by Shane Adair, Marketing Manager
Bank-related fraud is an unfortunately common issue in the U.S. and around the world. Because scams generally have a financial angle, it's common for a variety of malicious schemes to somehow involve your bank account, credit or debit card, and other valuable assets. Let's look at some of the most common scams that target individuals, as well as how you can protect yourself against instances of financial fraud.
While some scams can unfortunately draw on publicly available details about you to make them more convincing, there are simple steps you can take to significantly reduce the chances of falling victim to such a scheme. The Federal Trade Commission offered suggestions such as never providing money or sensitive information in response to a text, phone call or email. If the financial institution, business or nonprofit contacting you is legitimate, you can look up its phone number or website to make sure the request is legitimate and comes from the organization in question before moving forward.
Other important tips for avoiding scams include maintaining a healthy skeptical attitude toward unsolicited offers, requests and demands to pay. If something sounds too good to be true, it likely is. If the name of the organization contacting you is unfamiliar, research them independently before making any decisions. Should that company be legitimate, the offer or opportunity will still exist after you ensure it's on the level. The FTC also suggested never depositing a check and then wiring money back to the sender - the foundation of a long-running fake check scam - or pay up front for a promise like debt relief, loan or a job.
U.S. News & World Report pointed to a common type of fraud used to trick the general public, the similar credit card and bank account scams. This type of fraud starts with a fraudulent phone call or message from someone pretending to work at your bank or credit card issuer. They will either attempt to get you to reveal sensitive account details on the phone or click a link that may use malware to access stored information. If you ever receive a call or message similar to this and aren't sure if it's legitimate, it's best to hang up or not follow the included link, then use publicly available contact information to reach out to your bank or card issuer.
As already mentioned, the fake check scam is often used by fraudsters. This type of fraud takes many forms, as Fraud.org pointed out. The criminal targeting the individual will offer to pay for something or otherwise provide a check or other type of payment besides cash, like a bank transfer, in excess of the amount agreed upon. The fraudster will ask the target to cash the check and send back the amount overpaid. The scam comes from the initial form of payment not being legitimate in the first place. The check will bounce, but the waiting period for that type of transaction to be completed provides a window for the criminal to scam the target and receive money that ultimately comes from the target's own bank account.
Charity scams are similar to check, bank and credit card scams in that they use a veneer of believability to try to take personal details or money from the target. Charity Navigator suggested deleting any unsolicited emails that come with attachments, always visiting the charity website you independently find as opposed to clicking an email link, and never send money to a foreign bank. These simple steps can help you avoid potential scams.
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