Scam Alerts

At Pioneer, your security is our priority. We go to great lengths to make sure that you are protected and well informed.
 
Please know that Pioneer will never request your confidential information via phone, email, or social media. Contact us to verify any activity where your personal information is being requested, or if you feel that your account may be at risk.

The first step to preventing scams is knowing what they typically look like. Most scams have the same telltale signs and familiarizing yourself with them can keep you from falling victim. 

How to Tell If It’s a Scam:

  • They Request Untraceable Payments: Scammers usually request untraceable forms of payment like P2P payments, cryptocurrency, gift cards or reloadable cards.
  • You Receive an Unusual Request: Many scams begin with an unusual request from someone you would trust like a family member, a coworker, or an organization.
  • There Is a Strict Sense of Urgency: Most scams will intimidate you to react quickly to overwhelm you and encourage you to act without thinking. 
  • They Aren’t Available to Talk: Almost all scams would fall apart under further scrutiny, so scammers will give an excuse for being unavailable.
  • You Need to Send Money Upfront for a Prize: Legitimate companies never require you to pay money in advance to receive a prize.
  • You Are Asked to Keep it a Secret: Scam artists will ask you not to tell anyone, since discussing the situation may help you realize it is a scam.
Explore the latest alerts and warnings below. The more you know how to prevent it, the better you will be able to protect your accounts and avoid costly damages that can come with criminal activity.

Recent Scam Alerts & Warnings:







Recently scammers have been targeting victims via email, Google Chat, and postal mail with up-front fee scams involving fictitious inheritance or beneficiary payouts. Scammers will pose as senior officials of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) regarding funds supposedly held by the OCC or mention other governmental agencies. Victims are initially asked for general personal information and then for more specific details like Social Security numbers and bank account information. The scams involve requests for thousands of dollars in fees or taxes to release the funds. There are a few variations of this scam:

  • Victims are contacted about “unclaimed assets” held by the OCC with final payment made via bitcoin or other virtual currency upon claiming.
  • Victims receive a “Request for Currency Conversion Settlement” form with their sensitive information requiring a conversion fee to be paid before their held funds can be credited to their bank account.
  • Victims receive a phone call from a scammer claiming to be from the OCC Financial Crimes Division letting them know they will be issued a large compensation payment for money lost in previous scams and that attorney fees need to be paid before the payment can be sent.
  • Victims are told they need to pay off a tax or fee so they can visit an OCC office and retrieve a large sum check being held for them.

Ways to Prevent Falling Victim:

  • Remember that the OCC does not participate in the transfer of funds for, or on behalf of, individuals, business enterprises, or governmental entities.
  • If you receive a correspondence claiming to be from the OCC, do not respond and safeguard your personal information.
  • Don’t respond to suspicious texts or calls, and never provide sensitive financial or personal information over the phone or through text messages.

What to Do If You Fall Victim to a Scam:

A Port Out scam occurs when a fraudster hijacks your mobile number by transferring it to their own carrier. Their goal is to take control of your phone number so they can swap passwords and usernames on your banking profile and access other personal information, such as, name, address, birth date, PINs or passwords, and the last four digits of their Social Security number. By ‘porting out’ your phone number they, can bypass multi-factor authentication. Phone numbers can legally be ported from one provider to the next when you switch your phone service. 

Scammers start by getting your personal information from calling their target and impersonating a trusted business or institution or accessing information that has already been stolen on the dark web. When scammers initiate a porting request, they trick the victim’s phone company into believing the request is legitimate. If the scam is successful, the number will be ported to a different mobile device or service account set up by the scammer. Next, the scammer will attempt to quickly reset the access credentials for the victim’s financial and social media accounts via text messages and calls before they realize they have lost access. Finally, the scammer will use that access to try and drain the victim’s bank accounts or ransom back access to their social media accounts.

Ways to Prevent Falling Victim:

  • Be Proactive: If you don’t already have a PIN or a password to verify your identity when calling about your account, contact your phone company and ask about adding one.
  • Stay Vigilant: Enable both email and text notifications for financial and other important accounts.  If you receive notice that changes to your account have been made without your knowledge, contact the business holding that account immediately to let them know that you didn’t authorize a change.
  • Don’t Respond: If someone calls or texts you and asks for personal information, do not provide it.  If the caller claims to be from a business you are familiar with, hang up and call that business using a number you trust, such as the number on your bill, in a phone book, or on the company’s website.
  • Don’t Overshare: Guard personal details that can be used to verify your identity – such as the last four digits of your Social Security number, your phone number, your date of birth, the make and model of your car, your pet’s name, or your mother’s maiden name.  Also, keep that information off social media.

What to Do If You Fall Victim to a Scam:

  • File a complaint with the FTC.
  • Notify your financial institution immediately if a scammer has accessed your financial accounts or you have made any payments to them.

With student loan forgiveness in the news, scammers have started preying on those with outstanding student debt. Scammers will call claiming they are affiliated with Federal Student Aid (FSA) or the Department of Education and want to help determine your eligibility. They use the guise of student loan forgiveness to gather sensitive personal and/or financial information. Scammers may also know information about your loan balance or account number, making them seem more legitimate.  

Ways to Prevent Falling Victim:

  • Use legitimate means to determine your eligibility: The best way to determine your eligibility for any forgiveness programs is to log into your Federal Student Aid account and check your dashboard. None of these forgiveness programs require special access to be granted.
  • Don’t let your guard down: Scammers are using official-looking names, seals, and logos to make their communications seem more trustworthy.
  • Never pay an upfront fee: If a company offers the service of reducing or getting rid of student debt, it is illegal for them to charge upfront. For assistance with federal student loans, visit gov/repay or speak to your loan servicer for help if you have private loans.
  • Don’t share your login information: Scammers will attempt to steal your FSA ID, which they can use to cut you off from your loan servicer and steal your identity.
  • Educate yourself: Federal Student Aid has a resource page on scams, with comprehensive information on possible scams and tips for knowing what legitimate financial aid help looks like.

What to Do If You Fall Victim to a Scam:


A new scam is targeting bank customers in the Capital Region with scammers impersonating banks to get debit card, account, or personal information. Victims will receive what appears to be a text from their bank attempting to verify a card transaction. Eventually they will receive a call from the scammer pretending to be a bank representative asking for personal and account information. These phone numbers may even appear to be coming from your bank. The scammer will sometimes provide a few digits of the card number to put the victim at ease before asking for the rest of the card number, expiration date, and CVC code.

Ways to Prevent Falling Victim:

  • If you are unsure about a text or call you’ve received do not respond to the text or participate in the call. Contact our Customer Care Center at 518.730.3000 or reach out to your local branch to verify the text or call.
  • Never provide financial information to confirm your identity when called, emailed, or texted. If someone is asking for your sensitive financial information such as Social Security number (SSN) or banking details, it is likely a scam.
  • Don’t be intimidated by threats. Banks will never threaten to close your account or pressure you to transfer money to keep it safe.

What to Do If You Fall Victim to a Scam:

  • Reach out to your local branch or contact Customer Care at 518.730.3000 if you have provided any personal information such as Social Security number (SSN), bank account number, online banking account or password, debit card number, expiration date, or CVC code.

Bank Jugging is a form of theft that has been on the rise. It consists of thieves targeting customers making large cash withdrawals. Once they leave the bank, the thief will follow the customer to distract them and steal the cash. This typically occurs when a customer makes a cash withdrawal at the financial institution or ATM/ITM and leaves with the cash notably visible.

Ways to Prevent Bank Jugging:

  • Look out for suspicious individuals: Be wary of anyone sitting in a parked car unoccupied or loitering around the bank. Thieves will typically back in their car to easily leave the premises.
  • Don’t be distracted when entering or exiting the bank: Avoid using earbuds, wearing headphones, or being on your phone since this can make you easier to victimize.
  • Avoid loosely carrying cash: Whether you are making a deposit or withdrawal, secure your cash in a purse, briefcase or other type of closed bag to keep it out of sight and secure.  
  • Secure your vehicle: Always lock the doors of your car and avoid leaving cash out in plain sight inside your vehicle.
  • Make sure you aren’t followed: When leaving the bank, watch for any cars or people that may be following you. If you believe you are being followed, call 911 immediately and notify them of the situation.
  • Be extra alert when using ATMs: ATMs and ITMs are one of the prime targets of thieves looking to steal cash. When using an ATM or ITM, be extremely aware of your surroundings and look out for any suspicious behavior.

What to do if you fall victim to bank jugging:

  • Report the robbery or break-in to the police as soon as you become aware of it. 
  • Have a detailed list of anything missing. 
  • Immediately notify your financial institution if your driver’s license, checkbook, credit, and/or debit card or any other form of identification that may have been stolen.

There has been a significant increase in mail theft around the Greater Capital Region.  Criminals have been targeting residential mailboxes, as well as U.S. Postal mailboxes stealing mail to obtain checks, credit cards, and debit cards, among other items. 

Ways to Prevent Mail Theft:

  • Deposit outgoing mail in slots inside post offices or hand it to mail carriers.
  • Remove mail from boxes every day, as soon as possible.
  • Do not place outgoing mail in your mailbox overnight or for any length of unattended time.
  • If you change your address, immediately notify the U.S. Postal Service and any company with which you do business.
  • Sign up for informed delivery at USPS.com to receive daily email notifications of incoming mail and packages.
  • Request a vacation hold even if you will be gone for just a few days. This can be done at a post office or online at holdmail.usps.com/holdmail.
  • Consider using security envelopes to secure your mail.
  • Do not send cash in the mail.

Ways to Prevent Check Fraud:

  • Use pens with indelible black ink to make your checks more difficult to wash.
  • Fill your checks out completely - don’t leave blank spaces in the payee or amount lines.
  • Don’t write personal details like your Social Security number, credit card information, driver’s license number or phone number on checks.
  • Use mobile or online banking to access copies of your checks and ensure they are not altered. 
  • If your bank provides an image of a paid check, review the back of the check to ensure the endorsement information is correct and matches the intended payee, since criminals will sometimes deposit your check unaltered.
  • Consider using e-check, ACH automatic payments and other electronic and/or mobile payments.
  • Follow up with payees to make sure that they received your check and confirm receipt.

What To Do If You Are a Victim of Mail Theft:

  • Report mail theft immediately to police and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 800-275-8777 (not your local post office).
  • Immediately notify your financial institution if you think any checks may have been stolen.

Scammers have recently been sending homeowners letters claiming that their property’s home warranty is expiring soon. These letters come in the form of official-looking documents posing as legitimate home warranty companies or organizations. They may even copy the logos and branding of known companies like Pioneer.

These letters stress the urgency of the expiration, threatening that you will be financially liable if you do not immediately activate the warranty on your home. The criminals are attempting to pressure you to provide financial information through a form, or over the phone by calling the fake number provided. Know that Pioneer will never send you mail about extending an expiring home warranty.

What To Do If You Receive a Letter:

  • If you receive a letter about an expiring home warranty disregard it and don’t mail back your financial information or call the number on the letter.
  • Your best course of action is to call your home warranty provider (if you have one) directly from a number on their website to confirm it is fake.
  • If you have already called or provided information to the scammer, you should call your financial institution to determine what steps need to be taken.

Scammers continue to pose as the IRS to target unsuspecting victims. IRS spoofing scams are very common, but more specific scams have surfaced recently. Always remember that the IRS will never initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text, or social media regarding a bill or tax refund. If you are concerned that the IRS might have contacted you, verify it’s them with this guide from their website. Read on below to stay up to date on the latest tactics employed by scammers.

Common Summer Tax Scams:

  • New Economic Impact Payment: Currently this is the most common scam, which mentions to taxpayers that a new round of Economic Impact payments is available. These payments occurred during the pandemic, with the last official Economic Impact Payments happening in 2021. There are currently no more payments going out to taxpayers, and any claims stating otherwise are scams.
  • Online Tax Refund: This scam lures victims in by advertising an unclaimed tax refund, typically through text or email. Look out for suspicious emails or text messages with language about “claiming your refund online”. Misspellings and poor grammar are both telltale signs of a scam.
  • Unclaimed Tax Refund Mailing: Very similar to the previous scam in nature, this involves sending a physical letter with an official-looking IRS masthead. The letter will mention that you have an unclaimed refund and walk you through the steps to claim it. Following those steps will ultimately lead to you being scammed and/or having your information stolen.
  • Fix For Tax Problems: Another tax return-related scam, this time informing taxpayers of an issue with their refund. The scammer will attempt to sound official and mention that they can help you resolve the issue if you click a link. Following this link could result in malware, or your information being stolen.
  • ERC Eligibility Claim: This scam focuses on the Employee Retention Credit (ERC), a pandemic-related tax credit available to qualifying employers. Scammers will pose as reputable government organizations or businesses attempting to let you know your business is eligible. However, this is just a scam to attempt to get access to your tax or personal information. If you believe you may be eligible for an ERC claim, work with a reputable tax professional.
  • Online Account Scams: Close to the tax deadline, scammers take advantage by claiming to offer help setting up online accounts on IRS.gov. While setting up an IRS.gov account is a valuable resource, bad actors are posing as helpers to get access to accounts and compromise sensitive tax information. Avoid this by setting up your own IRS.gov Online Account by visiting their website.
  • IRS Texting Scams: These scams target potential victims with scam messages that often look like they're coming from the IRS, offering lures like fake COVID relief, tax credits or help setting up an IRS online account, or sending taxpayers to a fake IRS website. Remember, the IRS does not send emails or text messages asking for personal or financial information or account numbers.

What to do if you fall victim to a tax scam:

A new scam has emerged with bad actors targeting bank accounts via verification codes. In this scenario, scammers have already obtained your username and password but require the additional authentication code to bypass two-factor authentication. To get around this, they will trigger a code to be sent to your phone and then attempt to have you share it with them via text or call.

While posing as a bank employee, they will inform you that your card or account has been compromised. Next, they will say to request a new card for you they require the authentication code read to or texted to them. Once you provide them with the authentication code, they can access your account and start withdrawing money. They may also repeat this process, stating that the card delivery has been delayed and they require a new code. With continual access, they may target to drain your bank account entirely.

Ways to Prevent Online Account Scams:

  • Don’t provide your personal account information such as ATM PINs, passcodes, or passwords.
  • Never re-text or provide anyone with a two-factor authentication code, your bank will not ask for these codes.
  • If you receive a two-factor authentication code that you didn’t request, update your password on that linked account.

What to do if you fall victim to a scam:

Scammers are pretending to be from an organization you are familiar with - including Pioneer - and are able to change the phone number that appears on your caller ID, making it so that the name and phone number you see pop up seem legitimate.
 
Ways to Prevent Caller ID Spoofing:
  • Do not respond to any questions, especially those that can be answered with "Yes" or "No."
  • Do not give your personal or financial information in response to a request that you did not expect. Legitimate organizations will not call, email or text to ask for your personal information, like your Social Security Number, bank account, or credit card numbers.
  • Use caution if you are being pressured for information immediately.
  • Talk to your phone company about call blocking tools that you can use. The FCC allows phone companies to block robocalls by default. More information about robocall blocking is available at fcc.gov/robocalls. 
What to do if you are a victim of Caller ID Spoofing:

If you live locally, there’s a decent chance you might have your TV, internet, or home phone through Spectrum. Recently, scammers have been impersonating Spectrum representatives and targeting local customers over the phone. Typically, they will mention an unpaid bill or a similar excuse in an attempt to have you share personal information. They may also make it seem urgent by threatening immediate termination of service if the “bill” goes unpaid. Know the red flags and steps you can take when you are targeted by a Spectrum scam.

Know the Warning Signs:

  • They Ask for Information They Should Already Have: Scammers may ask for information they should already have if they are a real representative from Spectrum. An actual agent would already know how much you pay monthly and not need to ask. If unsure, you can ask for them to verify your account number, which an actual Spectrum representative would have.
  • They Offer a Discount to Lower Your Bill: If you are locked in at a price, Spectrum won’t contact you out of the blue to lower your monthly bill. Scammers will sometimes provide an enticing offer to increase the likelihood that you go along with the scam.
  • They Request Payment Immediately: The end goal of all these scams is to get access to your personal information, specifically financial information. Scammers will often insist you provide your credit or debit card number, and this should be an indicator that something is wrong.
  • They Threaten Immediate Termination: In addition to encouraging their victim with an enticing offer, some scammers will make a threat. If a Spectrum representative is calling you and threatening to shut off your service immediately unless you pay, it is likely a scam.

What To Do:

  • Never Share Any Payment or Financial Information: The scammer posing as a Spectrum representative will stress that you immediately share your financial information. Never let them intimidate you into sending money or sharing any sensitive personal information over the phone.
  • Hang Up the Phone: Scammers can easily spoof phone numbers and caller ID, so it can’t be trusted. Hang up immediately if you receive one of these calls. You can always call your local Spectrum office to have them verify it was a legitimate call.
  • Contact Your Local Spectrum Provider: If you believe you were targeted by a Spectrum scam, you should notify your local Spectrum office, so they know their customers are being targeted.
  • Notify Your Financial Institution: If you did share financial information or send money to the scammer, you should notify your financial institution immediately. This will help ensure your information remains secure, and they can look out for any suspicious transactions on your account.
  • Report The Fraud: Even if you weren’t scammed, reporting these scams can protect others in the future. File a complaint with the FTC to help prevent these scams from happening.


Business communication scams put pressure on employees of organizations, and are believable because they know where you work, and the name of an executive. They use this information to pressure you into purchasing gift cards or enabling wire transfers. Typically, there is also a sense of urgency to have it done quickly, sometimes with terrible potential consequences for the business. These are all tactics to keep you from thinking too carefully about what is going on.

What to Do If You Are Targeted by a Business Email/Text Scam

  • If you believe the request may be legitimate, use a previously established means of communication to reach out to the executive, or someone in your organization to verify the claim. Ensuring you are speaking to a real person is often the best way to determine if it is scam. Multiple employees may also be targeted, so getting the word out could help others.
  • Report the scam to the FTC.
  • If you have transferred funds, immediately notify your financial institution.

The Federal Trade Commission has posted a Consumer Alert regarding utility payments. The Alert notes that only scammers demand utility payments in cryptocurrency.

The scam goes like this: The consumer gets a call or text from someone pretending to be their utility company. The caller or text says the consumer owes money (which is a lie). The scammers then send the consumer a text—sometimes including their utility company's logo—with a QR code and tell the consumer to scan it at a Bitcoin ATM to make a payment or their service will be disconnected.

No utility company will text about a shut-off, and no utility company will demand payment in cryptocurrency. Those are scams. Before it shuts off service, all real utility companies will notify their customer in writing and offer a repayment plan.

We have been made aware of a significant increase in larcenies from vehicles around the Greater Capital Region. Criminals have been targeting country clubs and golf courses posing as members, breaking into locked and unlocked vehicles, stealing driver’s licenses, checks, credit cards, debit cards and cash, among other items. Moreover, fitness centers, parks, and other public places have also been targeted.   

Ways to Prevent a Vehicle Break-In:

  • Remain vigilant and do not leave valuables in your vehicles, even if you hide them, criminals will find them.
  • Keep your vehicles locked. This applies to parking lots as well as driveways.   
  • When parked, leave all windows-including sunroof-closed.
  • Park your vehicle in an area that’s highly visible to the public. 
  • Park in an area that has good lighting. 
  • Report any suspicious activity immediately to the police, this includes suspicious person(s) and vehicle(s). 
  • Try to obtain a good physical description of the person and vehicle description. 

What to do if you are a victim of a Vehicle Break-In:

  • Report the break-in to the police as soon as you become aware of it. 
  • Have a detailed list of anything missing. 
  • Immediately notify your financial institution if your driver’s license, checkbook, credit, and/or debit card or any other form of identification that may have been stolen. 

What To Do if You Were Scammed

Follow these steps from the Federal Trade Commission if you were a victim of a scam.

FOR CONSUMERS FOR BUSINESSES