Q&A with PSECU's Financial Crimes Unit

Q&A with PSECU's Financial Crimes Unit

We sat down with PSECU Fraud Manager Kristina Hawa, CFE, CUERME, to get her insight on trending scams, securing your personal information, how PSECU prevents fraud, and more.

Kristina Hawa_newsWhat trends are you seeing related to bank fraud?

Currently, we’re noticing an uptick in scams around cryptocurrency investments. These investments tend to stem from social media accounts posing as investors. Typically, they send screenshots of a fake bank account showing an account set up in your name that you have no access to yourself. In conjunction with the image, they may request you to wire funds in an effort to fund your investments.

These scams usually include a guarantee that you’ll make money fast and the investments will result in a big payout. A lot of times these guarantees are not in line with how crypto, or the stock market, is currently performing.

Another type of fraud we see often is a romance scam. In this scenario, you meet someone online through social media platforms or online dating sites and build a relationship with them. Then, the person you’ve connected with suddenly falls into a hard time and needs money ASAP to help them out of the situation. The situations can be work related, legal trouble, or involve their family. But no matter which scenario they pitch, they always need money fast and can’t access their own funds.  

What can people do to prevent fraud or to protect their personal information?

There are numerous ways individuals can protect themselves along with their personal data. First, individuals should ensure they are using different usernames and passwords for different websites. A lot of the time, individuals use the same username and password for multiple sites to make remembering their information easier. But, if a data breach happens, they are now exposed to fraudsters obtaining this information.

Second, individuals should never allow anyone access to their online banking username and password or provide their secure access code to anyone. With some scams, “investors or significant others” request to have access to your online banking to process transactions and investments for you. This should not happen. It is extremely important to remember that your personal credentials belong to you and should not be shared with others.  

Next, do your research before making any decisions that involve your finances or personal information. If you’re working with a financial advisor or investment rep, they should be licensed, and you should be able to research them, along with the investment opportunity they’re offering you.

Last, be very careful when clicking links that pop up on your computer. Antivirus software scams are still popular among scammers. When they work, these types of scams result in the scammer potentially seeing and accessing what’s on your computer including emails, bank accounts, and any other sensitive information you have stored.

Staying aware and asking questions are the best ways to remain safe. If you have a doubt or concern, call your financial institution to discuss the situation.

How does PSECU safeguard members’ information and money?

PSECU takes safeguarding members’ information and money very seriously. We have lots of tools in place to protect members. We also have features that our members can use to protect their accounts, including multilayer authentication for online and mobile banking logins, and digital tools that allow you to have account alerts, as well as the ability to turn off your credit and/or debit card when you misplace or suspect fraud. We also offer contactless cards, which create a more secure way to pay.

What should someone do if they suspect or experience fraud?

This depends on the type of fraud they’re experiencing. The best place to start is contacting your financial institution, or the company where you believe you’re experiencing fraud, to report it and find out what the next steps are for recovering any funds lost or limiting the exposure of fraud you experience.

If you’re a victim of identity theft, you should report it to identitytheft.gov. There are multiple steps you need to take when you fall victim to ID theft, and that website gives you streamlined checklists and letters to help you through the difficult time.

Any other advice or tips you have?

Here are a few tips to remember:

  • For investment scams, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  
  • For romance scams, if someone needs funds urgently and they are pressuring you to send it fast – don’t. Call your financial institution and discuss the situation. PSECU employees are trained to identify scams and will have the knowledge and resources to assist you.  
  • Never allow someone to access your online or mobile banking for any reason. Your online credentials should be known and utilized only by you.
  • Be careful of what you share on social media. A lot of times fraudsters will use this information in an effort to defraud you.
The content provided in this publication is for informational purposes only. Nothing stated is to be construed as financial or legal advice. Some products not offered by PSECU. PSECU does not endorse any third parties, including, but not limited to, referenced individuals, companies, organizations, products, blogs, or websites. PSECU does not warrant any advice provided by third parties. PSECU does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information provided by third parties. PSECU recommends that you seek the advice of a qualified financial, tax, legal, or other professional if you have questions.