Identified Scam:

Fake Credit Union Texts—Red Flags and How to Beat a Scam

Scammers are using text messages to impersonate credit unions, tricking you into sending your sensitive information and even money.
Updated 24 January 2022
Fake Credit Union Texts—Red Flags and How to Beat a Scam

Banking & Finance Scam Statistics 2020 USA

393k credit card fraud reports
564k total banking & credit related reports

$1,566 loss median reported loss (investment scams)

Source: 2019-20 Consumer Sentinel Report

Sections on this page
  1. What Are Fake Credit Union Texts?
  2. Red Flags of Fake Credit Union Texts
  3. How to Beat This Scam
  4. Received Fake Credit Union Texts?
  5. Frequently Asked Questions

Have you received a text message from your credit union (or a credit union you're not even a member of) recently? Although credit unions do send fraud alerts via text message, scammers are also now trying to trick customers via fake credit union texts. 

What Are Fake Credit Union Texts?

When you receive a text that appears to come from your credit union, you may be more likely to click the link or believe the message is legitimate. Unfortunately, many financial institutions, including credit unions, have recently reported scam text message schemes.

If you click on the link and provide your personal details, a scammer can then access your accounts and steal your personal and financial information. Here's how these scams work.

You Receive a Strange Text From Your Credit Union

You receive a text from an unknown number that informs you about an urgent situation. For example, the message might say that your Visa debit card has been closed or restricted.

The text might also alert you to issues with your payment information or suspicious activity on your account. In another version of the scam, the message will inform you that you have been approved for a loan from the credit union and ask you to complete the application process. The text might provide a link to provide your personal information or a number to call.

Credit Unions Do Send Legitimate Texts

Most credit unions will send fraud alerts via text message. They will usually ask you to respond with "Y" or "N" to confirm whether or not a recent transaction was authorized or not. 

You Click the Link or Call the Number

You click the link, which takes you to a fake website that looks similar enough to your credit union's website. Then, without realizing you're on a fake site, you enter your login information.

Fake credit union texts.
Don't click on URLs in text messages unless you're absolutely sure it's a legitimate text from your credit union.

Sometimes these texts include a phone number to call and address the issue. If you call, the person on the other end of the line will ask for your credit/debit card or account number.

Your Financial and Personal Identities Are At Risk

Since you have provided your sensitive account information, whether by logging into a fake site or over the phone, the scammer can now illegally access your credit union account.

Scammers can use your account to make fraudulent purchases or transfers or take out a loan in your name. It's also possible that malware was installed on your device when you opened the fake link. In addition, the scammer may be able to access other accounts if you use the same password for different accounts or profiles.

Red Flags of Fake Credit Union Texts

Scammers design these fake text messages to look as similar to a legitimate credit union text as possible. They also know you're likely to take action if you find out about a problem with your credit union account. Stay aware of these potential red flags so you can avoid becoming a victim of this scam.

Requests for Personal Financial Information

Scam text messages will ask for you to verify your personal financial information. While some credit unions do send text messages to verify suspicious activity, legitimate senders will never ask for your personal information.

Misspellings and Odd Phrasing

The language in the text message won't sound like a typical credit union and will likely contain grammar and spelling errors. In addition, the phrasing often sounds awkward and strange.

Example of fake credit union texts.
Look for signs of a scam, such as typos and misplaced spaces.

Strange URLs

The link in the text will not look like the official credit union URL. It may be a jumble of numbers and letters, or the credit union's name may be misspelled. If it looks unusual, don't click on it.

Urgent Situation

Scam texts from your credit union typically alert you about an emergency involving your debit card or account. Scammers deliberately leave out key details, hoping you'll click on the link or call the number to find out more.

Example of fake credit union texts.
Scam credit union texts will be vague in the hopes that you will call the number or click the link for more information.

How to Beat This Scam

Whenever you receive a text message from an unknown sender (even if the sender claims to be from your credit union), it's a good idea to proceed with caution. Instead of clicking on anything or providing personal information, take these actions instead.

Contact Your Credit Union Directly

Call your credit union directly to find out if it is indeed the sender of the text you received. Your credit union will most likely want to investigate the scam if it isn't. Use the number printed on the back of your credit union debit card or listed on its official website.

Don't Click Links in Fake Credit Union Texts

Links in texts are usually a red flag of a scam. If you ignore the texts, the scammer can't access your personal and financial information.

Do Not Call Numbers in Fake Credit Union Texts

Unless you recognize the number, do not call a number provided in a text from an unknown sender. Instead, research the number to determine if it's connected with your credit union.

Do Not Reply to Scam Credit Union Texts

Don't engage with the sender, even to find out more information. If you respond to the text, the scammer will know this is a working number, and you could receive more spam and scam texts. 

Report Spam and Scam Texts

You can forward spam and scam texts to 7726 (SPAM) once you confirm that it's a scam number. This allows your phone carrier to investigate and prevent you from receiving similar scam texts in the future.

Monitor Your Account Closely

If you've received any suspicious texts, make sure you regularly check your credit union account for any signs of fraudulent activity. Read up on your credit union's fraud protection policies to find out if they have any additional login security protocols you can use, such as multi-factor authentication. If you are signed up to receive text message alerts about unusual activity, familiarize yourself with what those messages look like so you can distinguish them from scam texts.

Received Fake Credit Union Texts?

Fake text messages from credit unions can be compelling and challenging to ignore. So if you've fallen for this scam, here's what you should do next.

Call Your Credit Union

Call your credit union immediately as soon as you realize you've shared personal details with the scammer, such as your login or account information. A credit union representative will want to know the nature of the message and the exact information that the scammer may now have access to.

In addition, you'll need to change your login information for the account, and your credit union may temporarily freeze your account and issue you a new debit card to protect you from fraudulent charges.

Set Up A Fraud Alert

Contact one of the three credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion—to request a free fraud alert to be added to your credit report. That'll prevent any scammers from opening any new accounts in your name. This is because creditors will have to contact you personally before approving you for credit while the fraud alert is in place.

Once you ask one credit bureau for a fraud alert, that company will automatically notify the other two bureaus.

Change Online Credentials

Change all of your passwords for any major online accounts, especially if you use the same password as your credit union for any other accounts.

Run an Antivirus Scan

It's a good idea to run an antivirus scan to check for any suspicious malware that may have been installed on your device when you clicked the fake link. If your device acts strangely even after the scan, consider taking it to a computer security expert.

Report Fake Credit Union Texts to the Authorities

You can report the scam phishing text to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). If the scam phishing text has led to more severe consequences, like identity theft, you can also report the situation to the FTC through its identity theft recovery program. You should also consider reporting the issue to your local police, especially if the scammer stole any funds from you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will my credit union ever text me?

Many credit unions offer a feature allowing you to opt in to receive their texts about suspected fraudulent activity. These texts give you the chance to verify transactions and protect your account from fraud.

Unfortunately, scammers have often been able to mimic these fraud alerts, tricking people into believing it's their credit union. It's important to note that when you're looking at a scam text, usually something is off about it. Perhaps the sender uses a different name or phone number, the punctuation or spelling has errors, or the text asks you to provide information by clicking on a link.

What do I do if I receive an unsolicited text message from my credit union?

If you have any doubt at all about the origin of a text, it’s best to contact your credit union by phone before you respond to a text. It’s certainly possible that the text is legitimate, especially if you opted in for fraud alerts, but if something seems off, it’s better to be safe than sorry.