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Routing # 211885946

Identity Theft

Identity theft occurs when someone assumes your identity to perform a financial transaction or other act without your knowledge or permission. According to TransUnion, identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America with 19 people falling victim to it every minute.

Often, the stolen information is used to take over accounts, open credit cards or obtain medical care long before the theft is ever discovered. An identity thief can file a tax refund in your name and get your refund. In some extreme cases, a thief might even give your name to the police during an arrest.

While many people first find out about identity theft from their financial institutions, there are some red flags that indicate your personal information may have been stolen and used for fraudulent purposes. The information provided here is meant to educate and help you to protect yourself against fraud and identity theft. Watch for warning signs to make sure you don't fall prey.

Unemployment Fraud Scam

The FBI and other state and federal crime agencies have reported an increased number of cases involving fraudulent state unemployment insurance claims amid COVID-19. Many states have been affected to include Massachusetts. Learn more about what you need to know and how you can protect yourself.

Popular Scams


This is a message sent as an email, via fake websites made to appear as if they are from a legitimate company. This type of email will typically direct the user by a link to a website where they are asked to update personal information, give passwords, credit card, social security, or bank account numbers. Legitimate organizations already have this information.


The identity thief will contact you claiming to be a bank, credit card company, government agency or similar organization. In many cases, the identity thief’s caller ID may appear to be similar to that of a legitimate financial institution, and will ask the victim to confirm personal information over the phone. This can be either a live conversation or urgent sounding voicemail asking you to call back and leave information. Fraudsters also use phishing attacks against mobile devices and tablets (SMS phishing, or Smishing), leaving a convincing or urgent text message either with a link to a malicious payment servicer or with a call-back number. If you call the number back, you’re connected to an Automated Voice Response (AVR) system that asks for personal or financial information.

ATM (skimmers)

Thieves gain access to information stored on the magnetic strip of an ATM/Debit card by placing a device, called a “skimmer,” on an ATM where you would insert your ATM/Debit card. A “skimmer” is small in size (size of a deck of cards) and can be made of metal or hard plastic. Some skimmers may have cameras on them and are placed near the keypad.

Lottery/Secret Shopper

Scammers notify you and state that you have won a lot of money or a fantastic prize in a competition, lottery or sweepstake that you don’t remember entering.  The notification may come by mail, telephone, email, text message or social media. In order to claim your prize, you will be asked to pay a fee. Scammers will often say these fees are for insurance costs, government taxes, bank fees or courier charges. You may also be asked to provide personal details to prove that you are the correct winner and to give your bank account details so the prize can be sent to you. Scammers then can gain access to your accounts and use your identity.

Possible Warning Signs of Identity Theft

  • You see withdrawals from your bank account that you can’t explain
  • You don’t get your bills or other mail
  • You receive a credit card that you did not apply for
  • Merchants refuse your checks
  • Debt collectors call you about debts that aren’t yours
  • You find unfamiliar accounts or charges on your credit report
  • Medical providers bill you for services you didn’t use
  • Your health plan rejects your legitimate medical claim because the records show you’ve reached your benefits limit
  • The IRS notifies you that more than one tax return was filed in your name, or that you have income from an employer you don’t work for
  • An extreme-legal action is brought against you (warrant or subpoena) for something you haven’t done

Ways you Can Prevent Identity Theft

  • Do not give out personal information over the phone, unless you have initiated the call and you know who you are speaking with
  • Shred your receipts, credit card offers, financial statements, returned checks and any other sensitive information before discarding
  • Do not respond to suspicious, unwanted or unwarranted emails
  • Minimize what you carry in your wallet/purse
  • Freeze your credit line with major credit reporting agencies (a fee may apply)
  • Check your credit report annually (or on a regular basis). Obtain a free annual credit report by going to
  • Protect your computer or mobile device with virus detection software 
  • Watch out for “shoulder surfers.” Shield the keypad when typing your passwords on computers and at ATMs.
  • Collect mail promptly. Ask the post office to put your mail on hold when you are away from home. Shred all mail, even “junk” mail before discarding.
  • Use unique passwords or codes which contain characters, letters and numbers
  • Enroll in an identity theft program (fees may apply) 
  • When possible, use trusted ATMs.

What you should do if you suspect Identity Theft?

  • Notify us at 413-733-2800 or 1-866-697-8328, or visit us at one of our locations so that we may assist you and protect your accounts
  • Report a fraudulent transaction on your Pioneer Valley Credit Union account
  • Contact our ATM/Debit Card service provider at 1-800-472-3272 to close your card
  • Place a fraud alert (which is good for 90 days) on your credit report by contacting the three major credit reporting agencies:
  • File a police report (retain copies as you may need these for future use)
  • Complete a Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Affidavit by calling 1-877-438-4338 or by visiting

Recovering from identity theft is a lengthy process. We are here to provide assistance to our members. Please contact us for more information at 413-733-2800.