Financial Wellness

Beware of Gift Card Payments, Pop-Ups and Links

You are as vulnerable as anyone else to become a victim of fraud. Scams and identity theft are real issues affecting real people in real time. Read on for 7 Ways You Can Avoid Fraud.

Gift cards are for gifts, not payments

One thing for certain is any payment demand by gift card is always a scam. Gift cards are for gifts, not payments.

A government agency, financial institution or other reputable business will never ask you to pay them with a gift card or cash. Scammers demand payment in ways that make it difficult to get your money back such as by wire transfer, gift card, prepaid card, or a money transfer app. Anyone who asks you to pay in any of these ways is a scammer.

“Tech Support” Scams

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns consumers to protect themselves from “tech support” scams. This entails contact by displaying fake error messages as website pop-up screens that won’t close , essentially locking your browser. These fake error messages aim to trick you into calling a fraudulent technical support hotline controlled by the scammers. Legitimate error and warning messages will never include a phone number.

Sample of pop-up message blocking access
This pop-up message blocks access and directs the computer user to “Contact Our Certified Windows Technicians for Immediate Assistance.” THIS IS A PLOY to get you to call a number that can give a scammer access to your computer files and passwords. Do not click unknown links or dial numbers that pop up after your computer stalls or freezes.



Scammers have figured out countless ways to cheat consumers out of money. In some scams, they act friendly and helpful. In others, they use threats or scare tactics.

1. Tech support scams with pop-up windows.

Do not run any programs or click on any unrecognized pop-up messages. One single click can install unwanted viruses on your computer and give scammers access to your computer files, passwords and web details. Pop-up windows will appear as a tech support message, but behind the pop-up lurk scammers with sophisticated technology to compromise your computer, cell phone, or tablet.

Do not dial numbers that pop up on your screen after your device stalls or freezes. Take the same precaution with links in your inbox, text messages and social media. You never let a stranger into your home. Don’t let a scammer into your computer or phone.

2. Hang up on robocalls.

If you answer the phone and hear a few seconds of silence, clicking sounds, or a recorded voice instructing you to “press 1 to speak to a live person,” hang up at once.

3. Don’t believe your caller ID.

Scammers can make any name or number appear on your caller ID. This is called spoofing. From anywhere in the world, scammers can disguise their phone number to look like a government agency or local number similar yours.

4. Block or label calls.

Scammers do not care if you’re on the National Do Not Call Registry. Your best defense against unwanted calls is call blocking or call labeling.

5. Don’t give out any information.

Never give out your personal information to unexpected callers. Even if the person on the other line is verifying information that is correct, hang up immediately.

6. Go to the FTC website to learn and report.

The Federal Trade Commission provides information on the most recent scams and how to recognize warning signs. Visit the FTC website ( to find out more about scams or to report a scam. To keep up with FTC warnings, you can sign up to get their Consumer Alerts.

7. Remain cautious and beware.

Protect your home internet and wireless networks with strong passwords. Triple think before you open or respond to anyone who isn’t a verified contact. If in doubt, STOP! If you suspect fraud, contact CEFCU and any of your other financial institutions immediately.

Use resources from organizations you know and trust. Read more of our Financial Wellness articles to learn more on identifying and avoiding scams, fraud, and identity theft.