Fraud Prevention

Some easy ways to protect yourself from fraud are to keep anything with your personal or account information in a safe place, provide your information only to trusted sources and reduce the amount of mail you receive with personal information.

To learn more about identity theft and protecting yourself, view the Identity Protection module in our Financial Education Center or choose one of the topics below to learn more:

Quick Tip

Palmetto Citizens will never contact you by phone, text or email to solicit personal information. If any person or electronic media does so and claims to be from PCFCU, please contact us immediately.

Telephone, Email & Text Scams

Tens of thousands of fraudulent phone calls, emails and texts go out every day asking people to provide, confirm or update personal or financial information. Protect yourself and never respond, provide any information or click any links.

Fraud is constantly evolving, so please always be on guard for anything that seems suspicious. The goal of criminals who engineer these types of attacks is to get your personal and/or financial data so they can gain access to your account(s) and/or steal your identity.

Please note, Palmetto Citizens will never contact you and ask you provide your account information, such as a card number, PIN, CVV code or online banking login information. If any person or electronic media does so and claims to be from Palmetto Citizens, please do not provide any personal information.

Phone Number Spoofing: Be aware fraudsters can spoof any phone number to make it appear to be from Palmetto Citizens, or any company. Be suspicious of any call received from an unknown number and don't assume the number shown on caller ID is valid.

  • If the caller is a live person, ask if you can call them back to verify the number being provided. If they're spoofing a legitimate number, the fraudster will not be able to answer if you call back, the actual company will receive the call.
  • If the call is an automated recording requesting account information, do not provide any data, hang up, and call the organization being represented.

Should you have any questions or you feel you have been targeted by fraudulent activity, contact us immediately.

Review Your Credit Report

It is important you understand the information on your credit report because it directly impacts your ability to obtain a credit card, buy a car or home, rent an apartment or even get a job. You should review it for accuracy, and for protection from fraud or identity theft.

You can get a free credit report from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) every 12 months. Some consumers elect to get one report every four months, providing a staggered look at their credit status. Through April 2021, you can now get your free credit report online weekly from each of the three reporting agencies.

www.annualcreditreport.com is the only authorized online source for you to get a free credit report under federal law. You may also receive your free credit report by calling 1-877-322-8228.

Card Skimming

Credit and debit card skimming is on the rise across the country and one of the leading causes of card fraud locally.

Thieves install electronic skimmers over card readers on ATMs, gas pumps, etc. along with small cameras or keypad overlays to record PINs. They come back later to remove the devices and access the card data collected.

Protect yourself and be alert! Check a card reader before inserting your card. Pull on or jiggle it - fraudulent devices are usually easy to move/remove; valid ones won't be. If you detect a skimmer, remove it and call law enforcement immediately.

Document Shredding

Someone can steal your identity and rack up thousands of dollars against you just by going through your trash. You should buy a cross-cut shredder and use it often! Palmetto Citizens also hosts a series of no-cost shredding events for our community.

To help protect yourself, consider shredding any unneeded documents, including junk mail, containing personal information, such as: Social Security Numbers, account numbers, passwords/PINS, birth dates, signatures or contact information (names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses).

Monitor Your Accounts & Set Up Alerts

To help protect your accounts from fraudulent activity, you should monitor them regularly by logging in online or viewing your account statement. If you see any unauthorized activity, contact the financial institution or company immediately.

You should also consider establishing text and/or email alerts on your accounts to help stay up-to-date on any activity. To set up alerts for your Palmetto Citizens account(s), log into online or mobile banking and choose 'Alerts & Notices' from the menu. You can establish alerts based on transactions, balances and more.

In addition, make sure your phone numbers, mailing addresses and email addresses are current with all your accounts so they can contact you should they detect any fraudulent activity. To verify your information with Palmetto Citizens, log into your account online or with our app and choose 'Settings' from the menu.

Practice Password Safety

You should log into your online banking, email and other online accounts regularly and change your passwords every few months. Always use strong passwords which are difficult to guess and avoid using the same password for multiple accounts.

To make sure you have a strong password, you should use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. You should always avoid using obvious personal information, such as: birthdays, anniversaries, addresses, child or pet names, etc.

Never give out your passwords to anyone or leave them written down next to your computer or anywhere someone can find them.

Opting Out of Pre-Approved Credit Offers

You can remove your name from any list compiled by a credit reporting agency that can be sold and used for pre-approved credit offers. To opt out, visit www.optoutprescreen.com or call (888) 5OPTOUT or (888) 567-8688. This website and phone number can be used to remove your name from all three agencies. You may also visit each agency's website for their individual instructions.

Fake Check Scams

There is no legitimate reason why anyone would give you a check or money order and ask you to send money anywhere in return. If that is the deal, it is a scam.

Phony sweepstakes, lotteries and grants, work-at-home schemes, foreign business deals and other scams are not new and do not always involve fake checks – sometimes the crooks simply ask you to send money. However, using realistic-looking checks or money orders makes their stories more convincing.

Fraud is constantly evolving, so be on guard for anything that seems suspicious. Since money sent to crooks is often gone forever, STOP, THINK, and GET ADVICE first from your state or local consumer protection agency.

Common Elder Financial Abuse Scams

To learn more about this topic, view the Preventing Elder Financial Abuse module in our Financial Education Center.

Financial exploitation is a fast-growing form of abuse targeted at senior citizens. According to the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA), about one in 20 older adults experienced some form of perceived financial mistreatment but only one in 44 cases are ever reported.

Financial abuse can take many forms. Statistics show the majority of these types of crimes against senior citizens are carried out by relatives or someone in a trusting relationship with the victim, but scams by strangers are also very common.

Below are some of these types of scams aimed at older Americans you should be familiar with to help protect yourself or your loved ones:

  • Health Care Scams: A scammer calls and poses as a Medicare or insurance company representative. They will make up a story and ask for Social Security or insurance numbers.
  • Home Improvement Scams: Someone will claim to be a contractor and attempt to coerce the victim into making a large pre‐payment for home repairs. The work is either poorly done or never finished.
  • Person-in-Need Scams: Scammers prey on victims’ emotional vulnerability by claiming to be a loved one who needs money quickly to help with an emergency.
  • Prize/Lottery Scams: Scammers coerce their victims into sending an “import tax” or “fee” in order to receive the money they have supposedly won in a lottery.
  • Romance Scams: Con artists establish a romantic relationship with their victims (online or in person) and then request money for “hardships” they experience, or to “visit” the victim (but never do).

Review the following tips to help prevent yourself and others in your life from becoming a victim of financial exploitation:

  • Talk about your finances. Generally, those who talk about their finances to financial professionals or trusted family and/or friends feel better equipped to prevent elder financial abuse than those who don’t.
  • Exercise caution when providing financial or other personal information over the phone or Internet, and resist pressure to give someone money, personal information or access to your financial accounts.
  • Always ask for more information in writing and get a second opinion before changing your power of attorney, wills, trusts or any of your personal financial information.
  • Report any wrongdoing. If you're convinced someone is scamming you or your loved one out of their money, contact your financial institution or Adult Protective Services immediately and file a report with your local police department.

Should you have any questions or you feel you have been targeted by fraudulent activity, contact us immediately.

If You Fall Victim of Identity Theft

If someone has stolen your identity, the Federal Trade Commission recommends that you take the following actions immediately:

  1. Contact each of the major credit bureaus. Tell them to flag your file with a fraud alert and statement that creditors should get your permission before opening any new accounts. Credit bureaus must also give you a free copy of your report if it is inaccurate due to fraud. Review your reports carefully to make sure no additional fraudulent accounts have been opened or unauthorized changes made to your existing accounts.
  2. Contact the creditors for any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. Ask to speak with someone in the fraud department, and follow up in writing.
  3. File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place. Keep a copy in case your creditors need proof of the crime.