What You Need to Know: Banking Fraud & Awareness
Gone are the days of stopping at the bank every payday to deposit your check and withdraw the cash you need for the following week. With the overwhelming number of options now available for managing your finances online, you may find yourself setting foot in your local bank less and less often.
However, as consumers take more active control of their money, scammers and thieves have updated their tactics to match the sophistication of the current age. Today, we break down banking fraud, what potential problems on the horizon you should know about, and what steps you can take today to keep your cash right where it belongs.
Scams and Schemes
The phrase “banking fraud” is an umbrella term that incorporates any attempt by an unauthorized individual or party to access your bank account. Far from the bank robbers of old, with giant sacks of cash slung across their back, thieves often use a variety of Internet-based strategies to get at your money. Some standard fraud methods that you may already be familiar with include:
- Overpayment scams:An unknown person sends you a check, requests that you deposit it, then asks for part of the money wired back to them. However, the check is fake, and you'll owe the bank the total amount.
- Unsolicited check fraud:A check you were not expecting shows up in the mail. Once cashed, you may be approving a purchase or loan you were unaware of.
- Phishing: An email from an unknown source asks you to confirm a bank account number or other sensitive identifying information. Once clicked, the links embedded in the email may also steal data without the need to have you fill in any blanks.
New Age, New Ideas
In the post-pandemic years, more of our lives are online than ever. Some of us work, shop, and entertain ourselves entirely via the Internet. This reality creates the perfect opportunity for scammers searching for victims who may find themselves overwhelmed by the amount of information on their screens daily. Some of the tactics increasing in popularity among thieves are:
- Business email compromises (BEC):A scammer impersonates an executive at a relevant company or workplace, demanding large payments and immediate responses.
- Technical support scams:A fake IT or technical assistance staff member calls a victim requesting passwords or other points of access to personal accounts.
- Investment scams:Fake investment sites that appear legitimate draw in unsuspecting prospective investors.
Once you understand how many ways people may try to access your money, it’s prudent to wonder what the next steps should be. Rather than withdrawing all of your money and keeping it under your mattress, we have some solid recommendations on keeping yourself safe from scammers
- Become suspicious of inquiries and communications from sources you do not know, especially if they ask you for sensitive information, enter you into an obscure lottery, or offer some grand prize that feels too good to be true. (Spoiler alert: it probably is.)
- Verify the authenticity of a cashier’s check with the bank it’s drawn on, using the contact information listed on the bank’s website.
- Trust checks or money orders from people or companies you do not know, especially if they are apparent overpayments.
- Wire money or offer bank information to strangers who call you.
- Click on any links in emails regarding your bank account from sources that are not known and trusted financial institutions.
If you do find yourself the victim of a banking scam, or notice suspicious activity that you believe to imply fraudulent behavior, do not panic. You can report any kind of scam.
The reporting body you should contact depends on the scam method. For instance, you can report fake checks you receive in the mail to the US Postal Inspection Service. You should report counterfeit checks obtained by other means directly to the Federal Trade Commission. Phishing emails can also be forwarded straight the FTC at email@example.com. Above all, stop any unauthorized automatic withdrawals immediately by contacting your bank.
No matter the mode or method, staying on top of your financial wellbeing is possible. Stay aware of your own activity, keep your passwords up to date, and move forward with the peace of mind of knowing that your money is secure. Interested in learning more about “safe” banking? Contact us today.