It pays to stay on top of the latest ways fraudsters try to separate you from your hard-earned money. Here are some scams to steer clear of.
There are two common types of deposit scams. In the first, a stranger must transact with you in some way — whether purchasing something valuable from you, such as a car, paying you for a job, or awarding sweepstakes winnings or some other ruse. The fraudster sends you a phony check for more than the amount agreed upon — and then asks for the additional funds back. You deposit the check and send the money, only to discover the check is bad and the extra money you paid back is gone with the wind. Another type of deposit scam occurs when fraudsters recruit people for work-at-home jobs involving secret shoppers, or offer to assist with grants or loans. If you consider such an opportunity, you’ll be asked to provide your online or mobile banking credentials, allowing bad checks to be deposited into your account. Once the deposit is made, the victim is instructed to purchase gift cards. All this happens so fast that the funds have not cleared causing the account to have a negative balance.
What to Do
Just say no. There is never a legitimate reason for someone to give you a check and then ask for part of it back. Never deposit checks from, or wire money or gift cards to people you don’t know, and never give your online banking credentials to anyone — ever.
Account Takeover Scam
One of the ways fraudsters attempt to “take over” an account is over the phone. Scammers will call your financial institution and use personal or stolen information — the kind that has been compromised in recent data breaches, such as the one at Equifax — to pretend they are you. This could give fraudsters access to your account and the ability to reset your password.
What to Do
Ask that a code word be added to your account and don’t share it with anyone. SchoolsFirst FCU will always ask you for the code word to verify your identity, even over chat. Keep your personal identification number, or PIN, confidential. Set up fraud alerts. Switch from paper to eStatements, and always shred your paper documents.
Escrow Wire Fraud
Fraudsters have found ways to hack into email accounts of real estate agents and escrow or title companies and intercept pending real estate transactions. They’ll send fake emails to buyers or lenders telling them where to wire the settlement funds. Once the money is wired, the hacker withdraws it immediately.
What to Do:
Never wire money unless you have checked the wire instructions independently with your title company, or settlement or closing agent. If wiring instructions change, assume the change is fraudulent. Many agents will confirm the instructions over the phone; just make sure you can verify you’re talking to the right person. Always use strong passwords for your email accounts, and update them regularly.
P2P Payments Fraud
Person-to-person payments, or P2P, is an online payment technology that allows you to transfer money from your bank account or credit card to someone else’s account using the web or your mobile device. But remember, most P2P payment transfer services are meant for use between family and friends only; they’re not set up for buying or selling goods or services. In such instances, scammers will set up bank accounts to sell things like concert tickets. When the buyer sends the money, the fraudster takes it, never sends the tickets and closes the account.
What to Do:
Don’t use a P2P payment service designed to transfer money between family and friends for transactions with people you don’t know.
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Extra Credit provides general information to help improve our Member’s financial lives. Every situation is different, so please contact us for guidance on your specific needs. The advice provided in Extra Credit is not intended to serve as a substitute for speaking to a loan representative, financial advisor, or BALANCE counselor who can help tailor a solution for you.
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