New scam targeting teens and young adults

Stock image of a young woman looking out a window

We’re seeing a rise in a new scam targeting teens and young adults in our area. This extremely damaging scam mainly works when a fraudster takes advantage of a victim’s naivety and commits fraud in the victim’s name. Though anyone can be targeted, TwinStar’s Fraud Specialists report that the most common age range of victims are late-teens to young adults. This is thought to be because these groups generally have less of an income stream and are more susceptible to being tricked into giving their information for what turns out to be crimes/fraud in exchange for monetary payments.

Without getting into the finer points of this scam, here are some bullet points regarding it:

  • A victim could be approached by a stranger (or strangers) who offers them a chance to make money.
  • The victim would be given explicit instructions to open a checking/savings account with a credit union or bank and to give the stranger (fraudster) full access to this account.
  • The victim is then assured that nothing illegal is going on and/or that they will not be held responsible for anything the fraudster does with the account information.
  • With the account information that was provided to them, the fraudster commits fraud in the target’s name.

Though the target may believe they aren’t liable for the crimes perpetrated by the fraudster, the reality is that they could be held responsible since they willingly allowed someone to use their account. This could lead them to jail time and/or heavy fines. Beyond the legal troubles, giving away your personal information to someone you don’t know can lead to a host of personal/financial troubles (such as identity theft, for example) which can affect your credit for years to come. Since the most frequent victims of this type of fraud are young people, imagine how someone’s entire life can be altered by an incident like this.

The best way to prevent this type of fraud? TwinStar’s Fraud Specialists say vigilance and knowledge are key. Protecting yourself and your family is the first critical step. No untrusted sources should have access to any of your vital financial or personal information like social security numbers, financial account numbers, or passwords used to access email or online banking. Be sure to secure this information carefully and understand that willingly giving it to a fraudster could act as permission for them to commit crimes in your name. Keep an eye out for yourself and others who might be targeted by manipulative fraudsters. The money offered can often lead someone to go against their gut and make choices that they normally would not. Providing awareness and education about this type of fraud is another way to help prevent it. Teach children who to trust when it comes to financial information, and visit your credit union branch to introduce them to those who they can trust with their financial information.

The best way to fight fraud is to report it. Fraud can happen to anyone, and there is nothing to be ashamed of. Quick, decisive action can save you pain in the long run. If you believe you have been the victim of fraud contact your local law enforcement and then report it to your financial institution(s) immediately.

For more information about TwinStar Credit Union Fraud Services, please visit: TwinStarCU.com/security.