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Avoiding Stimulus Payment Fraud

We are vigilant about protecting your privacy and the security of your accounts, but we can’t do it alone - it’s important that you also arm yourself with knowledge to help prevent falling victim to a fraudster’s schemes.

Jennifer Leach, from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently cautioned consumers that though details are still being worked out for how and when the government will issue stimulus payments, that’s not stopping criminals from attempting to gain access to your pocketbook.

The FTC shares the following important things to know:

  1. The government will not ask you to pay anything up front to get your stimulus money. No fees. No charges. No nothing.
  2. The government will not call to ask for your Social Security number, bank account, credit card number, or online banking passwords. Anyone who does is a scammer.
  3. The details about how and when you’ll receive your stimulus payment are still being finalized. Anyone who tells you they can get you the money now is a scammer.

Remember: no matter when the stimulus payments are distributed, only scammers will ask you to pay to get it. If you spot one of these scams, please tell the Federal Trade Commission.

You can keep up to date with the latest Coronavirus-related scams here.

Common Scams

These are just a few of the scams that you may come across. For a full list of known scams and how you can protect yourself, please see the FBI website

Find more information on these scams below.

Redemption Fraud

Redemption Fraud, also referred to as 'Strawman' or 'Bond Fraud', is a growing scam. Often times this type of scam involves fraudsters contacting you with instructions to access fictitious secret federal bank accounts. They will ask you to use bogus routing and account information from non-existent accounts to fund your account or pay your loans. You are legally held liable for transactions you initiate to make payments or fund your account.

Much of the time, these fraudsters use documents that closely resemble legitimate, legal documents. 

Take these steps to help avoid this type of fraud. 

  • Be wary of individuals or groups selling kits that they claim will inform you how to access secret bank accounts.
  • Be wary of individuals or groups proclaiming that paying federal and/or state income tax is not necessary.
  • Do not believe that the U.S. Treasury controls bank accounts for all citizens.
  • Be skeptical of individuals advocating that speeding tickets, summons, bills, tax notifications, or similar documents can be resolved by writing “acceptance for value” on them.
  • If you know of anyone advocating the use of property liens to coerce acceptance of this scheme, contact your local FBI office.


ATM Skimming

ATM skimming is a growing threat to your financial information. If you're not familiar with ATM skimming, it's the act of obtaining card information using a reader device attached to an ATM or card reader. 

Here are some tips:

  • Spot the Skimmer. If the keypad looks raised above the surface of the device or easily moves, don't use it. Look for holes near a keypad that might conceal a camera. 
  • Check for Loose Parts. Inspect the reader to see if any part of it is loose or damaged. It shouldn't wiggle at all. Check for adhesive tape or glue.
  • Protect your PIN. Cover the area with your hand or a piece of paper as you type in your PIN in case there is a device recording your action. 
  • Use Credit Union ATMs. The ATMs at most credit unions, have anti-skimmer technology and are generally safer than ones not associated with a financial institution. 

If you notice any unauthorized transactions on your card and you believe your information has been compromised, please call our Lost or Stolen Card Number at the following numbers: (503) 215-6090 or (888) 849-5189.


Phishing is a scheme that uses fraudulent email, web pages and text messages to gather personal, financial and sensitive information for the purpose of identity theft. Most commonly, users receive spam email (mass email messaging), text messages and pop-up windows that appear to come from legitimate businesses like Providence FCU. People have been tricked by these deceptive solicitations into sharing passwords, credit card and bank account numbers.

How phishing works

Phishing emails and text messages are sent to many recipients and appear to come from legitimate businesses, sometimes even duplicating legitimate logos and text. Within a phishing email, you may be requested to click on a link that takes you to a fraudulent site or pop-up window where you are asked to submit personal and financial information. A phishing text message may request that you send personal information back to the sender through text message or call a phone number.

In order to increase the chances of a response, messages may imply a sense of urgency or an immediate risk to bank accounts or credit cards if you fail to answer. Special offers and prizes may also be promoted as incentives.  One way to detect a phishing scam it to look closely at the URL you’re being directed.  Providence FCU’s official website domain is

Phishers can access your accounts using your passwords and other information to withdraw money or make purchases. Personal information can also be used by phishers to open new bank or credit card accounts in your name.

Have a concern about email or text message fraud? Contact us at (503) 215-6090 or (888) 849-5189


Simple Tips to Be Safe Online

Keep Information Private

Public computers, like the ones at your public library, are often targets for hackers who install a keystroke logger that captures anything typed into the machine. Be cautious about accessing your accounts or other websites where they could obtain usernames, pin, answers to security questions and passwords.

Hackers can mask emails and text messages to look like they come from a trusted sender. Do not send your account number or personal information via email or text messaging to anyone.

Be alert for phone calls where the representative asks for personal information, including your member number, Visa number or social security number. Providence FCU representatives will not call to request personal information. If you get a suspicious call, ask for the caller’s name and extension and then call them back at Providence FCU’s main phone number (503.215.6090). You can enter the extension at any time after our automated operator answers. DO NOT call the representative back on any number other than Providence FCU’s published phone numbers: (503) 215-6090 or (888) 849-5189.

Also, do not give anyone your debit card PIN and do not write it down.

Review Your Accounts

Early detection is key in stopping fraud early. Providence FCU encourages members to login to Online Banking regularly to review account activity. Please contact Providence FCU immediately with any concerns at (503) 215-6090.


Make Your Password Strong

Change your password regularly and make it complex: at least 8 characters with a mix of letters, numbers and special characters. Do not give anyone your password and do not write it down. Use different passwords for your key accounts. 

Watch for Redirection

Use care when a hyperlink redirects you to a website that doesn’t look like it is operated by Providence FCU. Providence FCU has warnings that alert you when you are being redirected to a website operated by one of our partners. Use caution and contact Providence FCU if you do not see this warning or suspect fraud.

Log Off

When you’re done using Online Banking, don’t just close the browser window. Always logoff.

Assess Your Risk

You are encouraged to review the actions you are taking to keep your Online Banking access safe. Security controls could include how you store information like your member number, password, pin or the answers to security questions. Also consider the type of antivirus protection you use on your computer and the security of your wireless network.


Be Wary of Public Wi-Fi

Placing that online order waiting in line at the coffee shop may be convenient, but be very careful when using public wi-fi networks. Many times these hotspots are not secure, which puts you at risk. Use a secure, encrypted network, which will require you to provide a password.


When Will Providence FCU Contact You

Providence FCU representatives will NEVER request your member number, social security number, Visa credit or debit card number, Personal Identification Number (PIN) or Online Banking login information via call, email or text message. Providence FCU representatives may ask for this information when you initiate contact when it is needed to assist you.

Create Strong Passwords

In our digital world, there is a password for everything. Whether it’s your phone, social media, email, online banking, or anything in between, it’s important to keep your information safe by creating strong passwords.

Ideally passwords should be safe, memorable and long.


Strategies for a Strong Password

  • Make it complex. Your password should be at least 8 characters with a mix of letters, numbers, capitalization and special characters. A password generator like KeePass can help you create a unique, difficult-to-break password.
  • Take a sentence and turn it into a password. The sentence can be anything personal and memorable for you. Take the words from the sentence, then abbreviate and combine them in unique ways to form a password. Use movie quotes, song lyrics, favorite sayings, etc.
  • Connect the first letters of a passphrase. Take a long phrase and use the first letter of each word. Be sure to add in special characters and numbers. Make sure the phrase does not include easily recognizable information, such as childrens’ names and street addresses.
  • Think of reversing words. With either of the above methods you can reverse words to make them even more secure.
  • Pick a pattern on the keyboard. Passwords can be based on keyboard patterns. For example, a counter-clockwise spin around the letter f could result in "gtrdcvg." If you add in random symbols and numbers, you have an easily remembered pattern.

Tips for Keeping Your Password Safe

  • Each major account you have should have a different password. Avoid using the same password over and over.
  • Change your passwords regularly. Try not to use an old password for at least a year after you change it.
  • If you suspect something suspicious on one of your accounts, change your password immediately.
  • Do not give anyone your password and do not write it down. It may be tempting to write your password on a Post-it note, but it’s one of the first places thieves look.
  • Install malware-prevention software to prevent malware that allows key stroke loggers to learn your password.
  • Be careful using the “remember password” function in your browser. If someone gets a hold of your computer, they will also have access to your accounts.
  • Logging into public Wi-Fi? Avoiding entering passwords while on a shared, public network.

When requesting a password change, make sure the answers to your security questions are not easily accessible on social media.