The Importance of Educating Members on Fraud Alert Procedures


“How do I know if it’s the credit union or a scammer?” The importance of educating our members on the fraud alert procedure.

Have you ever received a call from a member asking about a strange text or email they received posing as the credit union? In most cases, there may be a link attached prompting them to sign into their self-service features. How about a member calling to inform you about a concerning text stating a large amount of their funds is pending to be withdrawn?

Most if not all credit unions or financial institutions offer a fraud alert service for their debit cards that alerts members through text regarding, suspicious transactions, recent attempted charges, or excessive transaction attempts due to insufficient funds.

It’s important to educate and prepare members about these types of interactions to minimize the chances of our members’ personal or account information falling into the wrong hands.

What a fraud alert from the credit union will include and how members can tell the difference

Usually, when a member receives an alert from the credit union for possible fraud, the alert includes details such as the amount of the charge, vendor details, and the last four digits of the card number used.

Some institutions require their members to verify the alert with a simple yes or no answer. Others take it a step further and include a specific time frame for the alert to be verified; before the card is closed and a new one needs to be re-ordered. These types of messages are concise and never require members to provide sensitive information through a phone call or text.

Now how can we educate members on what to look out for? The primary goal for a scammer is to obtain credit union members’ personal and account information willingly. Phishing texts usually don’t include vendor information, and in some cases, the last four digits of the card number are notated.

Others include phone numbers or instructions for members to click on false links, mimicking the sign-in page on their online banking screens. This process allows the scammer to simultaneously collect their target’s personal info and log-in credentials, granting them access to their victim’s accounts and funds. This is why it’s imperative for members to understand the difference between the two before taking action or investigating.

Ensure the safety of our members’ accounts

How can we do our best as credit unions to protect our members’ accounts? Confirming that the primary form of contact on file is valid and up to date, would be the first step in aiding our members. This will help members identify whether the correspondence they receive from the credit union is legitimate, ensure the awareness surrounding these alerts and where they originate once this feature is triggered by a transaction.

Standard credit union practice is to contact the primary number on file to inform members when changes to their accounts are made either internal or external. So, making sure the contact information on file is up to date in turn provides them with the necessary tools needed to decipher between incoming fraudsters and credit union notifications.

Bring attention to the additional resources

In addition to the alerts linked to suspicious debit card activity, most members are not familiar with the self-service features offered through their online banking self-service portal.

Members can often enable digital alerts to receive notifications when their account balance changes or when ACH transactions are posted. These alerts can be modified so members can receive messages either by email, text, or through the secured message center.

Providing options for members to receive notifications through these three alternative communication channels, further eliminates a fraudster’s ability to coerce our members into providing their banking information unsuspectingly.

Education is the best defense against scammers

Now that we have a good understanding of how beneficial it is for our members to understand this process, as well as the difference between a credit union alert and a questionable text, you can implement these steps to reassure, inform, update, and provide your members with valid information and resources to keep their accounts safe.

Scammers can be tricky to discern, especially when the world has almost completely moved to digital communications methods and you have no idea how to navigate through it. Let’s take it a step further to add that extra layer of security; all the while promoting the use of digital banking.


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