Scam Awareness and Prevention

Remember: Community West Credit Union will never ask you for account numbers or passwords by phone, email, or text.
If you receive a suspicious email, text, or call claiming to be from Community West, hang up and call us at 616.261.5657.

Types of Scams

Phishing, Vishing, and Smishing

Phishing: Uses fake emails that look like they came from a legitimate source—such as your credit union. The message typically includes a notice of unusual activity on your account along with a sense of urgency to get in contact with them by clicking a link, calling a phone number, or sending a text reply on your mobile phone. This is an attempt to entice you to share your sensitive information, which can lead down a devastating path to identity and financial theft.

Smishing: This is exactly like phishing. It is an attempt to solicit your personal information – only the channel is via text messaging.

Vishing: You may receive a follow-up call if you interact with the fraudulent text message. This is a combination attack by a phone call rather than email or text message. If you receive a phone call asking to provide confidential information about your accounts, we recommend hanging up immediately and contacting your financial institution. When in doubt, always contact Community West for any questions regarding your accounts or loans.

Romance Scams

Did you know, fraudsters often pose as someone special on a dating website or app? Soon they want to email, call, or message you to get you off the platform. They will tug at your heartstrings, saying it’s true love, but they live far away —for work or because they’re in the military. Then they start asking for money. Maybe it’s for a plane ticket to visit you, emergency surgery, or something else urgent. Romance scammers create fake profiles on dating sites and apps or contact you through social media messengers like Instagram or Facebook. The scammers create a relationship with you to build up trust, making you feel good, and sometimes will talk or chat several times a day. Then, they make up a story and ask for money. There will always be a sense of urgency to pressure you into acting immediately, but it’s a scam!

Tech Support Scams

Scammers impersonate well-known tech companies promising to fix non-existent issues or renew fraudulent software or security applications. These fraudsters will often request remote access to your device. Once access is given, they can install malware that lets them hack into your computer. Tech companies do not call individuals to report problems. If you receive a call out of the blue or due to clicking on a link from a pop-up message, do not act immediately. Bring the device to a local electronic store to be serviced, or run virus detection software on the impacted device to identify any issues.

Gift Card Scams

The call or email is urgent, you need to pay right away or something terrible will happen. This is a pressure tactic to act quickly with no time to think or talk to someone you trust. A scammer might ask you to pay for something by putting money on a gift card, like a Google Play or iTunes card, and request that you give them the numbers on the back of the card. If they ask you to do this, they’re trying to scam you. No real business or government agency will ever insist you pay them with a gift card. Anyone who demands to be paid with a gift card is a scammer.

Other Scams

Elder Scams: Scammers are tricking seniors into sending their “grandchildren” money or paying for fake services.

Job Scams: Do not pay for work. No real job will ask you to pay to start a job!

Social Engineering Fraud: Fraudsters will act like customer support representatives from utility companies or financial institutions where the victims have accounts.

Secret Shopper: People will pose as companies offering mystery shopping services to dupe shoppers out of money.

Advanced Fee: The victims of this type of scam will be asked to wire upfront fees for a false promise of receiving money.

Scam Red Flags

Scams are designed to build a sense of trust and urgency. Fraudsters may use intimidation tactics.
  • Don’t always trust the name – our email domain is @communitywestcu.org, not @comunitywestcu.org, @communitywest.org, or @communitywestcu.com – look for differences every time.
  • Check for misspelled words, bad grammar, and/or typos within the content – emails, text, or pop-ups.
  • Be cautious of clicking links and opening attachments – Don’t click unless you are confident of the sender or are expecting the attachment
  • Do not provide personal or account information when asked. Openly sharing information on social media can provide the necessary information to impersonate you or answer some challenge questions.
  • Do not share one-time passcodes sent via text or email
  • Check email salutations – many legitimate businesses will use a branded email signature
  • Be suspicious of “urgent” or “immediate” response needed or “unauthorized login attempt” of your account
  • Know the IRS or Social Security Administration will never contact you by phone, email, text, or social media
  • Don’t believe everything you see. Brand logos, names, and addresses may appear legitimate
  • Be suspicious of random or unusual groups of people (e.g., all last names begin with the same letter) on the to/recipient list
  • Watch for emails or texts that appear to be a reply to a message that you didn’t send
  • Monitor the sender’s email address for suspicious URLs & domains – using similar letters and numbers
  • If something seems suspicious– contact that source with a new email or phone call rather than just responding or replying directly to the email, text, or call
  • Be wary of offers that appear too good to be true, require fast action, or instill a sense of fear
  • Keep social media accounts private and be cautious about who you’re connecting with
  • Never share anything related to your credit union account, transactional history, or identifying information in an unprotected public forum

Steps to Rebuild Your Identity

Contact us immediately at 616.261.5657 or visit a Community West Credit Union branch to assist in safeguarding your account. 

These are some recommended actions if you suspect your personal information was stolen: 

  1. Report the incident to law enforcement.   
  1. Contact any one of the three credit reporting agencies to place a fraud alert.  A report to one will be forwarded to the other two agencies by the agency receiving the report of identity theft.  All three companies will mail a confirmation letter that contains information on how to order the credit reports for each credit reporting agency. The three credit reporting agencies contact information is as follows: 
  • TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance division, PO Box 2000, Chester PA 19022-2000. 
  • Equifax:  1-888-766-0008; www.equifax.com; PO Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241. 
  • Experian:  1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com; PO Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013 
  1. View your credit reports. Credit reports should be obtained from all three credit reporting agencies you can obtain free credit reports from each agency from the following website annualcreditreport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228
  1. Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at https://www.identitytheft.gov/ or (877) ID-THEFT (438-4338. This helps the FTC monitor and report to the government exactly what has happened to a consumer. The FTC suggests an identity theft victim complete and send a Fraud Affidavit to the vendors/merchants that are attempting to collect a debt from the victim in cases were the identity thief acquired the debt not the victim. The Fraud Affidavit can be obtained at the following web address:  https://www.identitytheft.gov/ 

Ways to Protect Your Information

Online Tips
  • When entering personal information, ensure you are on a secure website.
    *Look for the lock symbol 🔒 or https, before the website address. 
  • Create strong, unique passwords for all of your online logins using our tips.
  • Consider using two-step authentication.
Email, Text, and Phone Tips
  • Do not open emails or text messages if you don’t recognize the sender’s name. When in doubt, delete!
  • Never respond to emails or text messages with personal banking or credit card information.
  • Never provide debit or credit card numbers or PINs in response to unsolicited emails.
  • Never use email to send your confidential information, since internet email is not secure.
  • Be cautious about giving confidential information over the phone, or through text messages, to callers you don’t know.
Anti-virus Software: What's Safe?
  • Update anti-virus software and security patches to your system software regularly.
  • Perform software updates to your mobile devices to avoid malware specifically targeting smartphones, tablets, and other similar electronics.
Credit Report and Financial Monitoring
  • Review your credit report once a year.
  • Check your monthly statements to verify all transactions and notify your financial institution of any suspicious transactions.
  • Tear up or shred any pre-approved credit offers that you do not want.
  • Report lost or stolen checks and credit cards immediately. Close accounts that have been tampered with.

As a precaution, make photocopies of both sides of the contents of your wallet and keep the copies in a safe place. If anything should happen, you will have copies of your cards, complete with account numbers and contact information.

With Community West Credit Union, you can keep your finances safe and reduce risk with help from a trusted partner in your financial well-being. For more information about preventing fraud, fraud protection, credit fraud protection, and card fraud protection services from Community West Credit Union, visit one of our five branches in Comstock Park, Grandville, Kentwood, Middleville, or Rockford, or give us a call today.

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