It is a known fact that scammers consistently engage in activities that attempt to illegally obtain the personal information of individuals. The ultimate goal is to gain access to a victim’s money. In recent years, there has been a vast array of scams making their way to everyday people attempting to just live their lives. The most common ones include charity scams, debt collection scams, lottery scams, and even mobile payment services fraud.
Recently, a new scam has emerged. That is, scammers pretending to be from a financial institution that is insured by the FDIC. In short, these scammers are pretending to be a bank. Yes, they have become this advanced. In this guide, you will learn about fake bank scams and be provided with information on how to avoid these types of scams.
The Fake Bank Website
Many scammers are tech-savvy. They will go through the process of creating a website that looks like the website of a legitimate bank; only, it is not. It is a fake bank.
The goal? It is to get people to provide their personal information and/or transfer money into the account. This type of scam is considered to be “phishing”; that is, they attempt to reach you through a website or through email. To complicate the issue, the scammers will put “FDIC” on the website or they will install the logo of “Member FDIC” on the site. This is to throw users off and to create a false sense of security. Before engaging in ANY online bank, you should ensure that the website and the bank is real.
How to Identify a Legitimate Bank
To ensure that you are dealing with a real bank and not a fake bank, you will need to consult with the data resource that is listed on the FDIC website called “BankFind”. Search for the bank where it says “Search for Institutions”.
You may search for the name of the bank or the address of the bank. If it is legitimate, it will be identified with a green check mark and will include a number under “FDIC Cert #”.
You may click “View Details” to learn more about the institution, such as when it was established, the Federal Regulator, the Main Office Address, Primary Website, Locations, and more. If you are still unsure, you may contact 1-877-ASK-FDIC.
Fake Banking Apps
In addition to fake websites, many scammers have created fake banking apps. These are designed to be installed on a phone or on a tablet. Once installed, it places malware on the device on which it was installed.
Fake banking apps have the capability of stealing personal information. They can also lock the device until a “ransom” is paid.
In addition to this, there are apps that will require a log in through your email account or your social media account. This exposes information and is that information is stolen.
When downloading apps, avoid granting certain permissions – such as access to contacts, text messages, and any passwords or financial accounts.
Avoid downloading apps that have misspelled words and seem suspicious. Scammers are highly creative and it no longer takes too much for them to gain access to your personal and financial information.
Links Contained Within Emails
If you are not familiar with the sender of an email, you should never click on any links contained within that email. In fact, even if you are familiar with the sender, you should be hesitant to click any links. In some cases, the links will download malicious types of software on your electronic device. In other instances, you may be directed to a website that requires you to enter your personal information.
You may believe that a reputable sender sent you the emails – such as a retailer or a bank – but scammers are capable of making illegitimate messages and websites look legitimate.
To identify these types of messages, you should watch for messages that contain weird font choices, mistakes, misspellings, typos, and are pushy. Do not download coupons, payment forms, or any other type of attachment. You should avoid those that seem to offer something that simply sounds much too good to be true. You should avoid messages that want you to pay a fee. A prime example is that which speaks of “FDIC Insurance Fees”. You should be aware of the fact that the FDIC does not charge any type of fee from customers.
Many scammers may elect to contact you through text messages. Known as “smishing” they will send a text, pretending to be a bank in an effort to get you to share your personal information. If you receive these texts, you will find that they have a high sense of urgency. To verify the message is – in fact – from a bank, you should call the bank directly using the phone number on your debit card. Do not contact through any phone number that is outlined on the text message. You may also contact the FDIC directly in order to determine if the supposed bank is fraudulent or real. Smishing is becoming increasingly popular among scammers due to the fact that so many people now utilize mobile devices.
Common Bank and Check Scams
It is a known fact that very few scams hold the same danger as those that directly target a bank account. You should never share your account number, your PIN to your debit card, or your Social Security Number with any person or business that you do not trust. The following outlines other common bank and check scams that should be avoided:
- Check Overpayment – This typically happens when someone buys something that you sell online. They give you more than the selling price and then request that you send them the difference. In the end, the original check comes back as a fake and you are out of the difference you sent plus the check return fee.
- Check Cashing – This occurs when someone asks you to cash a check because they have no bank account. If you do it, you will typically find within a couple of days that the check was no good. You should never cash a check for anyone.
- Job Scams – This scam involves offering – what seems to be – a legitimate job that may be done from home. To receive the commission, you have to transfer money in and out of a bank account. Eventually, the “company” will then wipe out all of the money on the bank account. You should never pay any type of fee to a company in order to work. If the job is legitimate, it will not require you to pay anything.
- Bank Impersonation Scams – These scams utilize people that pretend to be from security departments that are part of a bank. They use text messages, robocalls, emails, and other means to warn people of unusual and/or fraudulent activity that requires some sort of immediate action. They are simply trying to obtain personal information in an illegal manner. Do not ever give into these types of scams.
- Fake Check Scams – These scams ask you to deposit a check and send money back to claim prizes, pay taxes, and other activities. The most common include Mystery shopping scams, personal assistant scams, car wraps, claiming prizes/winnings, and overpayments.
You should take every precaution necessary to avoid bank scams. If you are faced with an issue with a bank and are unsure if it is a scam, you may contact the FDIC. If you are in search of a legitimate bank that will protect your finances, you may contact us today at Somerville Bank by visiting or calling one of our locations.