If you think you could never be the victim of a scam, think again. Bad actors continue to evolve their methods to achieve their nefarious goals. Benchmark Federal Credit Union is seeing an alarming uptick in the number of scams targeting people of all ages and backgrounds, including savvy job seekers who are looking to work from home.
In recent weeks, Benchmark Federal Credit Union has alerted numerous members to potential scams before financial transactions were completed on their accounts. In one notable case, an individual thought they had accepted an at-home job with a reputable company. The Benchmark member received a check that appeared legitimate, for the purpose of funding home office supplies. When they submitted the check for deposit, Benchmark FCU staff had suspicions and alerted the member that the situation may be a potential scam. The member was advised to follow up with their new “employer” by contacting them at a valid number listed for that company. The company confirmed it was a scam by an outside party. The check was indeed fake, and so was the job listing. The scammer’s hope was that money would be wired from its new “employee” before the fake check bounced.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, Americans were scammed out of $68 million due to fake business and job opportunities in the first quarter of 2022. This is a significant concern as more people are being asked to return to the office, and many are choosing to seek work-from-home alternatives. Scam artists are detecting that vulnerability and capitalizing on it.
Benchmark FCU staff are highly trained to detect such scams. Be sure to ask your bank or federal credit union about their anti-scam services, and be sure to use those services as you pursue work-from-home job opportunities. Remember: No reputable financial institution will ever directly call, text, or email you to verify information or have you click on a link to do so. It is a violation of strict privacy policies. Instead, financial institutions like Benchmark FCU will leave you a recorded message asking you to return the call at your convenience. Check to be sure the phone number on the message matches the one you’ve always used for your financial institution, then return the call.
If you or someone you know is pursuing a work-from-home job, the FBI advises looking out for the following warning signs during the hiring process:
- Interviews are not conducted in-person or through a secure video call, but rather on a teleconferencing app using an email address instead of a phone number
- Potential employers contact victims through non-company email domains and teleconference applications
- Potential employers require employees to purchase start-up equipment from the company, or pay for background screenings
- Potential employers request credit card information
- Job postings appear on job boards, but not on the company’s website
If you see or lose money to a job scam, you can report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. If you’re concerned about becoming a victim of identity theft, you can report it and get a personalized recovery plan with the FTC at IdentityTheft.gov. And you can always turn to your local, trusted financial institution for assistance.
Daniel J. Machon Jr. is the President and CEO of Benchmark Federal Credit Union. The only federal credit union to exclusively serve Chester County, Benchmark FCU has been serving the community for more than 80 years and is known for providing extraordinary service. To learn more about the products and services available at Benchmark FCU, visit our website at BenchmarkFCU.org. Anyone who lives, works, worships, or attends school in Chester County, PA is eligible to join Benchmark Federal Credit Union.