In the ever-evolving landscape of online interactions, it’s crucial to stay vigilant and informed about the latest scams targeting unsuspecting individuals. As your trusted financial partner, UTFCU is committed to keeping you aware and empowered.

Here are some common scams we are seeing in 2024:


Phishing Scams

Scammers are spoofing financial institution caller IDs to call and ask people for their banking and personal information. Bank customers and credit union members — including UTFCU members — are being targeted. Our members have reported getting calls or text messages that look like they’re from UTFCU, but they’re actually from scammers.

Here’s how the scam works:
  • Through a variety of ways, a scammer steals card numbers (online retailer data breaches, etc.). Then:
  • The scammer calls the victim, using a fake caller ID to appear as though it’s coming from the bank or credit union the card belongs to, and asks the victim to verify recent charges.
  • When the victim says they’re fraudulent, the scammer asks for additional, personal/sensitive / security information like Social Security Numbers, PINs, verification codes, etc. to “confirm” the victim’s identity.
  • If the victim gives them the information and/or code(s), the scammer can activate the cards in a digital wallet, work to gain access to online banking, and start spending the victim’s money.
UTFCU will never CALL YOU and ask for your:
  • PIN number
  • Digital banking username and password
  • CVV2 code on your card(s)
  • Full Social Security number
  • Verification codes of any kind
What can you do?
  • If you’re suspicious in any way, hang up and call UTFCU directly at (865) 971-1971.
  • Never click on a link in an email or text that claims to be from UTFCU unless you’re sure it’s really from UTFCU.
  • Never give the above-mentioned information over the phone or via email, text, or social media – even if they claim to be from UTFCU.


Cryptocurrency Scams

Scammers are continually finding new ways to separate people from their money. Lately, they’ve turned their attention to cryptocurrencies for one simple reason: payments made in cryptocurrency are difficult to trace.

What are cryptocurrencies?

Cryptocurrency is any digital currency and alternative form of payment in which transactions are managed by a decentralized online system. No central authority manages or maintains the value of a cryptocurrency, and there is no use of money or coins.

Although cryptocurrencies can be used to buy regular goods and services online, many people invest in them as they would in other assets, like stocks or precious metals. Scammers rely on the fact that cryptocurrencies are relatively new and difficult to understand. They prey on the fact that individuals may not fully understand how this currency functions and will make up false information to confuse people.

How are cryptocurrencies used in scams?
  • As a Requested Method of PaymentWhile the type of scam may vary, such as a Social Security scam, a tech support scam, a romance scam, etc., the fraudster requests an untraceable type of payment such as cryptocurrency or gift cards. Once the funds have been sent, they are nearly impossible to get back.

  • Investment Scams: This scam uses the price speculations of cryptocurrencies to create a false investment opportunity. You receive a text, email, or call about a cryptocurrency investment opportunity and receive a link to a fraudulent website which looks legitimate. The scammer convinces you to open cryptocurrency trading account to which they have secret access, and they make it look like your investment is growing. After a few of these “trades” the fraudster withdraws all your investments, the “account” is gone, and the funds untraceable.
Red flags of a cryptocurrency scam:
  • If you are instructed to not trust UTFCU, or to respond to questions in untruthful ways, this is a scam. Anyone who advises you to not trust your credit union or bank is a scammer.

  • If anyone requests you withdraw cash and deposit it to a Bitcoin ATM, or to send money to a cryptocurrency account, it’s a scam. Scammers will send you the QR code associated with the account the money should be deposited to. Once the cash has been deposited to the account or in the ATM, there is no way to get your money back.

  • Investment-related cryptocurrency scams are often facilitated through social media websites, applications, and online dating websites. After gaining your trust and developing a bond, your love interest may present an exciting opportunity if you send them money. This is a scam; never send money to anyone you don’t know or have not met in person.

  • Legitimate law enforcement agencies (such as local police, the FBI, Secret Service, etc.) and government agencies (like the IRS or Social Security Administration) will NEVER ask you to send cryptocurrency as payment for anything.

  • Like Gift Cards, any stranger requesting for a payment to be made with cryptocurrencies is very likely to be a scam.


Imposter and Device Takeover Scams

Individuals with limited technical knowledge are often targeted in imposter and device takeover scams. The scam typically unfolds with a contact initiated either by the scammer or through a deceptive pop-up on the victim’s computer or a text/email encouraging them to call. The fraudster then gains access to the victim’s device under the guise of offering technical assistance. We have seen a recent scam of this nature in which the fraudsters posed as technical assistance chat support via a fake streaming video website and used a remote tool called Imperius Remote to gain access to our member's device.

Once access is obtained, the scam progresses to setting up a transaction, often involving payment for services or assistance in disputing a transaction. The scammer may request access to online banking or credit card information. Victims are manipulated into returning funds in a discreet manner, usually through gift cards or wire transfers.

To protect yourself, refrain from giving access to your devices to unknown entities. Verify the legitimacy of any technical support requests and be cautious when sharing sensitive information. If you encounter any suspicious activity, report it immediately.


Romance Scams

Romance scams are all over the internet and can be difficult to spot.

In a romance ruse, a scammer will create a bogus online profile and attempt to connect to people on dating apps and websites, as well as through social media platforms. After a connection is formed, the scammer will work to build up the relationship with the victim, calling and texting often. Once the scammer has gained the victim’s trust, the scammer will spin a sorry story and ask the victim for money.

The scammer may explain that they cannot meet in person because they are currently living or traveling outside the United States. They’ll claim to be a doctor working for an international organization, a blue-collar worker in the middle of a construction project or to be part of the military and currently serving overseas. They may ask for money to help cover travel expenses, pay for medical treatment, cover customs fees at the airport or to pay for a visa or other official travel documents.

The scammer will ask for payment via wire transfer or prepaid debit card. Once they’ve received the funds, they will disappear. Alternatively, the scammer will ask their “date” to share personal financial information and then go on to empty the victim’s accounts.

Look out for these romance scam red flags:
  • Profile is too good to be true. If a person’s profile has unrealistic credentials, including a magazine-worthy photo, you’re likely looking at a scam.
  • The person rushes into the relationship. If the contact comes on too strong, too fast, it may be a scam.
  • The person asks you for money. Don’t believe a money-starved story of someone you just met online, especially if they start asking you to help them out. Whatever the sob story, it will have three key elements. One, it will be couched in terms of love or relationship advancement. Your new squeeze may make a sudden confession of love first, or pressure you by saying you need to prove your love. Two, there will be a specific reason why the money must be transferred using an insecure method, like Western Union. The scammer may not have a checking account, or may not have time to wait for a check to clear. Third, there will be a significant urgency. You will have to decide right then whether or not to help, and not helping will be the end of your budding romance.

Keep dialogues going with people you may be interested in talking to and find another way to communicate with them. Consider creating a dating site-only email address that contains very little information about you (other than your first name) and providing that to potential matches if your subscription is about to expire.


Online Marketplace Scams

Online marketplaces have become breeding grounds for scams, with fraudulent buyers exploiting sellers by overpaying for items and requesting the excess funds to be sent elsewhere. They often use checks for payment, creating a situation where the victim sends money in guaranteed funds, only to later discover that the check was fraudulent.

Checks, including cashier’s checks, are not guaranteed funds and can take about a week to bounce when invalid. Protect yourself by verifying checks directly with the issuing financial institution. For added security, also consider using cash or instant transfer systems for online transactions.


By staying alert and adopting safe online practices, you can help protect yourself and others from falling victim to financial fraud. If you ever encounter suspicious activity or have concerns that you have fallen victim to a scam, please contact us immediately by calling (865) 971-1971 or stopping by any UTFCU branch location.
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