Scams and Fraud

Security is a primary concern for Austin Telco Federal Credit Union. In order to help educate and safeguard our members, we have implemented this page to keep you up-to-date on current fraudulent schemes, scams and general security alerts. Please check back frequently as we plan to update this page as information is provided to us.

Scam and Fraud Videos

Here is a collection of videos that help explain the different types of scams and frauds and what to do about them.

AARP Scam/Fraud Videos

Austin Telco Number Spoofing Scam

A recent scam involving phone number spoofing has seen a rise in the last few months. It has been brought to our attention that members of Austin Telco have been called by a fraudster using Austin Telco’s phone number on their caller ID only to discover that the fraudster was attempting to get information from their account.

Scammers have used phone number spoofing in the past, but now are using your financial institution’s name and number to attempt to get personal information from you. Below is how the scam usually works:

Fraudsters clone (or spoof) the actual phone number of the financial institution you are currently with; on your caller ID, the phone number will appear just as if you were getting a call from them. When you answer, the fraudster will usually mention working for your financial institution and that there has been unusual activity on your account. They’ll then try and persuade you to give out private account information such as your PIN or password to your account.

In some cases, to ensure they have your trust, the fraudster will mention calling the number on the back of your card or your financial institute directly. Instead of hanging up to allow you to do this, they act as if they terminated the line and will even play a fake dial tone on their end. Once you dial the number for your financial institute, they will resume the call as if it were you initiating it.

Remember, Austin Telco will never call you and ask for your Online Banking password nor will we ever have you input your Debit Card PIN into the phone. If you ever have any doubt of who is on the line, terminate the call yourself and contact us immediately. Along with this, you can also ensure your account safety by:

  • Setting up Account Alerts to let you know when a transaction occurs or someone logs into it.
  • Keep a password lock on your phone and Online Banking App
  • Do not use public WiFi networks to log in to Online Banking.
  • Change your Online Banking password often.
  • When checking Online Banking in a public place, be sure to watch for shoulder surfers trying to see you put in your password.

Anatomy of a Fake Check

Fake check scams are everywhere, and they are slowly becoming more common and causing members of financial institutes to lose more money each year. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published an article with an Infographic that better explains how these fake check scams work and how to avoid them. To see this article, please click here.

Felony Lane Gang

Recent activity from a fraudster ring called the “Felony Lane Gang” has been reported in the Austin area. Since 2004, the FLG has defrauded US financial institutions out of millions of dollars by cashing stolen checks and making fraudulent withdrawals using stolen identity documents. These individuals steal personal information by taking purses and personal items left in cars. They then attempt to cash stolen checks. Authorities note that gyms, stores, and daycare parking lots have been specific targets. Always take purses and valuables with you when exiting your vehicle, even for short stops. If you witness the break in, you should not attempt to apprehend the subjects; instead, you should immediately contact the local police department and notify Austin Telco if your cards, checks, or any form of identification has been stolen.

Telemarketing Fraud Against Seniors

If you are age 60 or older—and especially if you are an older woman living alone—you may be a special target of people who sell bogus products and services by telephone. Telemarketing scams often involve offers of free prizes, low-cost vitamins and health care products, and inexpensive vacations. There are warning signs to these scams. If you hear these—or similar—“lines” from a telephone salesperson, just say “no thank you,” and hang up the telephone:

  • “You must act now, or the offer won’t be good.”
  • “You’ve won a free gift, vacation, or prize.” But you have to pay for “postage and handling” or other charges.
  • “You must send money, give a credit card or bank account number, or have a check picked up by courier.” You may hear this before you have had a chance to consider the offer carefully.
  • “You don’t need to check out the company with anyone.” The callers say you do not need to speak to anyone, including your family, lawyer, accountant, local Better Business Bureau, or consumer protection agency.
  • “You don’t need any written information about the company or its references.”
  • "You can’t afford to miss this high-profit, no-risk offer.”

Tips for Avoiding Telemarketing Fraud

  • Don’t buy from an unfamiliar company. Legitimate businesses understand that you want more information about their company and are happy to comply.
  • Always ask for and wait until you receive written material about any offer or charity. If you get brochures about costly investments, ask someone whose financial advice you trust to review them. But, unfortunately, beware—not everything written down is true.
  • Always check out unfamiliar companies with your local consumer protection agency, Better Business Bureau, state attorney general, the National Fraud Information Center, or other watchdog groups. Unfortunately, not all bad businesses can be identified through these organizations.
  • Obtain a salesperson’s name, business identity, telephone number, street address, mailing address, and business license number before you transact business. Some con artists give out false names, telephone numbers, addresses, and business license numbers. Verify the accuracy of these items.
  • Before you give money to a charity or make an investment, find out what percentage of the money is paid in commissions and what percentage actually goes to the charity or investment.
  • Before you send money, ask yourself a simple question. “What guarantee do I really have that this solicitor will use my money in the manner we agreed upon?”
  • Don’t pay in advance for services. Pay services only after they are delivered.
  • Be wary of companies that want to send a messenger to your home to pick up money, claiming it is part of their service to you. In reality, they are taking your money without leaving any trace of who they are or where they can be reached.
  • Always take your time making a decision. Legitimate companies won’t pressure you to make a snap decision.
  • Don’t pay for a “free prize.” If a caller tells you the payment is for taxes, he or she is violating federal law.
  • Before you receive your next sales pitch, decide what your limits are—the kinds of financial information you will and won’t give out on the telephone.
  • Be sure to talk over big investments offered by telephone salespeople with a trusted friend, family member, or financial advisor. It’s never rude to wait and think about an offer.
  • Never respond to an offer you don’t understand thoroughly.
  • Never send money or give out personal information such as credit card numbers and expiration dates, bank account numbers, dates of birth, or social security numbers to unfamiliar companies or unknown persons.
  • Be aware that your personal information is often brokered to telemarketers through third parties.
  • If you have been victimized once, be wary of persons who call offering to help you recover your losses for a fee paid in advance.
  • If you have information about a fraud, report it to state, local, or federal law enforcement agencies.

Reverse Mortgage Scam Against Seniors

The FBI and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General (HUD-OIG) urge consumers, especially older citizens, to be vigilant when seeking reverse mortgage products. Reverse mortgages, also known as home equity conversion mortgages (HECM), have increased more than 1,300 percent between 1999 and 2008, creating significant opportunities for fraud perpetrators.

?Reverse mortgage scams are engineered by unscrupulous professionals in a multitude of real estate, financial services, and related companies to steal the equity from the property of unsuspecting older citizens or to use these citizens to unwittingly aid the fraudsters in stealing equity from a flipped property.

In many of the reported scams, victim citizens are offered free homes, investment opportunities, and foreclosure or refinance assistance. They are also used as straw buyers in property flipping scams. Older citizens are frequently targeted through local churches and investment seminars, as well as television, radio, billboard, and mailer advertisements.

A legitimate HECM loan product is insured by the Federal Housing Authority. It enables eligible homeowners to access the equity in their homes by providing funds without incurring a monthly payment. Eligible borrowers must be 62 years or older who occupy their property as their primary residence and who own their property or have a small mortgage balance.