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Bank account scams: How to protect yourself?

Nov 23, 2020 - Koby Pearson

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You always need to be on your guard when it comes to banking and your funds. That doesn't mean being suspicious or paranoid. Instead, it means having a healthy skepticism towards individuals or companies, especially when it comes to money matters.

Scammers can always find a way to trick you offline and online. There is an all-time scam that I personally face every month: someone with a harsh voice calls me and asks for my card details because there has been "suspicious activity."

However, that is not the only bank account scam one may face. Therefore, we want to tell you about the most popular traps that scammers set pretending to be trustworthy and legitimate organizations.

Fake texts and calls from "your bank"

Scammers can use all kinds of tricks to figure out which bank you use. They can send you emails, text messages, social media messages that appear to be from your bank. In these fake bank messages, the scammer will offer some great deal in exchange for a one-time fee, ask you to confirm your bank info for their records, or report "suspicious activity." Wanna know a secret? This is all fake.

Your bank will never ask for sensitive information by email or phone. If someone claims to be from your bank and asks you for your bank details, there's a great chance they're trying to steal your money, so proceed with caution and reach out to your bank to confirm this call or text was not fake.

Check overpayment

This online scam is one of the oldest ever. You sell something online, and someone buys it. But they pay you with a check that's more than the selling price. The buyer asks you to cash their check and mail them the difference. You do as they ask, only to realize that their check was a fake. But it's too late. You have already sent money, and now, you're charged with a check return fee on top of the money you lost.

If you receive a non-cash payment, call the issuing bank to confirm the check's authenticity. Only after they confirm the payment is authorized, send your funds.

Cashing a check for someone else

A stranger will approach you and ask you to cash a check for them. "I don't have an account at this bank," they'll say, "and I need someone to cash the check for me and give me the money."

It'll take a day or two for you to discover that the check is no good. The money you pulled out to pay this stranger ends up being paid with your money. They're long gone, and you're left without anything to show for your kindness. If someone asks you to cash a check for them, explain that they can cash the check themselves, minus a small non-customer fee. They don't need your help to get their money.

Job scams

There are countless scammers out there who'll pretend they have a legitimate, work-at-home job for you: in exchange for a commission, you'll transfer funds in and out of your bank account. Sounds quick and easy, right? And it is until you realize that this "job" is just an excuse to gain access to your financial accounts.

Never take a job that requires you to pay a fee or upfront cost, no matter how the "employer" justifies it.

And as a bonus. Some more quick tips to protect yourself from bank account frauds:

  1. Don't believe every email or text message you receive.
  2. Don't let your guard down in the face of unexpected situations (very actual right now, during the pandemic).
  3. Don't share your bank details over social media.
  4. Don't share personal information about your identity
  5. Don't pounce too quickly on online deals.
  6. Exercise caution when buying or selling stuff online.

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How Do I Protect Myself From Online Fraud?

Fraud on the Internet has been around for about as long as the world wide web itself. From year to year, fraudsters develop new tricks and techniques to deceive their potential victims. To avoid getting into online traps, be sure to follow some basic rules:

  • Check your social media privacy settings and never share information with people you don’t know.
  • Create strong and different passwords for each website you use. Experts say you should change all your passwords once in a few months.
  • Always be cautious when using public Wi-Fi. You can use it for general browsing, but never use it for shopping or banking.
  • Do not open suspicious texts, pop-up windows, links, or attachments in emails.
  • Never send money or give credit card details, online account details, or copies of personal documents to people you don’t know or trust.
  • Be wary of unusual payment requests. Scammers will often ask you to use an atypical payment method, including gift cards or virtual currency, such as Bitcoin.

What to Do If I Have Become a Victim of Online Fraud?

Sometimes people choose not to report fraud because they are embarrassed that they fell for a scam. Remember that fraud is a crime, and fraudsters will continuously find new ways of tricking people. Anyone can become a victim, so you need to do your best to prevent this.

The first thing you should do if you become a fraud victim is to contact the police. Come to the local police station or call an emergency number to get advice. Contact your bank first if credit cards, online banking, or cheques are involved.

If your funds were transferred via an electronic payment system (PayPal, WebPay, etc.), it makes sense to contact the support service. The support service can block a scammer's account, preventing potential theft.

Can I Get My Money Back?

If fraudsters have stolen your card details, you need to call your bank's support service and block your card. After that, go to the bank and submit an application to cancel the transfer. Reviewing your application can take up to 30 days. Remember to bring evidence that you were deceived and take it both to the bank and the police.

According to the statistics, only 23 percent reported money out of the 1.7 million cases was lost, meaning you have a chance to return your funds.

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