Scam Phone Calls - What You Should Know to Protect Yourself.

Bearded man looking at smart phone standing in front of window

Over the last several years there has been a reported increase in scam or phishing calls.  These callers use various methods to make you believe that the call is legitimate, even going so far as to hijack a legitimate phone number to make it appear they are calling from a company or institution that you deal with. Anyone’s phone number can be spoofed at any time.

How can you avoid that? 

  • There are apps such as TrapCall available on Android and iOS devices that will deter the call from coming through in the first place.
  • Get on the Do Not Call list. While this service stops legitimate telemarketing companies from contacting you, that doesn’t deter the fraudsters from dialing you. The benefit of being on the Do Not Call list is simple – the less places that call you, the less likely you will become the victim of a scam.
  • Screen your calls. This sounds too simple, but it really is that easy. Even if the number looks legitimate, let it go to voicemail or ignore the call and then call back. The scammers can spoof the number calling you, but when you dial out to the real number, you’ll get the real deal.

Scare Tactics.

Have you heard the one about the grandma who wired a bunch of money to someone in Mexico because she received a panicked phone call from her “grandson” saying he had been kidnapped and she had to pay the ransom? Talk about scary. These scammers use fear against you. They will create a sense of urgency and make it sound as if you don’t take immediate action – the sky will fall.  Common scare-tactic scams include:

  • You owe money to the IRS and if you don’t pay it, we’re coming to arrest you.
  • You owe money to the electric company and if you don’t pay it, we’re coming to shut your power off.
  • You skipped jury duty and now you have a warrant – unless you pay now, we will come arrest you.
  • Your credit/debit card account is negative or past due and if you don’t pay us now, we’re blocking your card(s).
    • Great NorthWest FCU will of course make attempts to reach you if your loans are past due, however, we will never ask for payment in gift cards, prepaid cards, money orders or wire transfers. If you ever receive a call referencing your Great NorthWest FCU loans or cards and feel it may not be legitimate – hang up and call us directly. Also see our Account Security Page for more information on how we work every day to protect your account information.

How can you avoid that?

It’s easy to say, but remain calm. Take a moment to breathe and really think about the situation. Let the caller know that you don’t have the information available and you will have to call back. If they insist on payment now or request your card information – just hang up. Remember that they are purposely trying to fluster you.

There are many resources available online to help protect yourself. One of our favorites is the Federal Trade Commission.  We share their articles often, but you can always visit their site and read up on the latest. Also, if you ever receive a scam phone call, visit the FTC to file a complaint - even if you weren't a victim.

If you ever receive a call from someone stating that they are with the credit union and they are going to block your card or account unless you give them information, hang up and call us directly. It’s better to be safe than sorry.