Iowa Credit Unions caution Iowans of online scams

The Iowa credit union industry is continuing to warn Iowans of online scams and text message “smishing” attempts aimed at stealing personal and financial information. 

Scams through Facebook Marketplace also have become increasingly prevalent. 

Smishing is where text messages appear to be from a consumer’s financial institution and try to trick the consumer into revealing their account number or other personally-identifiable information. 

According to recent reports from the Internal Revenue Service, thousands of fraudulent domains tied to multiple MMS/SMS/text scams have been reported in 2022. In recent months, smishing attempts have increased exponentially.

Scams join Facebook

Additionally, there have been recent reports of scams within Facebook Marketplace. While it is a common place for consumers to buy and sell goods, people should be cautious when exchanging items with someone online. Knowing certain red flags can help consumers avoid these scams in the future. 

Marketplace red flags include:

  • An overpayment: If you receive an overpayment, decline the charge or check and ask the buyer to send you the correct amount. 
  • Moving the dialogue off Facebook to your phone: Often in these instances, the other party will ask for your phone number and say that they want to text you a code to “prove you are real.” 
  • The Zelle “Business Account” scam: This is a scam the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has warned consumers about in the past. If you are asked to upgrade your Zelle account or another digital wallet app to accept money from a buyer, it’s likely a scam. 
  • Shipping mishaps: Always track the item to ensure it arrives at its destination. Some buyers will demand refunds claiming they never received their item. Keep the proof that your package arrived at its destination. 
  • Fake vacation homes or apartment listings: Google the address to make sure the location exists and if it looks representative to what is being shown online. Verify the validity of the rental by contacting the property listing manager directly. 

“Phishing attempts and online scams are continuing to put Iowans’ financial data at risk,” Vice President of the Iowa Credit Union League Jaimie Miller said in a statement. “Consumers need to remain vigilant when interacting online and receiving suspicious text messages. If you are uncertain about who is contacting you or been scammed, get in touch with your credit union or bank immediately.” 

Financial institutions will never ask for personal information, including Social Security numbers and full account numbers. 

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a helpful guide on how to spot text message scams here.