7 Ways to Recognize a Scam

7 Ways to Recognize a Scam:


Phone and email scams are on the rise, with billions of robocalls and emails targeting U.S. citizens each month. An estimated 1 in 3 Americans admit they’ve fallen victim to a phone or email scam in the past year. The numbers are staggering and can lead to significant losses to those who fall prey.

Benchmark Federal Credit Union will never ask for personal account information at any time including social security numbers, account numbers, or PINs over email or a call we initiate.  If you are suspicious of any email or phone call received from Benchmark Federal Credit Union, please contact us at 610-429-1600.  And, a good idea is to always monitor your accounts regularly with our online and mobile tools such as the new BFCU Cards App.

Here are 7 ways to recognize a scam…

1. They contact you

Unsolicited calls and emails requesting payment or personal information are typically scams. Many people get duped because scammers have begun using familiar phone numbers and email addresses to look more legitimate. This includes looking like they are from a family member or friend, a co-worker or boss, and even from your financial institution. On the flip side, if it’s a number with an area code or email you don’t recognize, it can also be a scam. The Better Business Bureau warns that there are locations outside the U.S. where telephone numbers actually look like domestic long-distance numbers. For example, 809 and 284 are area codes in the Caribbean.

2. If there is a delayed greeting, it’s probably a phone scammer

Delayed greeting calls occur every day. If the caller does not respond right away, they are probably using an automatic dialer and it’s possible it is some type of scam. Don’t be afraid to hang up on such calls. If someone legitimate really wants to speak to you, they’ll call back and leave a voice mail.

3. The caller or email requests your personal information

Anytime that anyone you did not contact asks for your personal information such as a social security number, financial or credit card account information, it’s probably a scam. No reputable financial institution will ever call you, send you a text or email, or ask you to click on a link to verify information. It is a violation of very strict privacy policies. Instead, financial institutions, like Benchmark Federal Credit Union, will leave you a recorded message asking you to return the call at your convenience. Check to be sure the phone number on the message matches the one you’ve always used for your financial institution, then call them back.

4. A caller or email states there is a problem with your account

This might include a caller contacting you or receiving an email regarding a problem with your social security number, or perhaps an unknown account. Fraudsters often pretend to be from a business, a bank or credit union, or even a government agency. If a caller or email says there is a problem with your social security number or account or requests that you pay a fine, do not take the bait. Government employees and financial institutions will not call and request money this way.

5. The caller or email requests money up front in return for something

People fall victim to this scam and send money for the promise of a prize or something else of value. Certain phone and email scams will request an upfront fee. They’ll request that you wire the money or send gift cards. If someone asks you to do this, hang up. This is a scam!

6. They tempt you with a prize or offer that’s too good to be true

If someone calls or emails and says you’ve won a cash prize, trip, or another large prize, it’s probably a scam. This is especially true when it’s a prize for a drawing you can’t even remember entering. The caller or email may even pressure you into acting fast before you miss out. There’s no reason to decide anything at that exact moment…the only thing you might be missing out on is a scam.

7. The tone of a caller becomes threatening

A scammer might become intimidating and irritable; especially if the call is not going his or her way. That’s a big red flag that something is wrong. Just hang up…it’s a scam!

Common phone and email scams to watch for:

  • Imposter scams
  • Loan scams
  • Debt relief scams
  • Investment scams
  • Prize & lottery scams
  • Travel scams
  • Charity scams
  • Extended vehicle warranty scams


If you suspect a phone or email scam regarding your finances, bank, or credit union accounts, be sure to call your financial institution to inquire immediately. At Benchmark Federal Credit Union, we take the protection of our members’ accounts & personal data as a top priority and can employ further security measures to help protect threatened accounts. Be sure to report all scams to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) online or by calling them at 1-877-382-4357. In Pennsylvania, you can contact the State Consumer Protection Offices for assistance with a phone scammer. Finally, contact your phone company for call blocking tools and apps that allow you to block illegal and unwanted calls.

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