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Federal Deposit
Insurance Corporation

Each depositor insured to at least $250,000 per insured bank

FDIC Consumer News - Summer 2018
25th Anniversary Edition

[2017] Financial Scams: The Basics on How to Protect Your Personal Information and Your Money

Excerpted from “10 Scams Targeting Bank Customers: The Basics on How to Protect Your Personal Information and Your Money,” Summer 2017.

The FDIC often hears from bank customers who believe they may be the victims of financial fraud or theft, and our staff members provide information on where and how to report suspicious activity. To help, FDIC Consumer News includes crime prevention tips in practically every issue. Here are some scams you should be aware of and some key defenses to remember.

Government “imposter” frauds: These schemes often start with a phone call, a letter, an email, a text message or a fax supposedly from a government agency, requiring an upfront payment or personal financial information, such as Social Security or bank account numbers. They might tell you that you owe taxes or fines or that you have an unpaid debt. They might even threaten you with a lawsuit or to arrest you if you don’t pay. Remember that if you provide personal information it can be used to commit fraud or be sold to identity thieves.

Fraudulent job offers: Criminals pose online or in classified advertisements as employers or recruiters offering enticing opportunities, such as working from home. But if you’re required to pay money in advance to “help secure the job” or you must provide a great deal of personal financial information for a “background check,” those are red flags of a potential fraud.

“Phishing” emails: Scam artists send emails pretending to be from banks, popular merchants or other known entities, and they ask for personal information such as bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, dates of birth and other valuable details. The emails usually look legitimate because they include graphics copied from authentic websites.

Overpayment scams: This popular scam starts when a stranger sends a consumer or a business a check for something, such as an item being sold on the internet, but the check is for far more than the agreed-upon sales price. The scammer then tells the consumer to deposit the check and wire the difference to someone else who is supposedly owed money by the same check writer. In a few days, the check is discovered to be a counterfeit, and the depositor may be held responsible for any money wired out of the bank account. Victims may end up owing thousands of dollars to the financial institution that wired the money, and sometimes they’ve also sent the merchandise to the fraud artists, too.

Here are some basic precautions to consider, especially when engaging in financial transactions with strangers.

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