If you or someone you know may be a victim of fraud, we’re here to help. On this page, you can find next steps for 10 of the most common scam and fraud situations.
If you’re not sure which situation applies or have other questions, call 800.358.8228 or visit your local branch. We’re here to listen, advise and help you take the steps necessary to help make this situation a little bit easier.
Your Next Steps
Select the situation below that applies to you or a loved one, and we’ll share the specific steps to take, including how Patelco can help.
- I’m a victim of identity theft
- I’m a victim of an employment scam
- I’m a victim of elder abuse
- I’m a victim of a lottery or prize scam
- I’m a victim of a tech support scam
- I’m a victim of a romance scam
- I gave out my card information
- I gave out my online banking information
- I was a victim of fraudsters claiming to be the IRS or Social Security
- I agreed to cash a check or money order for someone else
- Someone made a fraudulent charge to my card
I’m a victim of identity theft
Identity theft is when someone gets your personal information and then uses it to open accounts or make other financial transactions using your identity. Learn more about what is identity theft.
Notify your financial institutions
Notify your banks and credit unions including calling Patelco at 800.358.8228. Call any company where the fraudster has opened an account in your name, and speak to their fraud department.
Place a free fraud alert
Contact one credit bureau – that company must tell the other two.
Experian experian.com/help 888.397.3742
TransUnion transunion.com/credit-help 888.909.8872
Equifax equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services 800.685.1111
When a fraud alert is in effect, anyone who receives a credit application in your name should call you to verify your identity and confirm that you’re the one who really applied. (These will last for one year.)
Go to chexsystems.com (which has several self-serve options) or 888.478.6536. Ask them to place an ID Theft Alert on your debit file. Second, request they check for any recent inquires made under your name or Social Security number to determine fraudulent inquires.
Get your free credit report
Request your report at annualcreditreport.com and review it for discrepancies – then follow the instructions for reporting fraud.
Report identity theft to the FTC
Use the FTC’s online form to file an Identity Theft Report (and remember to save a copy of the completed form).
Report the theft to your local police
Once you’ve finished your FTC Identity Theft Report, print a copy and go to your local police station. You should take:
- a copy of your FTC Identity Theft Report
- a government-issued ID with a photo
- proof or your address (like a utility bill, rental agreement or mortgage statement)
- any proof you have of the identity theft
- a printout of the FTC’s Memo to Law Enforcement
Tell the police you need to file a report, and then ask for a copy of the report – it may help you to close accounts opened in your name and remove bogus charges from your accounts.
I’m a victim of an employment scam
Job scams tend to be requests:
- for money in order to be placed in the job or cover training/certification
- for your credit card or bank information in connection with a job
- for you to cash checks or buy gift cards as the job description
- Call Patelco at 800.358.8228 – we’ll help you sort through any part of the scam that may affect your Patelco accounts.
- Report the scam to the FTC using their online form – select the option for scams related to jobs and making money.
- If you’ve given out your credit card information, online banking information or other information, change it by requesting new cards and creating new logins and passwords. Contact Patelco or the other affected institutions for help.
I’m a victim of elder financial abuse
Financial exploitation is a fast-growing form of abuse of seniors. It occurs when someone misuses or takes money belonging to an elder for their own personal benefit. If you or someone you know is a victim of elder financial abuse, follow these steps.
- Call Patelco at 800.358.8228 or visit one of our local branches – our caring team is ready to listen
- Report the abuse to California Adult Protective Services (APS). Call 833.401.0832 and, when prompted, enter your zip code to be connected to your local office – this available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.
Here are some common financial signs of elder abuse that everyone should be aware of:
- Unusual activity in bank accounts, including large, frequent or unexplained withdrawals.
- ATM withdrawals by an older person who has never used a debit or ATM card before.
- Withdrawals from bank accounts or transfers between accounts that cannot be explained.
- Large withdrawals from a previously inactive account.
- New joint accounts suddenly opened.
- Sudden appearance of credit card balances, or new credit cards showing up in the person’s name.
- New “best friends” wanting to accompany the person to the bank.
- Closing CDs or other savings accounts without regard to penalties.
- Uncharacteristic attempts to wire large sums of money.
- The appearance of a new Power of Attorney document that the person does not understand.
I’m a victim of a lottery or prize scam
Lottery or prize scams usually begin with an unexpected email, phone call, internet posting or mailing that tells you that you have won something, usually a large sum of money – but the scammers want something in exchange, such as fees or your financial information.
If you think you may be a victim of a lottery or prize scam, contact Patelco at 800.358.8228 so we can help you deal with any consequences to your account – especially if you provided the fraudsters with your account information.
I’m a victim of a tech support scam
Tech support scams may start with a phone call, email or online advertisement telling you that there’s something wrong with your computer, that it has a virus, or that it needs to be upgraded. The FTC has a great guide to spotting tech support scams.
If you think you’ve been a victim of tech support fraud, follow these steps:
- Call Patelco at 800.358.8228
We want help you address any potential effects on your account.
- Report the scam to the FTC
Use this form – and select the option for computers and internet services.
- Clean the affected computer
Take your computer to a reputable electronics servicer who can help you install and run antivirus software to remove the threat. Many Best Buy and Staples stores offer this service, as well as independent local computer shops. If it’s an older computer, you may also consider recycling it as e-waste and buying a new machine that’s free from the scammer’s software.
I’m a victim of a romance scam
Romance scams occur on online dating sites, in online game forums, on social media like Facebook and Instagram, and in other apps and websites. The scammer will convince another person that the two of them are in a romantic relationship – often with romantic gestures, flirtatious messages and flattering compliments. Then the scammer will ask for money and, typically, will refuse to meet in person or keep coming up with excuses.
As your partner on your financial journey, Patelco is here to help – not to judge. So if you think you’re a victim of a romance scam, come visit one of our local branches so we can talk about your concerns and figure out how to keep you and your accounts safe. You can also call us at 800.358.8228 – we’re here to talk.
I gave out my card information
Debit and credit cards are a favorite target for fraudsters because card transactions are so common. While some schemes involve computer hacking, many fraudsters are now reaching out to people directly and asking for card information. This could happen via a text or phone call that appears to come from your bank or credit union, or a “friend” reaching out via social media. Sometimes, the person asking will promise you something in return for giving your card information.
If you’ve given your card information out to someone else, call us immediately at 800.358.8228 so we can help protect your account from damage.
I gave out my online banking information
Patelco will never contact you and ask you for your online banking User ID or password – not by phone, not by email, not in person and not by text. There is no reason for anyone to have your online banking credentials – and if someone asks it is a scam.
If you’ve given out your online banking User ID or password, call us immediately at 800.358.8228 so we can help you reset your credentials and protect your accounts.
I was a victim of fraudsters claiming to be the IRS or Social Security
Calls claiming to be from the IRS, your local police or Social Security are increasingly common – and the fraudsters often claim you’ll be punished or arrested if you don’t cooperate. Don’t fall for it – neither the IRS nor your local law enforcement nor the Social Security Administration will call to resolve problems with your taxes or Social Security account.
Hang up and call Patelco instead at 800.358.8228. We’ll help you figure out your next steps, especially if you’ve provided information or money to the fraudsters.
I agreed to cash a check or money order for someone else
If someone asks you to cash a check or money order in exchange for something, such as a portion of the money, you’re probably dealing with a scam. The check or money order will often turn out to be fake and will bounce.
In another variation of this scam, fraudsters pay for an item being sold via classified ad – but for more than the item’s price. Then the fraudsters will ask you to give back the difference in cash. Sometimes fraudsters also approach people outside bank and credit union branches asking them to cash a check – typically, these fraudsters will claim they don’t have an account and need the cash for some emergency.
If you’ve agreed to cash a check or money order for someone else – especially in exchange for something – it’s very likely fraudulent. Visit one of our local branches or call us at 800.358.8228 immediately so we can address the situation.
Someone made a fraudulent charge to my card
If you see a charge you don’t recognize or had an issue with a purchase, you can submit a credit, debit, ATM, or HSA card dispute or claim within 60 days of the date it appears on your statement.
Many times, disputed charges are legitimate purchases that you may not recognize or remember, so before you file a claim we recommend reviewing your recent receipts or online shopping emails.
The easiest and fastest way to submit a fraud claim or dispute is in Patelco Online™ (desktop only for now). After you log in, select the ACCOUNTS widget, select the account with the fraudulent charge, and then select the dispute option next to the relevant transaction. We encourage you to file online, but you encounter any difficulties you can also call us at 800.358.8228, visit a local branch or write to Patelco Credit Union, Card Services Department, PO Box 2227, Merced, CA 95344-0227.