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Understanding Fraud & Scams when using Zelle®

As a consumer, it’s important to understand how fraud and scams are defined because there may be differences in the consumer protections offered by your bank. A basic way to differentiate fraud and scams is unauthorized vs. authorized transactions.


If someone gained access to your bank account and made a payment with Zelle® without your permission, and you weren’t involved in any way with the transaction, this is typically considered fraud since it was unauthorized activity. If someone gained access to your account, and stole money or sent it without your permission, this could be defined as fraud. Immediately report suspected unauthorized activity to your financial institution. Because you did NOT authorize a payment, you are typically able to get your money back after reporting the incident.


If you were knowingly involved in the transaction and you gave the “ok” and authorized a payment to be sent, this is typically defined as a scam. Even if you were tricked or persuaded into authorizing a payment for a good or service someone said they were going to provide, but they didn’t fulfill it, this would be considered a scam. Because you authorized the payment, you may not be able to get your money back. A few types of scams reported involve purchasing tickets, buying puppies and other financial scams like cash flips.



Resources & Tips for Sending Money Safely

  1. Confirm your recipient’s contact information. Make sure you have the correct U.S. mobile phone number or email address for the person you want to send money to. When in doubt, contact your friend to double check.
  2. Beware of payment scams. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. For example, is a stranger selling online concert tickets at a steep discount and insisting you pay with Zelle®? Think twice. Make sure you only send money to people you personally know and trust.


Five Reasons to Make the Switch to eStatements

  1. Get 24/7 access to your statement. 
  2. Decrease your risk for identity theft or mail fraud. Paper statements are easier to lose when delivered through “snail mail.” An eStatement gives you an extra layer of security since it’s sent directly to your online account, where only you have access using your login credentials.
  3. View your statements as soon as they’re available. With eStatements, you get immediate access to your statement online so you can manage your month-end budget more effectively.
  4. Become more environmentally friendly. When you switch to eStatements, you’ll do your part in reducing your paper trail and saving trees.
  5. Declutter and get organized. Your online account acts as a virtual filing cabinet for your statements. Paper statements in your home may be accessed by anyone in your home. Some of which should not see them - burglars, unwanted guests, or even domestic help. eStatements really do help make your life simpler.


Check Washing and Mailbox Phishing

In October 2022, because of a rash of Postal Mailbox break ins, we sent out an alert on Check Washing. The alert described what Check Washing is and how to avoid becoming a victim.

Taking a step back, we have uncovered another common practice of both consumers and businesses that is putting them in danger of becoming a victim. Placing mail containing checks in your curbside mailbox with the flag up is no longer safe. Thieves are trolling neighborhoods and stealing your mail! If you have checks in there, you have now given them a check to wash, duplicate, or even convert to an ACH to take your money!

The safest way to pay bills is using online bill pay. If you must mail a check, please hand it directly to your carrier or walk it into the post office. If you MUST put it in your mailbox, never let it sit overnight. Put it out as close to your carriers pick up time as possible.

If you suspect you may have been a victim of mailbox theft, call your local post office immediately! If you had checks in that mailbox, call your bank first!



How to Protect Yourself

Identity theft is a growing concern in today's digital age, with millions of individuals falling victim to cyber criminals every year. However, there are steps you can take to protect your identity and minimize your risk of falling victim to identity theft and fraud online.

Strong Passwords

One of the most critical steps in protecting your identity online is to use strong and unique passwords for all of your online accounts. Avoid using easily guessable information such as your birthdate or name, and consider using a password manager to generate and store complex passwords.

Be cautious with personal information

Avoid sharing personal information online, and be wary of unsolicited requests for personal information. Cyber criminals often use phishing scams to trick individuals into giving away their personal information, so it's important to be cautious and verify the identity of the sender before sharing any sensitive information.

Secure Communications

Phoenixville Federal Bank & Trust does not send out unsolicited e-mails asking for customers to input confidential information. If you receive an e-mail claiming to be from Phoenixville Federal Bank & Trust, do not reply to the message, and call your local branch.



Helpful Information


Home Warranty Scam Letters

Learn how to protect yourself from this new type of fraud.

Some of our customers have reported receiving letters in the mail urging them about a time-sensitive matter with their mortgage. In most cases the scam letter is citing their home warranty coverage is about to expire. Be sure to question any communication you receive like this, especially when something just doesn’t seem right. Bank security can confirm that these letters are a scam. Please disregard these letters and throw them away when you receive them. If you have any questions call your local branch or contact SVP / Chief Retail Banking Officer / Security Officer, Chuck Benz at 610 933 1170 x144



Reporting Fraud

See something suspicious? Believe you might be the victim of fraud? Don’t be afraid to reach out to Phoenixville Federal Bank for help.

If you have questions regarding a suspicious message you received or believe you are the victim of fraud, call your local branch or contact SVP / Chief Retail Banking Officer / Security Officer, Chuck Benz at 610 933 1170 x144

If you believe you are the victim of fraud, contact the major credit bureaus’ fraud hotlines and place a fraud alert on your account. Here are the fraud numbers for the major credit reporting bureaus:

  • Equifax: 1-888-EQUIFAX (378-4329)
  • Experian: 1-888-397-3742
  • TransUnion: 1-800-916-8800

You should also contact your local law enforcement agency to report the suspected fraud.

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