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Pre-approval Scams


By: Lorene Turnquist

Could this be a scam?

Unless you’ve been off the grid for a few weeks, you likely know about the massive Equifax data breach. This is the one where about 145 million folks like you and me had personal data compromised including social security number, date of birth and in some cases even driver’s license information. It sounds like a scam which may have been a result of this breach has happened.

A credit union in New Mexico is reporting its name and image is being used in a loan pre-approval offer which they did not send. Their members are receiving notifications they have been approved and they are instructed to call a number which is not associated with that credit union. When the recipient of the offer calls this number, they are instructed to give their online banking information and set up a test electronic withdrawal transaction to “test” their account. When that test transaction is successful, then the “credit union” will automatically put the pre-approved loan funds in their member’s checking account. Problem is that the credit union has nothing to do with any of this.

We send out pre-approved loan offers from time to time. And I’m sure you get other lenders who do the same. So how do you know they are legit?

  1. Do your due diligence. Do this even if you have a relationship with the lender. Remember that Equifax is a credit reporting agency. So, these bad guys know where you have accounts.
  2. If it smells fishy, it just might be. Look up the lender and call their regular customer service number.
  3. If they start asking for things like a credit card number or online banking credentials, you should hang up. No legit lender is going to ask you for this information.

This is likely the first of many scams to be reported. Please stay alert and use caution with your banking transactions. Ask your credit unions and banks how you can better secure your accounts. Watch your statements. And consider putting a “credit freeze” with the credit bureaus. Equifax is now offering this for free.