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Scam Alert: Fake Purchase

Scammers are getting creative – finding new and inventive ways to get to your money and personal information. Before you click the link or call the number in that latest text or email, read on to learn about the latest scam(s) and how you can protect yourself.

Is that text or email about a delivery the real thing?

Several members have reported a new scam tactic that attempts to take over devices as well as coerce members into withdrawing funds from their accounts.

The scam goes something like this:

  • Member receives an email or text stating that their purchase is scheduled to be delivered that day. The dollar amount is usually high – something like $899.
  • The communication advises the member to contact the merchant if they did not make this purchase, at the number provided in the communication.
  • When calling the number, the operator will answer as the merchant’s Customer Service department.
  • They will tell the member that their account has been compromised – both their merchant account and their Horizon account.
  • They will ask you to download an app in order to re-establish your merchant account. While it may be a legitimate application, the scammer uses is to gain control of your device including personal information, usernames and passwords. It is not required, nor necessary, to download any app other than the merchant’s official app.
  • Next they will tell you that they are connecting you with a fraud specialist at Horizon. The individual often knows that last few transactions to your card or account, which makes them seem to be a legitimate representative from the credit union. That individual then advises the member to withdraw a significant amount of cash from their Horizon account and either: 1) deposit it at a non-Horizon ATM or 2) purchase gift cards and send them. They will advise that you avoid going to your local branch due to suspected internal fraud.

Signs this is a scam

  • Unsolicited communications. Have you signed up for text or email alerts for purchases from this merchant? If not, it’s likely a scam.
  • Transferring your call to your financial institution. Merchants do not have a direct connection to your financial institution. If they tell you they can transfer your call to your financial institution, it’s a scam.
  • Directing you to download an app. If they advise you to download any app other than their primary store app, it is likely a scam.
  • Asking you to withdraw funds. If you are asked to withdraw cash and deposit it to another financial institution or purchase gift cards, it is absolutely a scam.
  • Telling you to avoid branch employees. If they tell you to avoid local credit union employees, it is a scam.

Steps to protect your accounts

  • Never download unfamiliar applications. Always download apps from your device’s app store or directly from the merchant’s site.
  • Never call the number provided in the text or email. Look up the merchant’s number and dial it directly to ensure you are being directed to the merchant and not a scammer. Always contact Horizon Credit Union directly. We’ll be happy to review the scenario with you to identify and resolve any fraudulent activity.
  • Set alerts on the merchant’s site. Set alerts on the merchant’s site so you know when purchases are made. This can also help you become familiar with what a legitimate notice from the merchant looks like (though scammers can often replicate them well).
  • Guard your card. Download Horizon’s Card Valet app and set alerts for activity. You can learn more at hzcu.org/guardyourcard.
  • Set alerts on your accounts. Sign up for and actively use mobile or online banking.  You can set alerts for activity to ensure you’re immediately aware of any new transactions. 
  • Update and strengthen passwords. It’s a good idea to update passwords often and use strong, hard to guess passwords.
  • Don’t share personal information on social media. Many seemingly innocent interactions are actually intended to gather information that could be used to compromise your accounts such as:
    • your first concert
    • your first car
    • the last purchase you made
    • your favorite food

At Horizon Credit Union, we’re always here to help!  If you suspect any suspicious activity please give us a call and we’ll work with you to identify whether or not it’s a scam and, if necessary, resolve any fraudulent activity on your Horizon accounts.

For more tips to protect your accounts and personal information please visit hzcu.org/staysecure