Nothing is more important to us than the security of your assets and your personal information. We’ve compiled these resources to help you learn more about common scams, identify legitimate fraud alerts and prevent identity theft.
Common types of fraud and scams
Identity theft occurs when your personal information is stolen and used to commit fraud, such as making unauthorized transactions or purchases or stealing a person’s funds. Unfortunately, it isn’t always obvious when identity theft takes place, and the damage can be irreparable. A number of scams involve identity theft, so you should always be alert when you’re asked to provide personal information.
For more information regarding identity theft, visit our blog "Identity theft: what you need to know."
- Unemployment and Tax-related Scams
Identity thieves are exploiting the pandemic by committing unemployment benefits fraud, making it the number one type of identity theft issue being reported. Unemployment fraud is when imposters file claims for unemployment benefits using the names and personal information of people who have not filed claims. Simple to attempt and difficult to detect, this type of fraud is so rampant that many states are struggling to separate fraudulent claims from legitimate ones. Similarly, tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses your stolen personal information, including your Social Security Number, to file a tax return claiming your refund.
- Covid-19-related Scams
Times of disaster and crisis present an opportunity for scammers to try to take advantage of consumers. It’s also very common for scammers to change their methods. Current coronavirus scams include:
- Testing/Vaccine/Treatment – Don’t trust any offers that mention a treatment for the virus or early registration to receive the vaccine. You can’t pay to put your name on a list or get early access to the vaccine. Beware of alternative products – treatments, medicines, etc. being used to treat the virus. Learn more about avoiding vaccine scams.
- Charities –Fake charities always pop up during disasters, and sometimes scammers pose as representatives from legit charities. Learn how to avoid charity scams.
- Stimulus Checks – Scammers are posing as representatives from the IRS and asking for personal information or are pretending to charge people fees for their stimulus checks. Don’t give out your personal information or sign up to receive the check early. Anyone enticing you to do this is a scammer.
- Telemarketing Scams
Scammers call you on the phone and seem very friendly, using your name, making small talk and asking about your family. They sometimes claim they work for a company you know and trust, but they’re just impersonating a representative of that company to cheat you out of money. Unless you initiate the phone call, never give out personal information over the phone even if the caller asks you to confirm your information – it’s a trick. If an offer sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
- Romance Scams
Scammers take advantage of people looking for a romantic relationship, often through dating websites, apps or social media by pretending to be prospective companions. They play on a person’s emotions to get them to provide money, gifts or personal financial information. This one happens over periods of weeks or months to build up trust with the victim. Be wary of requests for money especially if this situation happens to you.
Learn more about romance scams.
- Lottery/Sweepstakes Scams
Lottery or sweepstakes scammers contact you congratulating you for winning a contest. You’ll then likely be asked to pay a fee to claim your prize. The scammers may ask for your bank account information or ask you to wire them money. Keep in mind that you can’t win a lottery or sweepstakes that you didn’t enter and you should never have to send an upfront payment for receiving a prize.
Learn more about prize scams.
- Banking Scams
Banking scams are as simple as they sound; they involve scammers trying to get access to your bank account. A few common banking scams include overpayment scams, unsolicited check fraud and automatic withdrawals. To protect yourself don’t give out any personal or bank information and don’t deposit checks or money orders unless you know the source is legit.
Here's how we alert you about potential debit card fraud
Phishing schemes and other types of fraud try to deceive you into thinking you're talking to a legitimate institution such as a retailer, bank or other trusted organization. In reality, when you fall victim to these scams, you're giving your information to thieves. Taking this into consideration, it's important to know how Cobalt communicates with you when there's potential fraud on your accounts.
If we see suspicious activity on your debit card you'll be notified in the following ways:
Automated Phone Call
When a transaction is detected by Fiserv EFT, our debit card processor, that seems unusual, Fiserv will call you and ask you to verify if you initiated the transaction. We recommend saving this number in your contacts.
Text and Email Notifications
Cobalt also offers free text and email alerts to our debit card holders. The text alerts will come from 37268 (not a 10 digit phone number). Text ‘YES’ or ‘NO’ to confirm, or deny, authorization of the purchase. We will never ask you to give details about your debit card or transaction purchases.
Members are automatically enrolled in this program, and we will use the phone number we have on file for you. Text messaging will follow the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which allows text messages to only be sent between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. If the alert is generated outside of these hours, only an email will be sent. If you do not have an email address, you will still receive a phone call. If you would prefer to receive phone calls, instead of texts, for future alerts, you can text STOP to 37268.
Safeguard yourself from fraudulent activity, especially text messages that are from an unknown source. Cobalt does not use text messages to handle security questions regarding your account. If you receive a text message and are unsure of its validity, call us directly at 800.228.0392, chat with us via Video Banking or visit any one of our 24 branches to speak to a representative.
Protect your Cobalt debit card with Mastercard ID Theft Protection. This program is always available at no additional cost to Mastercard holders.
Additional fraud resources:
The above scams are only a few of the most prevalent happening in the world today. To learn more about additional popular sources of fraud, visit the resources below.
Common Scams and Crimes – Search the FBI’s website for categories of scams and crimes filtered by year
Fraud Watch – Sign up for AARP’s fraud watch alerts
Fraud Map – AARP’s interactive fraud map
Fraud and Scams – Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's fraud overview