Security Alerts

Recent security notifications you should be aware of.

AI Fraud and How to Protect Yourself

Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing the way we live and work. Unfortunately, though, it's also revolutionizing the way scammers play their games. Here's what you need to know about AI fraud and how to protect yourself.

What is AI fraud?
AI fraud is the use of artificial intelligence to deceive or defraud individuals or organizations. When using AI to pull off a scam, fraudsters use algorithms to create convincing fake identities, manipulate social media, generate realistic fake images and videos (AKA "deepfakes") and more.

The scammers then create fake social media profiles and email addresses using these bogus identities and footage. Often, they'll pretend to represent celebrities for soliciting money and information. Similarly, they may create fake websites or emails that appear to be from legitimate sources, such as financial institutions or government agencies, and ask people to provide their personal information or login credentials.'

AI fraud is especially dangerous because its sophistication makes it difficult to detect. Thanks to AI technology, scammers appear to be legitimate, increasing the likelihood that people will fall for their scams.

AI fraud comes in several forms, including:

  • Phishing
  • ID theft
  • Deepfakes
  • Fake news
  • Social media manipulation
  • Chatbot scams
  • Fraudulent financial advice

Red flags
Are you being targeted by AI fraud? Look out for these red flags:

  • Multiple unsolicited emails and/or text messages
  • Asked to provide personal info or login credentials by an unverified contact
  • Unusual and/or unexplained activity on your social media accounts
  • Receiving financial advice that seems too good to be true

If you notice any of these signs, it's important to investigate. If the contact claims to represent a government agency or financial institution, do not engage. Reach out to the agency that supposedly contacted you to see if the communication is legit.

Protect yourself
Keep your money and information secure by following these precautions at all times:

  • Never share sensitive info with an unverified contact.
  • Check the URL of each landing page when banking online or using another platform to share sensitive information.
  • Use strong, unique passwords across all of your accounts.
  • Keep your device's security on its strongest setting.
  • Use updated antivirus software on your personal devices.

If you've been targeted If you suspect you've been the victim of AI fraud, act quickly to mitigate damage. First, contact us through our Secure Contact Form or call 301-586-3400 to let us know your information has been compromised. Similarly, reach out to your credit card companies to let them know about the fraud. Next, report the fraud to the FTC so they can take appropriate measures in catching the humans behind the bot-generated scam. You'll also want to change your passwords and consider a credit freeze. Finally, if your identity has been stolen, reach out to identitytheft.gov to learn your next steps.

AI fraud is a growing concern, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself. Follow the tips outlined here and stay safe.

A Reminder to Never Share Online Banking Credentials

At Market USA, your financial security is our top priority. In an era where cyber threats continue to evolve, it is important to remain vigilant and informed about potential risks. Criminals use deceptive tactics to gain unauthorized access to personal information, including sensitive login credentials for your online banking account. By posing as representatives of financial institutions, scammers may try to trick you into revealing this critical information, rendering you vulnerable to identity theft and financial fraud.

The following guidelines can help you identify and avoid falling victim to these scams:

  • 1. Be aware of impersonators: Remember, we will never contact you directly via phone or email asking for your online banking username or password. If you receive such a communication, treat it as suspicious and immediately report it to us.
  • 2. Practice phone safety: If you receive a call claiming to be from Market USA requesting your online banking credentials, do not disclose any personal information. Instead, hang up and report it to our Member Service Center through our Secure Contact Form or by calling 301-586-3400.
  • 3. Beware of phishing emails: Be cautious of emails that seem to come from Market USA and request your online banking credentials. Authentic communications from us will never ask for this information. If you receive such an email, do not click on any links or provide any sensitive information and delete it immediately.
  • 4. Choose strong and unique passwords: Create complex passwords that are difficult to guess, and avoid using the same password across multiple platforms. It is recommended to use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Regularly update your passwords as an additional security measure.

Device Advice: How to Keep Your Phone Safe from Fraud

Smartphones are the answer to the disorganized life. You can buy anything with just a few swipes, schedule appointments and store your photos in this one, convenient spot. You can also manage your accounts, check balances and deposit checks through Market USA's mobile app. Unfortunately, all of that convenience comes at a price: Your mobile devices pose an inherent risk to your security if they fall into the wrong hands. Fortunately, there are ways to protect your phone and information.

Here are 6 tips for keeping your device safe and secure.

  • 1. Keep your phone locked
    If your entire life is on your phone, you run the risk of giving a thief access to your identity if it's stolen or misplaced. The best way to prevent this from happening is to have a lock on your screen. Opt for a physical lock if possible, such as fingerprint or face recognition. Finally, adjust your phone's lock settings so the screen automatically locks after the shortest amount of idle time.
  • 2. Choose strong, unique passwords across all your devices and apps
    Passwords should be a blend of letters with varied capitalization use, numbers and symbols. Use a different password for each device, app and other online accounts. Also, change up your passwords every six months or so. Don't store the info for all your passwords in one location on your phone, or have your device "remember" passwords.
  • 3. Browse safely
    • Look for the padlock icon and the "s" after the "http" in the URL of each landing page you visit.
    • If an alleged representative of Market USA FCU reaches out regarding an issue with your account and you're unsure if it is legit, contact us directly through a secure channel to confirm your suspicions.
    • Never share your personally identifiable information (PII) with an unknown contact.
    • Don't store your credit card info in online shopping accounts.
    • Keep your security settings current.
    • Avoid clicking on pop-up ads or links in emails from unverified senders.
  • 4. Use secure Wi-Fi
    Using public Wi-Fi makes you vulnerable to hacking. It's best not to use public Wi-Fi at all, especially when banking online. To keep your device safe while using public Wi-Fi, connect to a virtual private network (VPN). In addition, be sure to keep your own Wi-Fi locked to avoid having strangers access it.
  • 5. Encrypt your data
    Your phone stores loads of your PII, which can make you vulnerable to identity theft. Protect your information by encrypting all sensitive data on your phone. Most phones have encryption settings, which you can enable easily.
  • 6. Install antivirus software on your phone
    The same antivirus programs that protect your laptop can also keep your phone secure. Check out security programs for phones, like McAfee or Norton 360. Antivirus software will provide your phone with protection from security breaches and attacks from scammers.

Beware Of Phishing Scams

Market USA will never ask for your private and confidential information through email.

The Federal Trade Commission has warned of phishing scams involving credit union brands. In all phishing scams, the scammer poses as a legitimate business or service provider where the victim may have familiarity. In this case, they claim to represent Market USA. The fraudsters use social engineering, capitalizing on social norms to inspire trust and manipulate unsuspecting people.

The scammers usually communicate via email, but they may also use mediums like phone calls, text messages or social media. They convince the victims of their legitimacy by providing personal details about the victim that have been found online.

Next, the victim is lured into providing more information by the promise of compensation, or by claiming the victim needs to verify or update their account. Once the scammer has the information, they can empty the victim's accounts, track their online activity and/or steal their identity.

Alternately, the scammer may lead a victim into clicking on links that are embedded with spyware. The links go to a website that look just like Market USA's, but is actually bogus. Since the victim thinks they're browsing Market USA's site, they generally won't hesitate to input usernames and passwords.

You can recognize these messages as scams by remembering that we will never ask for sensitive information through insecure channels.

Unfortunately, hundreds of people are falling prey to phishing scams. Don't be the next victim! Here are four tips to help you protect yourself:

  1. Ignore suspicious emails
    If you receive an email from an unidentifiable source, ignore it. Don't reply to the email, click on any embedded links or open attachments. Similarly, never "friend," or otherwise accept communications with a stranger via social media. As a general rule, it's best not to share any personal information over the internet.
  2. Alert Market USA
    If you think you've been contacted by a scammer who's impersonating Market USA, let us know! It's best to forward the original email you received to phishing-report@marketusafcu.com. If you've already deleted it, though, send us an email with every detail you can remember.
  3. Report all suspicious activity
    File your complaint at www.ftc.gov. You can also visit the FTC's Identity Theft website at www.consumer.gov/idtheft to learn how to minimize the fallout of a possible identity theft.
  4. Strengthen your computer's protection
    Efficient antivirus software will prevent your computer from accepting suspicious emails.If your software doesn't update automatically, be sure to update it manually on a frequent basis. A strong firewall prevents scams and viruses by making you invisible on the internet and blocking communications from unauthorized sources.

Similarly, the settings on all of your social media outlets should be as private as possible. Finally, all suspicious email addresses should be added to your computer's blacklist as quickly as possible. With good precautions and steps toward prevention, you can keep yourself safe from phishing scams!