Gulf Coast Educators FCU will NEVER email or call you asking you for sensitive information such as PINs, Social Security Numbers, etc. You should NEVER respond to any emails or phone calls requesting this type of information. Delete these emails or hang up immediately. Anytime you receive an email or phone call of this kind, please feel free to report it to the credit union call center at 281-487-9333.
If you notice unauthorized Visa charges on your account, you may have become the victim of Visa debit card fraud. Click here to download documents to help you get started with the resolution process.
Know scams affecting our members
Criminals sending fake debit card fraud alert texts
February 11, 2020 – Members have reported receiving text messages from fraudsters posing as our Visa fraud department. The fraudulent text displays two transactions and asks the recipient to verify the transactions. Here are a few things to remember if you receive a text that claims to be from GCEFCU:
🔹We will NEVER ask for your PIN.
🔹Don’t click any links or phone numbers in the text message. Instead, exit the text and call the credit union directly.
🔹You can forward fraudulent texts to 7726 (SPAM) to report it to your phone carrier.
🔹Remember to check your account daily and report any unusual activity.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 281-487-9333.
Here is an image of the fraudulent text:
Scammers using Counterfeit Official Checks
Jan 23, 2020 – It has come to our attention that fraudsters are using counterfeit Gulf Coast Educators FCU Official Checks in conjunction with a number of scams including secret shopper, work at home, property rental and business offers scams. All of the scams have a common request for the check recipient to cash the check and send a portion of the funds to the check sender via western union or moneygram. Two copies of the counterfeit checks and letters appear below, but several variations are being used. If you have any questions about one of our official checks, please do not hesitate to contact us.
What is a Skimmer?
A skimmer is a device that is placed over a card reader, that scans your card information as it passes through. Thieves use these devices to steal your debit or credit card numbers, and make purchases with them at a later date. They are often placed on gas station fuel pumps, and are not easily detected.
If you have scanned your card through a skimmer, chances are you won’t know until you start seeing fraud on your account. Too many times, these devices are placed and not detected for weeks or months. This is why it is crucial to always keep an eye on your accounts, and make sure that every transaction is one that you made.
How to Spot a Skimmer
It can be almost impossible to tell if skimmer has been placed on a card reader. However, there are steps you can take to protect yourself.
Take A Closer Look – Check the card reader and machine for evidence that it has been tampered with. If there is an area that looks like it has been pried open, that is an immediate red flag. If the card reader itself looks bulky or out of place with a different color or material than the rest of the machine, that could be another sign of a skimmer.
Check The Sticker – Many gas stations are now putting stickers on their fuel pumps. If the sticker is torn, do not use that fuel pump. Even if there is a separate sticker placed that is not broken, you should not trust it.
Be Aware – Always be observant of your surroundings anytime you are making a purchase. If you are at a fuel pump or ATM, take a glance at the other machines nearby to see if those look similar to the one you are using. If not, don’t use either one.
Hide Your PIN – Along with the card reading devices, thieves will place a fake keyboard or camera nearby to capture your PIN. Anytime you enter your PIN, you should do so as if someone is looking over your shoulder. Cover the keypad with one hand as you enter your PIN with the other.
If you notice anything suspicious, you should immediately report it to the business. If you believe you have been a victim of debit/credit card skimming, please give us a call at 281.487.9333.
Reported Skimmers Found:
Seller’s Brothers/Valero Convenience Store
10990 Red Bluff Rd (intersection at Bay Area Blvd)
Recently, some of our members have reported receiving calls that appear to be from themselves. When answered, there is a recording claiming to be the member’s cell phone provider. The recording goes on to say that there is fraud on their account, and to enter the last 4 digits of the primary account holder’s social security number. These calls are not actually from cell phone providers, but from scammers.
In any case, you should never give out your personal information to a person or recording that has called you. The above situation is an example of “spoofing,” or when a scammer sends false or misleading information in an attempt to deceive the receiving party and/or hide the caller’s true identity.
If you encounter this type of situation, you should hang up and call the phone number listed on your account statement, or on the company’s website to find out if they do, in fact, actually need that information. If the “spoofed” Caller ID displays your own number or a similar number to your own, do not answer. In any case of spoofing, you may file a complaint at www.IC3.gov.
Fake debit card calls
We have received numerous phone calls from members who have been received fraudulent phone calls regarding an issue with their debit card. The caller will ask the member for information including their credit union account number, the three digit security code on the back of the card and additional sensitive information. The caller ID shows only a four digit number. We will never call you and ask you for sensitive information such as:
- Full card number
- Account number
- Social security number
- Card security numbers
We have confirmed that other area credit unions are experiencing the same type of fraudulent activity. We will be closed on Monday in observance of Columbus Day but will be available today between 9 AM and Noon and again on Tuesday beginning at 8 AM. If you have received such a call and did provide information, please call 800-472-3272 to have your card cancelled immediately.
We do have an outsourced Visa Fraud system that does make calls to help our members prevent fraud on their accounts. The legitimate calls will never ask for sensitive information. The numbers from which the calls will come is 877-253-8964. You can call the number listed with confidence that it is legitimate. Unless the calls come from this number or the credit union directly, members should consider the call fraudulent.
Top scams that identity thieves use against senior citizens
Around the world, seniors are victimized by cybercrime and identity scams at higher rates than most other age groups. Each year, financial fraud and scams affect approximately 1 out of every 18 older adults.
As the Baby Boomer generation enters their retirement years, it’s important to warn seniors about the risk of identity theft and help them stay on guard against fraudulent scams.
Seniors make up 17% of the Canadian population today, and by 2041, 26.5% of the UK population will be 65 or older. By 2050, people aged 65 and older will represent 20% of the U.S. population.
Why do seniors fall victim to identity theft at higher rates than other adults?
Criminals are drawn to seniors for a variety of reasons. Limitations in mobility may keep seniors at home more, creating a sense of loneliness and isolation from family and friends. Some may have memory or cognition difficulties that leave them more susceptible to manipulation. But mostly, identity thieves know that as a group, seniors have greater financial wealth than other generations, therefore the payoff for stealing seniors’ identities can be greater.
Nine common scams used to steal identity information and defraud seniors
Educate the seniors in your life about these common scams that identity thieves and fraudsters are using to uncover personal information:
- Prize scams: Fraudsters contact the senior and say they have won a sweepstakes cash prize or lottery and need to make a payment to unlock the prize.
- Technical support scams: A caller, claiming to be from a reputable technology company such as Microsoft or Apple, calls to tell the senior that something is very wrong with their computer. Claiming the computer has been infiltrated by hackers, the caller offers to help in exchange for a fee. People in the U.S. lost $55 million to this scam in 2018.
- Grandchild scam: The scammer calls a senior and then says something like “Hi Grandma, can you guess who this is?” When the senior guesses with the name of one of their grandchildren, the scammer uses that identity to request financial support for anything ranging from bail money to car repairs to overdue rent.
- Inheritance scam: Similar to the prize scams, someone calls pretending to be an attorney and informs the senior they’ve received an unexpected inheritance. Then they press them for personal information.
- Medicare/NHS impersonation: One thing that all seniors have in common is their national health insurance plan. That gives identity thieves one key piece of information about a senior before doing any other research. By impersonating Medicare or NHS personnel, identity thieves get seniors to give out their personal information for “verification” purposes.
- Bank official impersonation: This works very much the same as the Medicare/NHS scam, except the information being captured is bank account numbers in addition to personal information.
- Tax scam: Tax documents contain a trove of personal information, and nearly everyone has to file them. There are two ways identity thieves approach tax scams—by telephone and email. On the phone, the identity thief poses as a tax official and demands payment. Phishing emails look like official communications from the taxing authority with the goal of obtaining personal information for identity theft and possibly stealing refund checks.
- Romance scams: Like any of us, seniors want to pursue love interests and new friendships, and many use online dating websites and social media. Seniors need to be aware that people do create fake online profiles in order to meet potential targets for fraud. Any love interest or new friend who asks for money should be blocked from further contact.
- Caregiver or familiar fraud: Sadly, the elderly often become victims of the very people charged with their care—family members or paid caregivers. It’s important that caregivers be trustworthy people with stable financial footing. Be wary if a caregiver tries to block the families access to a senior or hides bank statements or bills.
Help the seniors you care about watch out for these identity frauds and scams. Talk to them about the dangers and offer to review suspicious emails/mail or to help them look for unusual activity on bank statements and bills. In the event that a senior loved one has recently passed, maintain extra vigilance about the decedent’s credit report and identity in order to protect their surviving spouse and estate.
We have partnered with CyberScout to offer comprehensive identity management services. If you detect suspicious activity or would like to proactively protect your identity, contact us at 281-487-9333 or sign up for FraudScout which is CyberScout’s proactive identity management service.
 Statistics Canada
 UK Office for National Statistics
 U.S. Census Bureau
 “The awful, fast-growing tech scams fleecing the elderly out of millions,” Fast Company, May 5, 2019.
 “Top 10 financial scams targeting seniors,” National Council on Aging.
 Internal Revenue Service
 Federal Trade Commission
Social Security Scam
A new scam is on the rise. Recently, several of our members have received phone calls from someone claiming to be from the Social Security Office. They claim that someone rented a vehicle in the member’s name, and then returned the vehicle with illegal items still in it.
The caller goes on to tell the member that in order to clear their name from this case, the member must “freeze” their account by taking all their money out. Then the member must purchase several gift cards and send the caller the serial numbers for the cards (this is how the member pays the caller for removing their name). Once this is done, the caller tells the member that they will be receiving a new social security number.
This is a scam! No legitimate government office will request money from you in the form of gift cards. To understand more about phone scams, see our tips below.
Signs of a Scam
• They request money over the phone
• They request payment by means other than credit card, such as in the form of gift cards, cash, or wire transfers
• They offer to send you a check, and then you send them a portion of the check back as their payment
• They ask for confidential information, such as your social security number, as “verification”
• They use scare tactics, such as saying you will be arrested if you do not comply
What You Can Do
If you feel that a phone call may be a scam, hang up. Fraudsters will try to manipulate you to send money right away, before you have time to think things through. Always ask questions, such as the person’s name, business, call back number, and reason for the call, if you feel it may be legitimate.
To prevent your number from being added to any call lists, you can add your phone number to the National Do Not Call Registry. This won’t stop all unsolicited calls, but it will stop most. If your number is on the registry and you still get calls, they’re probably from scammers ignoring the law. Hang up, and report them at www.donotcall.gov.
We are here to help
If you receive a call or are worried you may be a fraud victim, give us a call. We deal with these types of situations every day and can tell you whether or not the call is valid.
Public Safety Advisory – “Bank Jugging” – from Pasadena Police Department
In the past several months the crime of “bank jugging” has been on the rise in Harris County, including the city of Pasadena. The Pasadena Police Department Auto Crimes Unit offers the following information on what “bank jugging” is, what citizens should be on the lookout for, and things they can do to protect themselves from becoming a victim.
WHAT IS BANK JUGGING?
- The term is used to describe suspects who sit in bank parking lots and watch customers go in and out of a bank. The suspects follow the customers they believe are in possession of cash and look for an opportunity to burglarize their vehicles or rob them directly.
- “Juggers” most frequently target customers carrying bank bags, bank envelopes and coin boxes.
- Most “jugging” Burglary of Motor Vehicles occur at a retail or commercial business the customer stops at after leaving the bank.
- If a customer leaves the bank and does not leave their money unattended in the vehicle most “Juggers” will go back to the bank to target another banking customer; however, some “Juggers” will confront the customer in an attempt to rob them by taking the money by force.
THINGS TO BE AWARE OF WHEN BANKING:
- Occupied vehicles backed into parking spaces with clear view of the front doors of the bank, ATM or commercial drive thru line
- Vehicles arriving at bank with no occupants entering the bank
- Vehicles changing parking spaces
- Vehicles with dark tinted windows with little or no visibility of the occupants
- Vehicles with multiple occupants
HOW CAN YOU PROTECT YOURSELF?
- Always be aware of your surroundings
- Conceal money before leaving the bank. Never openly carry bank bags, envelopes or coin boxes.
- Be aware of anyone following you from the area of a bank
- If you suspect you are being targeted, call 911 from your cell phone and keep the dispatcher informed of your location, the direction you are traveling, and drive toward the police station until marked police cars are able to locate you.
- Do not leave or try to hide your bank bag or bank envelope in your vehicle when you exit at your next destination, even if it’s your residence.
Card and data breaches
Latest Data Breach Affecting Members
We have been notified by Visa that member cards were impacted by a card data breach at Earl Enterprises (Planet Hollywood, Buca di Beppo, Earl of Sandwich). The exposure window is from May 2018 to March 2019. We will be issuing affected members with new cards.
With so many merchant data breaches in the news, we want you to know that Gulf Coast Educators Federal Credit Union is ready to help if your personal or financial data is ever compromised. We take service to our members seriously and will do everything we can to ensure that action is taken – quickly – to help you avoid becoming a victim of identity or account theft.
Your credit union is subject to strong data security standards established by Congress and federal regulators. While data breaches can happen anywhere, we are ready with a plan designed to ensure the safety and confidentiality of your sensitive data.
Unfortunately, merchants and retailers aren’t subject to these federal requirements. Many of them follow their own data security standards, but the recent rash of data breaches shows that much more needs to be done. When it comes to protecting your personal information, every measure counts.
When your debit or credit card data is breached at retailer, the cost of card replacement or account reimbursement to you is typically paid not by the merchant where the breach occurred, but by your credit union.
We want you to know that in the event of any breach affecting your accounts, this credit union will always do what we can to make you whole. In the meantime, credit unions around the country are leading the effort to get Congress to pass legislation ensuring merchants and retailers meet a national standard for protecting any of your financial data they collect when you make a purchase. We hope you will support us in this effort.
While we can’t control what happens at merchants and retailers, we want you to know that Gulf Coast Educators Federal Credit Union will do everything we can to assist you and your family if a breach does occur when you use your debit or credit card. You can always feel free to reach our member service department at 281-487-9333.