Star One Credit Union
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Telephone and Mail Scams

Call Back Scams

A caller or recording purports to be from your credit union and tries to convince you there is a problem with your credit card or account. You may be asked to provide credit card information, your social security number, or other personal information.

If the caller leaves a message, don't call back! If you do call back you may get a voice-mail and asked to leave a message. In this case, you may be charged an inflated per minute fee for the call.

If you receive a call that you aren't sure about, please call us at (408)543-5202 or (866)543-5202. Don’t answer any questions or call the number!

Phone Call Scam

Grandmother/Grandfather Scam: A fraudster calls you purporting to be your grandchild or a lawyer representing your grandchild (or other relative or friend) and states that funds are needed immediately to bail that relative/friend out of jail and a request  to wire funds is made of you.  You may be told to not discuss this with anyone, especially your Financial Institution.  You may also be asked to state (if asked by a teller) that the reason for withdrawing funds is for a purpose other than what the fraudster tells you, for example you may be asked to state the funds are for a wedding.


International Lottery Scams

Scam operators are using the telephone and direct mail to entice U.S. consumers to buy chances in high-stakes foreign lotteries from as far away as Australia and Europe. These lottery solicitations violate U.S. law, which prohibits the cross-border sale or purchase of lottery tickets by phone or mail. The scammers use victims' bank or credit union account numbers to make unauthorized withdrawals, or their credit card numbers to run up fraudulent charges.

Click here to see a sample fraudulent letter and check.

Keep in mind:

  • If you play a foreign lottery - through the mail or over the telephone - you are violating federal law.
  • There are no secret systems for winning foreign lotteries. Your chances of winning more than the cost of your tickets are slim to none.
  • If you purchase one foreign lottery ticket, expect many more bogus offers for lottery or investment "opportunities." Your name will be placed on "sucker lists" that fraudulent telemarketers buy and sell.
  • Keep your credit card and bank or credit union account numbers to yourself. Scam artists often ask for them during an unsolicited sales pitch.

Your best bet is to ignore all mail and phone solicitations for foreign lottery promotions. If you receive what looks like lottery material from a foreign country, give it to your local postmaster.

To report telemarketing fraud of any kind, contact your state Attorney General.

Counterfeit Check Scams

While the angles used by scam artists vary, the basics of the counterfeit check scheme remain the same. The consumer receives a generous check with an explanation that they've just won an award, a prize, a lottery or some other windfall. The consumer is instructed to deposit the check and wire a portion back to pay fees, taxes, or the like. The consumer deposits the check, the financial institution credits the funds to the consumer's account, and the consumer wires the money to the sender. Some time later, both the financial institution and the consumer learn the check was bogus. Unfortunately, the consumer is out of luck: the money that was wired can't be retrieved and, by law, the consumer is responsible for the deposited check - even though they didn't know it was fake.

  • For more information, see Fake Checks provided by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The FTC advises consumers not to rely on funds from checks unless they know and trust the person who gave them the check or, better yet, until the financial institution confirms that the check has cleared. Other advice includes:

  • Free is free. Throw away any offer that asks you to pay for a prize or a gift. If it's free or a gift, you shouldn't have to pay for it.
  • Do not enter foreign lotteries. It's illegal to play a foreign lottery through the mail or the telephone, and most foreign lottery solicitations are phony.
  • Know who you're dealing with, and never wire money to strangers.
  • If you're selling something, don't accept a check for more than the selling price, no matter how tempting the offer or how convincing the story. Ask the buyer to write the check for the correct amount. If the buyer refuses to send the correct amount, return the check. Don't send the merchandise.
  • As a seller, suggest an alternative way for the buyer to pay, like an escrow service or online payment service. To learn more about escrow services and online payment systems, visit
  • If you accept payment by check, ask for a check drawn on a local financial institution, or a financial institution with a local branch. That way, you can make a personal visit to make sure the check is valid. If that's not possible, call the financial institution where the check was purchased, and ask if it is valid. Get the financial institution's phone number from directory assistance or an Internet site that you know and trust, not from the check or from the person who gave you the check.
  • If the buyer insists that you wire back funds, end the transaction immediately. Legitimate buyers don't pressure you to send money by wire transfer services. In addition, you have little recourse if there's a problem with a wire transaction.
  • Resist any pressure to "act now." If the buyer's offer is good now, it should be good after the check clears.

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).




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