Be Aware of Holiday Scams

Dec 2019 | Financial Education

Fraud schemes are hardly limited to the holidays, but they tend to spike during this high-spending and stressful time of the year. Alaska Air Group Credit Union would like to help arm you with information on the fraud practices you may encounter and how to avoid becoming a victim.

Technology has created many more options for cardholders to access accounts and make purchases, fraud too has opened up more sophisticated avenues. It’s important to continue to be skeptical about calls, texts, and emails. Here are several fraud methods you may encounter:


Brute Force Schemes

Attempts to crack a password or username, find a hidden web page, or find the key used to encrypt a message using a trial-and-error approach to guess correctly. This is an old attack method, but it’s still effective and popular with hackers as they work, whether to crack a single card number or complete BIN.



Using electronic devices to surreptitiously scan and store credit and debit card numbers and PINs. ATMs and some unattended terminals, such as gas stations, are targets for this practice. This information can then be sold to fraudsters or used to commit theft directly. Fraudsters can use the numbers to make online purchases or to create fake cards for in-store transactions.



The fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers.


SMiShing (SMS phishing)

Act of attempting to acquire personal information such as passwords and details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity through SMS text messages on cell phones. SMiShing messages may come from telephone numbers that are in a strange or unexpected format with links directing to fake websites.

A typical SMiShing occurrence can begin by you receiving a text message inquiring about a suspicious transaction on an account. In reality, the fraudster is looking to obtain other information from you such as debit/credit card numbers, CV2 codes, expiration dates, PINs and other web login credentials.

A legitimate SMS text messages from Alaska Air Group Credit Union will NEVER include:

  • Requests for cardholder’s data, such as card numbers, PINs, CV2 Codes, or Expiration Dates
  • Vague reference of a “merchant” transaction; details should be included
  • Hyperlinks to unknown websites
  • Phone numbers as hyperlinks



The telephone equivalent of phishing. It is described as the act of using the telephone to scam the user into surrendering private information that will be used for fraudulent purchases or identity theft.


Some holiday scams you may see:


Seasonal Travel Scams

  • Beware of deals that are too good to be true
  • You should always know who they are booking their travel through


Holiday Charity Scams

  • A legitimate charity will welcome donations whenever you chooses to make it. Fraudsters will pressure them to make it immediately.
  • Don’t make any donation with a gift card or wire transfer.


Account Takeover

  • All user information is targeted in data breaches, not just payment card information.
  • As fraud controls get smarter, fraudsters are shifting their strategies and patterns to bypass controls.


If you are worried about fraud, we recommend you download the CardValet App to be used with your Alaska Air Group Credit Union debit card. The Card Valet App allows you to:

  • Turn your own card on or off, or set restrictions on transactions by type, location, or amount.
  • Set your own notifications for transactions by type, location, or amount.


If you have any fraud-related questions, or want more information on adding a risk solution, please reach out to the credit union at or call us at 206-824-9800

The Cost of College Life

Believe it or not, back to school is right around the corner. If you're headed off to college in the fall, you have hopefully started thinking about your budget. One of the many mysteries of...

Getting a Car

When looking for a new car, you have three main options: buy used, buy new, or lease. There are pros and cons to each method. Your choice will be based on various financial considerations, driving...

2022 Scholarship Award Winners

Alaska Air Group Credit Union offers scholarships to benefit members and their families. The purpose of this scholarship program is to recognize and provide financial assistance to college or...
Alaska Air Group Credit Union
Seattle Office
(206) 824-9800
Anchorage Office
(907) 563-5335