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Beware of Five Common Bank Account Scams

August 8, 2019

According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Scam Tracker Annual Risk Report, more than 50,000 people in the U.S. filed scam reports with the Better Business Bureau in 2018, The first six months of 2019 are on track for an even greater number.

Unlike credit card fraud, where the maximum liability under federal law is $50, there is no financial protection for bank account scams. Scammers often convince victims to deposit fake checks and forward a portion of the cash to them. By the time the check is discovered to be fraudulent, the scammer has disappeared and the victim is left to cover the cost of the bad check. Be on the lookout for five common scams that could target your bank account:

Credit Card and Bank Account Scams

You may get emails or calls from someone who claims to be from your credit card issuer or your bank. The message may ask you to click on a link to update your account information or call back to discuss a problem. In some cases, scammers may even claim they are investigating possible fraud on your account and ask for details such as your account number or Social Security number so they can investigate further. These are all attempts to get you to hand over sensitive information.

Avoid this scam!  Do not click on any email links or attachments. Scam phone messages may include a callback number, but you should ignore that. Don’t call the number they give you. Call the number you have for the bank or credit card company.  Otherwise, you will find yourself on the phone with the scammer, rather than an actual bank representative.

Charity Scams

Not everyone asking for a charitable donation may be on the up and up.  You could receive a call asking for donations to the local police department or to military families. The scammers elicit information about your bank account or debit card to make your donation over the phone – giving them full access to your checking account.

Avoid this scam!  To make sure your good intentions don’t go to waste, the safest way to give to a charity is by choosing an organization you know and trust. Be wary of giving your information to individuals who reach out by telephone or email.

Online Lending Scams

Victims of this scam are often people who have trouble obtaining a loan through a bank. They may receive an email from a “lender” or find a website offering easy access to money. Because people are used to providing a lot of information to secure a loan, they don’t think twice about providing sensitive information.

Avoid this scam!  Always check reviews and the Better Business Bureau rating of any company offering a loan. If there are no reviews or ratings to be found, the business may not be real.

Award Scams

Have you ever received a call telling you that you’ve won a foreign lottery? Don’t believe it!  Scammers will send you a large check to deposit into your personal checking account. You will then be asked to immediately wire a portion of the funds to pay for government taxes and administrative fees.

Avoid this scam!  If you didn’t enter the contest, you didn’t win it. Note that it is illegal to participate in a foreign lottery via mail or phone in the U.S. And, when winning a lottery, you will not be responsible for paying taxes or fees directly to the government.

IRS Scams

If you see a tax return deposit from the IRS in your bank account and you haven’t yet filed taxes, run!   Chances are that someone filed taxes under your name and will contact you posing as an IRS employee, telling you it was an error.  They will ask you to refund the entire amount by check.

Avoid this scam!  Contact your bank immediately and they will communicate directly with the IRS to delete the transaction.  You will then be required to obtain a special PIN from the IRS to file your taxes electronically.

Call the professionals at First Bank of the Palm Beaches if you think your account has been compromised or if you think you have been a victim of a scam.