Few scams are as dangerous as those that target your bank accounts. If you aren't careful, you could lose your entire savings. Learn how to spot and avoid these clever cons.
Don't Share Your Banking Info Easily
The easiest way to become a victim of a bank scam is to share your banking info — e.g., account numbers, PIN codes, social security number — with someone you don't know well and trust. If someone asks for sensitive banking details, proceed with caution.
Common Bank & Check Scams
As banking becomes more automated and electronic, the opportunities for scammers to fool you are increasing. Keep an eye out for these common scam attempts:
Fake Communications from “Your Bank”
Scammers can use all sorts of tricks to figure out which bank you use, including your social media and Internet activity (or just by guessing a major bank). They send you communications — mail, email, text messages, social media messages, etc. — that appear to be from your bank.
In these fake bank messages, the scammer will sometimes offer some great deal in exchange for an upfront fee, ask you to confirm your bank info for their records or report "suspicious activity" that you need to follow up on.
Guess what? They're lying.
Avoid This Scam: Your bank will never contact you for sensitive information by email or phone. If someone claims to be from your bank and asks you for sensitive info, there's a great chance they're trying to steal your money – so proceed with caution and reach out to your bank with a previously known phone number or website to confirm.
This scam, which often happens on the Internet, is one of the oldest on the books. Here's how it works:
You sell something online. Someone buys it. But they pay you with a check/money order that's more than the selling price. The buyer (who's often overseas) asks you to cash their check and wire/mail them the difference. You do as they ask, only to discover that their check/money order was a fake. This can even happen with a cashier's check!
But it's too late. You've already sent money, and now, you're being charged with a check return fee on top of the money you already lost.
Avoid This Scam: If you receive a non-cash payment—e.g., a check—call the issuing bank to confirm that it's a real check associated with a real account. You can also ask your bank to confirm the check's authenticity. Never send money (especially overseas) until you've confirmed the payment is legitimate.
Cashing a Check For Someone Else
This scam plays on your generosity and compassion. A stranger will approach you — often at a bank location — 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."
The trick? The check is no good. But it'll take a day or two for you to discover that. The money you pulled out to pay this stranger ends up being paid with your money, not the bad check. They're long gone, and you're left without anything to show for your kindness.
Avoid This Scam: Don't cash a check for anyone, especially a stranger. 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.
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 really just an excuse to gain access to your financial accounts, which they then use to wipe out your finances.
Avoid This Scam: If it's too good to be true, it probably is — especially whenever someone offers you a simple job with a potentially huge financial reward. Never take a job that requires you to pay a fee or upfront cost, no matter how the "employer" justifies it.