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Common Bank Account Scams To Avoid

Illustration of a robber in a ski mask holding a giant magnet, pulling coins from a phone that reads “send”

With the rise of the internet, credit and debit cards, and mobile payment options over the last few decades, scammers have more channels than ever to try and access your hard-earned savings. It’s important to protect yourself from bank account scams that target your finances, but it can be hard to know what to look for to avoid being scammed.

As a part of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we’re here to offer helpful advice on common types of bank account scams, what to look for, and how to avoid them.

What Happens if I Get Scammed?

Depending on the type of scam, several different things can happen once you fall victim to an anonymous scammer. Some types of scams are a one-time deal—a scammer takes your money and runs off, like a robbery. However, other types of bank account scams are ongoing and only stop once you can fully secure your bank account again.

Since these scammers operate in a way that makes them hard to trace, it can be difficult or impossible to get your stolen money back. Plus, once someone has been scammed, scammers will often record their information as a potential easy target, and they will begin to receive even more scam attempts.

Common Types of Bank Account Scams

A confused middle-aged woman sits at her laptop with her hand in the air

There are new types of bank account scams popping up all the time, but these are a few of the most common types of scams that target thousands of Americans every year.

Overpayment Scams

Recently, overpayment scams have become more and more common, likely due to the fact that they are relatively believable and play off human emotion. An overpayment scam involves a scammer sending money to their victim, usually by check, often as payment for an item the victim is selling. The amount on the check will be significantly larger than the price of the item that the victim is selling, and the scammer will request that the extra money be sent back to them. A few weeks later, the victim discovers that the original check was fraudulent, and they lose out on the “extra money” they returned to the scammer—and often the item they were selling.

An overpayment scam can also take the form of an online refund that the scammer, who is impersonating customer service for a large company, tricks the victim into thinking has been transferred to their account. The refund will be larger than the amount the scammer told the victim they would receive, and they ask for the extra money back. Once the victim sends the extra money back, they discover that the original transfer was never made, and they lose out on the money they’ve now sent.

To avoid these scams, make sure when selling something online that you only accept cash or a secure transfer app, like Venmo or PayPal. And if somebody contacts you needing information or access to your account, call the customer service number of the company they claim to work for.

Phishing Scams

In a phishing scam, a scammer will typically try to steal your information by getting you to click on a link or enter private information in a form. These phishing attempts often show up as emails. Similar to an overpayment scam, the scammer may pretend to work for customer service at a large company or may even pose as a member of your own company, asking you to follow a link or asking for your account information for work purposes. The link you click can contain malware that has the potential to record your login credentials and passwords for the scammer to use.

To be safe, don’t open any emails from untrusted sources—they may be disguising phishing scams. Most email services do a good job of filtering these types of messages into spam, but still, practice caution when checking your emails.

Credit Card Skimmers

A credit card skimmer is an innocuous device that a scammer will attach to a credit card reader. They’re usually located at a gas pump, ATM, or other unsupervised card reader, though sometimes they are attached to card readers inside stores or gas stations. When you swipe your card through a reader that has a card skimmer attached to it, the skimmer will record your credit or debit card information for the scammer to steal.

To protect yourself from a credit card skimmer, make sure to get a good look at any card reader system before you swipe your card. A card skimmer will often be attached to the system’s magnetic stripe reader itself, so feel around and even pull on the reader to ensure there’s nothing attached.

Fake Job Scams

Fake job scams became more prevalent during the first COVID-19 lockdown when many Americans were laid off or otherwise unemployed and looking for work. A fake job scam often involves a scammer, posing as a recruiter, interviewing, or even offering a job to their victim. This fake job could be posted on a job board or recruiting website, or the scammer may reach out directly to their victim via email or phone.

The fake job is usually very enticing, with a low barrier to entry and the promise of quick money or a high salary. These scams often lead to overpayment scams or even identity theft if the scammer can convince the victim to send personal information like their bank account number or Social Security number. Bank account scams that involve fake jobs work because they often target people who are desperate for employment and play off their emotions by offering huge salaries or hourly wages. Remember: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

100 dollar bill hanging from a fishing hook, used as bait

What To Look For To Avoid Getting Scammed

In general, scammers try to invoke a sense of urgency when setting up their scams. They know that if they give their victim too long to think, they may realize that things don’t add up. So don’t let yourself be rushed into any decisions when dealing with a stranger online. Take your time and trust your gut. In general, never give out any personal information online unless it’s a website you trust. Consider limiting the personal information you keep on your social media profiles, like your birthday, address, and phone number. And above all, never send money to a stranger online, even if they promise to pay you back tenfold.

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

As a part of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, Landmark National Bank is committed to educating Kansas residents about cybersecurity and the potential dangers online. With a bit of education, you can protect yourself from scammers online so nobody gains access to your bank account.

Protect Your Financial Future With Landmark National Bank

For us at Landmark National Bank, security is a top priority. We will never request personal information like your bank account number, Social Security number, or any password via email or phone. If you’re looking for a bank that takes your security and your finances seriously, open a checking account with Landmark National Bank today.

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