spend less than you earn.  Loans and credit cards can get you through a rough month, but don’t let this become a habit.  Ask yourself, “What do I really need?” For example, you may very well need a truck, but that three-year-old used GMC with only 19,000 miles may be exactly what you need instead of that newest model coupled with a monthly payment that blows up your entire budget.

#3 Create a budget.

Yes, this may not be the most fun activity that you do in your off time to unwind, but you’ll thank yourself for it. Not only does it help you to avoid financial crises when an appliance breaks or your roof begins to leak but also allows you to plan for enjoyable events like vacations so that you don’t feel like you are missing out. There are a number of budget apps and programs out there. Talk to a professional at Police FCU of Omaha, and we’ll be happy to steer you in the right direction.

#4 Minimize debt.

Keep debt to a minimum so you can make monthly on-time payments.  If you find you have trouble making on-time monthly payments, please seek help. Sometimes even the best of us can get into unexpected trouble. Sometimes life just happens. Police Federal Credit Union of Omaha is a financial partner you can depend on. If you are running into trouble, the sooner you come to us, the more we are likely able to do to help you.

#5 Diversification is key.

If you have already been following tip #1, you want to make your money work for you. Financial diversification is a strategy designed to reduce risk.  Be sure to consult with your financial advisor and verify that you have been taking advantage of the proper financial vehicles for your age, risk level, and family needs.


#6 Review your insurance coverage.

There’s no question that a career in law enforcement can put us in harm’s way. Make sure you and your family are covered if there is an unfortunate event. Police Federal Credit Union of Omaha offers multiple insurance products, including Line-of Duty Death Insurance, for specific loans. Review all of your insurance coverages annually to verify that you are properly insured.

#7 Financial education is always important.

Knowledge is power. It’s important to stay current on all the latest financial topics.  This doesn’t mean you need to have a Wall Street Journal tucked under your arm when you are walking into the department for your shift. However, realizing that ultimately you are responsible for your financial future creates a healthy perspective. Financial institutions, like you Police Federal Credit Union of Omaha, are resources for you. So, choose a partner that understands the banking needs of law enforcement and their families.

#8 Monitor your credit report. 

Annually check your credit report for errors and monitor your credit score. You can get a free annual credit report by visiting There are also a number of services where you can check your credit on a monthly basis. Being diligent may alert you to issues before they become a major problem.


#9 Protect your identity.

Monitoring your credit and protecting your identity go hand in hand. When choosing ID theft protection, be careful not to simply use the equivalent of a smoke alarm that simply warns you that there is a problem. You want a fire extinguisher to help you to snuff out those issues. The latter is exactly what you receive when you open a Premium Checking Account with Police Federal Credit Union of Omaha.

#10 Schedule an annual financial review.   

Reviewing all aspects of your finances on an annual basis can keep you on track. That’s why Police Federal Credit Union of Omaha is happy to conduct a Blue Review of your finances to guide you into the future. We are first and foremost a passionate financial-services provider to law enforcement and their families. We are proud to be a part of Your Blue Family and are always happy to assist you.


Protecting the Older People in Our Lives from Becoming Victims of Scams

In the last two decades, the over-65 population of the world has greatly increased, and so has the average life expectancy. In the same period, there have been dramatic advances in technology and a surge in the number of technological devices in most homes. A January 2022 Pew Research study found that 75% of adults over 65 in the United States use the internet regularly. Unfortunately, this increased use of technology brings a heightened risk of fraud for all Americans. In this article, we will address the most prevalent scams targeting our senior citizens and provide simple advice on protecting yourself and your elderly loved ones.

Why do Scammers target Older Americans?

Healthy and ailing seniors are equally targeted, as scammers repeatedly go after the life savings of the older generation. According to the Federal Reserve, at the end of Q1 of 2022, Americans aged 55 and up controlled 67.7% of all the wealth in the U.S. while representing only 21% of the population. Scammers take advantage of seniors’ lack of experience and knowledge about computers and cybersecurity.

Why Many Scams Against Seniors Go Unreported

Falling for a scam is often a source of embarrassment for older Americans as they and their loved ones may see this event as a sign of cognitive decline. But falling prey to these scams shouldn’t be a source of embarrassment, as the individuals committing these acts of fraud are highly trained experts. They successfully target people of all ages and economic and educational backgrounds. These professional criminals know what to say and how to sound incredibly convincing while adding a sense of urgency that the claim they are making must be handled immediately to avoid financial ruin. Even so, the elderly population falling victim to a scam is more likely to go unreported out of embarrassment, shame, fear, or simply not realizing that a crime has been committed. The real numbers are likely even higher because many of these thefts go unreported out of shame or lack of awareness that a crime has occurred. Unfortunately, the average amount people lose in a single scam increases with age but ranges from $600 to $1,600. This is only an average. Many higher-value scams have also been reported, upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Most Common Scams Targeting Seniors

According to a recent National Council on Aging (NCOA) report, scams targeting older adults are rising. In 2021, there were 92,371 older victims of fraud, resulting in $1.7 billion in losses. The five most common scams are summarized below, along with what to do to protect yourself and the seniors in your life.

  1. Government Impersonation Scams

If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from a government agency, such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Social Security Administration, or Medicare, be wary. Impersonators will attempt to convince you that they are acting on behalf of a legitimate agency. Never give out personal information on the phone or online when you receive a call. Hang up and call back at a published number for the agency, not a number provided to you by the caller. The impersonator may use intimidation tactics to scare you, such as saying that you owe taxes, threatening to seize your assets, or sending you to jail if you don’t act quickly. They may threaten to cut off your social security or medical benefits. Don’t be fooled. They are trying to get you to respond at the moment. A legitimate agency will never use these tactics. Remember, when in doubt… CHECK IT OUT. A legitimate government agency representative will understand if you state that you will call back to verify that this information is correct and not a fraud.

  1. Sweepstakes and Prize Scams

With the lure and excitement of winning something valuable, many victims willingly enter their bank account details to “validate their account” to receive the prize, only to find out later that funds have been removed from their account rather than added to it. Some scammers invoke the name of well-known prize organizations, like Publishers Clearing House, to instill trust, then ask for a credit card number or personal information, all intending to commit identity theft. Vacation scams might indicate a deep discount on a property that either doesn’t exist or isn’t owned by the person listing it. These offers will often stress the urgency of making a down payment immediately to lock in the discounted price. Once victims fall prey to the scam, they may receive multiple requests for information or money from the fraudsters over months or even years.

  1. Robo Call Scams

Robocalls take advantage of phone technology to simultaneously call thousands of phone numbers, hoping to find that one caller that will hold on the line long enough for a scammer to pick up the call. The robocall that everyone knows well is the expiring car warranty. These types of calls continue because they work based on the number of calls made across the country. If a person, in particular, an elder American, actually takes this call, they may purchase unwanted and unneeded items or worse. Criminals also use these robocalls to phish for personal information using a variety of pretenses. One very simple and dangerous technique used by scammers is the “Can you hear me?” scam. In this scam, the caller starts the conversation by saying, “Can you hear me?” They record the older person saying “yes.” The scammer convinces the elderly person to provide a credit card number, whether it’s a phony product or an intimidation scheme, claiming an “impending lawsuit” or fines from a government agency or police. If the senior objects to the charges, the scammer can use the recorded “yes” to state that the elder “consented” to the charges.

  1. Computer Tech Support Scams

Whether a website pop-up, an email, or a phone call, Tech Support scams are an effective way to dupe unsuspecting people into providing confidential information, credit card information, and, worse, remote control to their computer. Older citizens who may lack knowledge about computers and cybersecurity are particularly vulnerable to this scam, which goes like this. A pop-up message or blank screen on a computer or phone telling the victim their device is damaged and needs an urgent fix or data, especially precious photos, could be lost forever. When the victim calls the provided support number for help, the scammer will try to gather as much information as they can, which will help them commit other forms of fraud or identity theft. The cybercriminal may also request remote access to the older person’s computer, allowing access to credit card and bank account information. The fraudster may claim a small fee for the service, not much so that it does not set off any alerts, but the real prize is the credit card number provided for the payment, which can be used for additional fraudulent transactions later. According to the FBI’s 2021 Elder Fraud Report, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) fielded 13,900 tech support fraud complaints from older victims who suffered nearly $238 million in losses.

  1. The Grandparent Scam

Many Americans over the age of 55 have grandchildren. As a person approaches age 70 and up, those grandchildren may be teenagers or young adults. This is a predictable audience for perpetrators of The Grandparent Scam. A caller may start the call with an urgent or upset tone, saying, “Hi, Grandpa, do you know who this is?” This question instantly lowers defenses, implying that this must be someone you know. If an unaware grandparent says the name of a grandchild, the scammer will confirm, instantly securing their trust. “Is this Billy?” “Yes, it’s Billy, Grandpa. I’m in trouble.” The scammer will ask for money for urgent financial needs like a disabled vehicle, school loans, or jail bond. The criminal will ask that the grandparent pays via gift cards or money transfer so they can access the money and remain anonymous. In other versions of this scam, the caller may pretend that they are an arresting officer or lawyer, even going so far as pretending to be a courier hired by the grandchild and going to the home of the elder to pick up cash or cards.

While these five scams are the most prevalent, they are not the end of the line.

Other Scams to Watch Out For

  • Counterfeit Prescription Drugs, COVID Prevention, and Fake Anti-Aging Products. These prevalent online scams are useful to criminals to gather credit card and other personal information of unsuspecting seniors by selling substandard or ineffective treatments, which is not only a financial risk but also a health risk.
  • Fake Employment Opportunities. NCOA states that Over 15 million (or roughly 1 in 3) older adults aged 65+ are economically insecure, with an average annual income of only $25,760. In addition, these seniors may see a need to help other family members with their financial challenges. These situations make the elderly susceptible to fake “work from home” scams. The purpose of this scam is to gain the personal information of the senior, especially their Social Security number, which the scammer can sell on the black market or use for identity theft, further complicating the victim’s financial woes.
  • Sweetheart Scams. Those who have recently lost a spouse or are isolated due to medical concerns or other circumstances are especially vulnerable to people seeking to form a bond through friendship or romance. Unfortunately, heartless and unscrupulous scammers know this as well. People you meet on the internet could have a long-term motive (a year or more) to gain the trust and access to the savings of unsuspecting seniors. People 70+ years of age experience the highest incidence, with an average loss per victim of almost $10,000.

How Can You Better Protect Yourself and Your Loved One? Follow these tips from the FBI.

  • Recognize scam attempts and end all communication with the perpetrator.
  • Search online for the proposed offer’s contact information (name, email, phone number, addresses). Other people have likely posted information about individuals and businesses trying to run scams online.
  • Resist the pressure to act quickly. Scammers create a sense of urgency to produce fear and lure victims into immediate action. Call the police immediately if you feel yourself or a loved one is in danger.
  • Be cautious of unsolicited phone calls, mailings, and door-to-door service offers.
  • Never give or send any personally identifiable information, money, jewelry, gift cards, checks, or wire information to unverified people or businesses.
  • Ensure all computer anti-virus, security software, and malware protections are up to date. Use reputable anti-virus software and firewalls.
  • Disconnect from the internet and shut down your device if you see a pop-up message or locked screen. Perpetrators regularly use pop-ups to spread malicious software. Enable pop-up blockers to avoid accidentally clicking on one.
  • Be careful what you download. For example, never open an email attachment from someone you don’t know, and be wary of email attachments forwarded to you.
  • Protect your identity if a criminal gains access to your device or account. Immediately contact your financial institutions to place protections on your accounts, and monitor your accounts and personal information for suspicious activity.

How Can You Protect Your Loved Ones?

  • Keep your elderly family members and friends up to date about scams circulating online.
  • Ensure that a trusted family member or financial advisor monitors loved ones’ bank and retirement accounts, watching for suspicious withdrawals.
  • Stay in touch! Regular visits and phone calls will keep you connected with your loved ones, lessening their chance of falling victim to a scam that targets those who feel isolated. In addition, your family member might mention a strange email, a new way to get their medicine, or sweepstakes they have entered – all of these are red flags.
  • Share articles like this with them and others who help with caregiving needs. Staying current about what techniques scammers are using is the best form of protection.

As mentioned, a primary or secondary motive in these scams is collecting personal information that the criminal or others later use to commit identity theft. If you feel that you or an elderly family member has fallen victim to identity theft, call us immediately to speak to one of our Identity Theft Recovery Advocates. Quickly recognizing and addressing the issue will minimize damage to your accounts and identity. In addition, Premier Checking Account holders have access to specialists around the clock who can answer your questions, address your concerns, and advise you on the best next steps to get back on track.

Unemployment Fraud: How it Works and How to Fight It.

Unemployment Fraud: How it Works and How to Fight It.

Across the nation, identity thieves are exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic by committing Unemployment Benefits Fraud, which is filing for and collecting unemployment benefits fraudulently by using the identity of someone still employed. This type of scam is very difficult to detect. Sometimes the employer is the first one to know that a scam has taken place by receiving a notice of an unemployment claim from employees who are still very much employed.

Let’s take a quick look at how this scam works. It is important to know how to react quickly to minimize the damage.

Fraudulent claims of unemployment are rampant. States’ unemployment offices across the nation have been targeted for fraudulent claims of unemployment even before the pandemic began, but the activity level has drastically increased over the last year to the point that it is the number one type of identity theft issue reported. Fraudsters are counting on the fact that the unemployment office is overwhelmed with claims, and the state is trying to minimize the financial impact of the pandemic on suffering citizens by processing the claims more readily than it might in the past. If criminals flood a particular state with bogus claims, pressure mounts to move documents through the process, and that just makes it easier for fraudulent attempts to get approved.

How unemployment fraud works. The identity thief collects the personal information of an individual, along with the individual’s place of employment, through one or more previous data breach incidents. Unfortunately, this is all too easy. The thief files for unemployment benefits in the state of residence of the individual, impersonating the worker. The thief typically requests that the funds be deposited into a bank account set up for this purpose.