3 Scams that Target Your Bank Account - dummies

3 Scams that Target Your Bank Account

By Michael J. Arata, Jr.

Be aware of these three scams designed to drain your bank account. (If you keep your cash under the mattress, then you have a different set of worries!)

The bank examiner scam

In a nutshell, the thief approaches you stating that he’s investigating a dishonest teller and says that a bank official will be contacting you about how you can help. The bank official will want you to withdraw your own money to help with the investigation.

Don’t fall for this old scam. Law enforcement doesn’t ask you for money to conduct an investigation. Most of the time, law enforcement conducts the investigation without soliciting any help. This helps keep the investigation covert so that those under investigation aren’t alerted that they’re being targeted.

What to do: If someone approaches you about an investigation and says that a bank official will be contacting you about how you can help, tell her to hit the road. Then call the police to report it and give a description of the person who approached you.

The doctored ATM scam

Automatic teller machines (ATMs) are so convenient for bank customers — and thieves. To perpetrate this scam, the thieves install wireless equipment on legitimate ATMs to steal your ATM card number and personal identification number (PIN).

The attachment fits over the existing card slot and looks like the original slot. The attachment reads the information on your card and captures the ATM card number. A camera, placed in the bottom deposit-envelope holder, captures your keystrokes when you type your PIN. The thieves usually install several of these “doctored ATMs” in one area.

To capture the information, the thieves sit in a car nearby and receive the wireless transmissions for the doctored ATMs. The best time for thieves to capture ATM card numbers and PINs is on weekends and holidays. Armed with the information, the thieves proceed to withdraw thousands of dollars from the accounts.

What to do: Be wary of using ATM machines that seem out of the ordinary. For example:

  • The card slot has cracks around the edges where the holder is affixed to the machine. This is a sign of tampering.

  • You see unusual instructions on the ATM screen, such as asking you to enter your PIN three times.

  • The holder for the deposit envelopes on either side of the machine is located where a camera would have a clear shot at the keypad.

    Cover the keypad when you type in your PIN by placing either your right or left hand over the keypad while you type in your PIN with the other hand. You should be able to shield the screen and still see what you’re typing.

The “temporary suspension of your account” scam

The “temporary suspension of your account” scam is set up either in an e-mail or a telephone call. The thieves use the scare tactic that your bank account (or online payment or online auction account) has been suspended.

The e-mail sender or phone caller claims that the bank is undertaking a review of all its accounts to eliminate waste and fraud. You’re then requested to visit the “company’s” website to provide the information necessary to do a review of your account and to make sure that the information on file is correct.

The requested information is the usual: full name, account number, ATM/debit card number, and PIN. The e-mail sender or phone caller goes on to say that if you don’t provide the information, your account will be permanently canceled.

You know what happens next! You become the victim of identity theft.

What to do: When in doubt, don’t provide the information. Contact your bank instead.