June 15, 2018

1st United Credit Union has witnessed ongoing financial fraud in which criminals are targeting teens through social media. As a part of an ongoing effort to help their members and community protect their information and accounts, 1st United is warning residents of this issue.

“Social media is becoming a staple in kids’ lives,” said Greg Pulliam, 1st United Credit Union’s Chief Administrative Officer. “Although kids are tech savvy, they may not have the common sense to spot scams.”

At the core of the scam, kids are contacted through Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat and are offered money to hand over personal information such as a social security number or bank account information. In one case, a 16 year old was paid $500 to send a copy of his Social Security Card to a criminal who attempted to impersonate the victim at the Credit Union. If the account activity is fraudulent, the victim is left owing the money to the financial institution and is held responsible for the fraud.

Fraudsters are reaching out to kids in varying ways including phony contests and giveaways, make-money-quick schemes, and by impersonating a celebrity or a person in need of help, often living abroad. 

“1st United wants parents to be aware of this threat and talk with their kids about it,” says Greg. “Unfortunately, if a child gives their personal and/or banking information accidentally or purposefully to someone who uses that information to commit a fraudulent act, the family could be held responsible.”

1st United Credit Union urges parents to take precautions, including:

  • Remind children to never give out personal information. This includes account number, passwords, and any online or mobile banking login information. It could also include the name of their favorite book, pet’s names, or mother’s maiden name – all information used for security authentication on accounts.
  • Remind children that if they are offered money in exchange for your personal information, it’s likely a scam. Don’t proceed. Scammers could leave you owing thousands and these unpaid balances will be sent to a collections agency. 
  • Check social profile settings. Strangers should not be able to see your child’s profile.
  • Uninstall apps that access your child’s personal information on their phones.
  • Be wary of celebrity profiles. Many are not legitimate.

If consumers believe they are a victim of fraud, they are requested to contact their local police department immediately and notify their financial institution so additional safeguards can be placed on their account.