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Natural Awakenings Jacksonville-St. Augustine

Five Common Financial Scams

The Florida Office of Financial Regulation (OFR) urges consumers to be aware of potential scams when making financial decisions. Knowing what scams are and how to spot them, helps defend against financial fraud.

The following are the five most common scams used to target victims in Florida:

·         Tax-Refund Fraud – Typically, the scammer will file a false tax return using a stolen identity, arranging to have the refund electronically transferred to a debit card or have the check mailed to an address where they can pick it up. By the time the victim files their tax return and the IRS tells them they have a duplicative filing, the scammer is long gone with their refund.

·         Advance-Fee Loan Scam – In this type of scam, the victim is told that they qualify for a loan, but they must pay a fee to process the application. Commonly, victims are told to pay the fee using a reloadable debit card or send cash through a service, such as Western Union or MoneyGram. Once the fee is paid, the scammer walks away with the money and the victim is left without a loan.

To avoid becoming a victim of an advance-fee loan scam, follow these OFR tips: verify the lender license; don't pay for the promise of a loan; question any fees; get your agreement in writing; and be wary of companies that advertise "no credit check" or "guaranteed loans."

·         Timeshare Resale Telemarketing Fraud – This type of fraud involves scammers who market advertising services to timeshare owners who want to sell or rent their interest in a timeshare unit. The scammer charges a fee, which they say will be refunded to the victim after the sale. However, no sale materializes and the scammer absconds with the money.

·         Affinity Fraud – This investment fraud involves targeting members of identifiable groups as victims, typically ethnic, religious or professional communities. The scammer takes advantage of the trust that exists in these groups of people, who generally have something in common, to pitch a fake investment opportunity. Commonly, the scammer is also a part of the grou

·         Ponzi Scheme – This investment fraud involves payment of purported returns to previous investors from funds collected from new investors. The scammer typically attempts to lure new victims by promising high returns with little to no risk. The scam collapses when new investors can't be recruited to pay “returns” to the previous investors.

More Scams:

NCUA Alerts Credit Unions About Phone Scam


The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) is warning consumers about a telephone scam in which consumers are contacted by a caller claiming to work for NCUA and asking for personal and financial information.

The caller claims that the consumer's credit or debit card has been frozen or blocked. They then ask for the consumer's social security number, account number, date of birth and home address to supposedly verify the information. Consumers should never give out any personal information to a caller. Plus, the NCUA would never request personal or financial information over the phone.

Phishing Attempt – Email Solicitation Using NCUA Address

A recent phishing attempt has been made to obtain member credit card account numbers, expiration dates and electronic signatures. In cases reported to NCUA, the perpetrators sent fraudulent emails, representing to be from the NCUA, to credit union members and the general public.

The NCUA, like Alive Credit Union, will never ask credit union members or the general public for personal account or personally identifiable information as part of a survey. Any email that alleges to be from the NCUA and asks for account information is fraudulent and should be treated as suspicious.

ATM Skimming

Skimming, which is a type of fraud that occurs when an ATM is compromised by a skimmer, is becoming more and more widespread. A skimmer is a card reader that can be disguised to look like part of an ATM. The skimmer attachment collects card numbers and PIN codes, which are then replicated into counterfeit cards.

Tips to avoid skimming:

·         Trust your instincts: If anything looks out of place on an ATM, don't use it.

·         Guard your PIN carefully: As most skimmers require two pieces of information from you, the PIN is something you can at least stop them from getting. Just cover your actions by cupping one hand over the numbers as your other hand enters them.

·         Take advantage of the debit card "cash back" feature: A grocery or convenience store will give you cash back if you pay for your purchase with a debit card. Simply hit the amount of cash you need. It's free, and it's safer.

·         Become a creature of habit and use the same ATM each time: This won't protect you from encountering a skimmer, but you're much more likely to notice something fishy if you are familiar with the machine.

·         Look for ATMs with video surveillance: These machines have extra security and this additional level of protection deters thieves from installing the skimming devices.

Finally, if you do suspect something, let the local branch, gas station, or store know. It may be a false alarm, but you could prevent someone being ripped off who isn't as vigilant as you are.

For more than 68 years, Alive Credit Union (ACU) has been committed to serving their community in health care and in select organizations, including Southeastern Grocers and anyone who works in real estate. ACU has set their focus on providing the highest level of member service and to also inspire financial wellness through financial education. That is why they have five certified credit union financial counselors on staff to assist members through hurdles. As a valued member, a person has access to a variety of resources, including credit report review, explanation and analysis; debt elimination counseling; budget assistance; and future financial goal planning. For more information, call 904-296-1292 or visit