The Automatic Debit
A fraudulent telemarketer may call you with the claim that you have won a free prize or qualified for a major credit card, when in fact you may have had past credit problems. They ask for your checking account information so they can “verify” the offer, and with that they can start making debits from your account. While it is sometimes hard to detect an automatic debit scam, if you heed this advice you should not have to worry about being a victim:
- Don’t give out your checking account number over the phone unless you know the company and understand why the information is necessary.
- If someone says your call is being taped, ask why. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
- Companies should not ask you for your bank account information unless you have expressly agreed to this payment method.
Federal law requires anyone accepting a checking account payment over the phone to provide you with the following information:
- The date and amount of the withdrawal;
- The name of the business receiving your payment;
- Whether it will be one transaction or many;
- A telephone number for you to call during normal business hours; and
- The date that you give your oral authorization for the transaction.
The Bank Examiner
A con artist posing as an FBI agent, bank examiner, police officer, detective or bank official contacts you to request your assistance with an investigation. You are asked to withdraw funds from your account to give to them, with the promise that you will get your money back when the investigation is over.
The Pigeon Drop
Pairs or groups of con artists will work together to scam you out of a lot of money. One or two people befriend you, and another approaches claiming a large find of cash or valuables. After a lengthy discussion, they will agree to split the items or money equally with you, but at another location where you are to meet later. They ask you to give them some money to show they can trust you, which they claim they will return when you reach the meeting place. Of course, when you arrive, there is no one there.
Criminals have discovered any easy way to steal your identity by masquerading as a bank or credit card company and sending you e-mails asking you to verify your Social Security number, PIN or other sensitive information. Don’t give these shysters what they’re "phishing" for!
Tips for Avoiding These Swindles
- Do not take part if you feel uncomfortable.
- Do not withdraw large sums of money at someone else’s request without consulting a bank or law enforcement official.
- Trust the people you know and be cautious with friendly strangers. Get to know people first.
- Be aware that banks generally require more clearance for large withdrawal requests, and that financial institutions and the government do not use customers to conduct investigations.
- Don’t respond to an e-mail that appears to be from a financial institution and asks for your account or other personal information.
If you believe you have been a victim of any of these scams, you may file a complaint with the Governor's Office of Consumer Protection.