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These Banking Scams Have Affected Scores of People

The convenience of online banking and digital transactions has revolutionized the way we manage our financial affairs in the continuously expanding landscape of technology and finance. However, with these developments comes an increased chance of falling victim to different kinds of bank frauds designed by astute crooks. As technology advances, so do scammers' techniques, who are constantly devising new ways to exploit loopholes and get access to people's personal and financial information. Today, we must be aware of potential hazards and learn how to defend ourselves from falling victim to deceitful techniques.
Although financial scams aren't new, their frequency has recently increased. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reveals a staggering 70% surge in reported fraudulent activities from 2020 to 2021. Among the array of deceitful practices, impostor scams take the lead, with a significant number of them directly impacting bank accounts.
“[During the pandemic] many people spent a lot more time in front of the computer, and many bought, sold, donated, or otherwise engaged in transactions that resulted in the perpetration of fraud,” explains Salvatore LaScala, head of global financial crimes, fraud, investigations, and compliance at Guidehouse, a global consultancy firm.
Today, no one is immune from bank scams. However, by becoming aware of the latest bank scams, including the red flags for phishing, you will be able to avoid becoming a victim of them.

1. Overpayment Scams

Bank Scams, Overpayment
Overpayment scams involve a deceptive tactic where scammers manipulate victims into receiving a payment that is significantly higher than the agreed-upon amount, often in the form of a check or money order. For example, you might receive a $4,500 check when you were only expecting $2,000. Following this, the scammer urges you to make an electronic transfer through platforms like Zelle or other ACH services to cover the supposed $2,500 discrepancy.
Before you realize it, the check you initially received could bounce, and the scammers might have already obtained the additional money through a wire transfer or Cash App payment. This could happen even before you or your bank becomes aware of the fraudulent check. Consequently, the scammers walk away with $2,500, and you could find yourself facing charges for depositing a non-sufficient funds check and the possible closure of your bank account due to attempting to cash a deceitful check.
How to avoid this scam: 
* Refrain from accepting checks and instead opt for payment apps such as PayPal or request cash transactions. 
* When considering check payments, ensure your bank contacts the check issuer's bank to validate the availability of funds in their account. 
* Exercise caution against accepting payments exceeding the owed amount unless supported by documented evidence that the excess payment was intended as a form of appreciation.

2. Credit Card and Bank Account Scams

Bank Scams, Credit Card
You might find yourself the target of unsolicited emails or telephone calls, supposedly initiated by representatives of your credit card company or bank. These correspondences could urge you to call back to address an issue or guide you to a hyperlink for updating your account information.
Scammers may even state that they are investigating potential fraudulent activities involving your account and request information such as your account number or Social Security number to conduct a more thorough investigation. All of these activities share the goal of duping you into disclosing critical information.
How to avoid this scam: 
Avoid interacting with unofficial email links or attachments. If you receive suspicious phone messages with a callback number, it's better to ignore them. Calling the number provided by the scammer is fraught with risk. Financial experts advise calling the established number you already have to guarantee you speak with a legitimate bank worker and not a scammer.

3. Automatic Withdrawal Scams

Bank Scams, Withdrawal
Automatic withdrawals help you save and pay bills. Unfortunately, scammers use them for tricks too. They might call or send a card saying you have won something and ask for the numbers on your checks. This is a trick to get your banking details.
Once the fraudster obtains your checking and bank account information, they will place it on a demand draft, which is handled similarly to a check but does not require a signature. When your bank receives the draft, it will transfer funds from your checking account to pay the scammer. You may not notice the fraudulent transactions in your bank account until you carefully check your daily statements.
How to avoid this scam: 
* When disclosing personal information, exercise caution.
Be wary of unwanted phone calls or text messages saying you've won prizes.
Never give out the digits at the bottom of your checks to strangers. Before revealing any information, independently verify the veracity of any offer.
Examine your bank transactions regularly for any unlawful withdrawals. If something doesn't look right, contact your bank right away. Remember that real offers do not require sensitive information, and adopting these safeguards can help keep your money safe from scammers.

4. Loan Scam

Bank Scams, Loan
This kind of bank scam often targets people who urgently need money. You might come across an online ad from a company claiming it can help you get a loan from the government, a bank, or somewhere else. When you contact them, these scammers might request a payment to help you. But instead of giving useful advice, they might charge you an application fee or ask for personal details that they can misuse to access your bank account. Some scammers also have a 900 number; if you call it, you'll end up paying a lot of money on your phone bill.
How to avoid this scam: 
Keep in mind that there's no secret trick to guarantee loan approval. Everything they say can be found in books or on the internet. Even if the company seems real, never give money for a loan application fee – it's against the law.

5. Government Impostor Scams

Bank Scams,
Another common strategy in bank-related scams is someone impersonating a government representative. This impostor calls you, claiming that you've won a prize that requires the payment of taxes or fees to be processed. The swindler may use threats of legal action to force you into paying an alleged overdue amount. It is critical to understand that no real government body, whether using a fake or actual agency pseudonym, uses phone calls to request payments.
How to avoid this scam: 
* Be mindful of unsolicited calls. Verify the caller's identity independently using official contact information. Remember, government agencies won't demand immediate payments or threaten arrest over the phone.
Don't share personal or financial data, and refrain from making hasty payments.
Be skeptical of promises of prizes requiring fees. Educate yourself about common scam tactics and stay updated on current scams.
Trust your instincts, and if anything seems suspicious, hang up and report the incident to the proper authorities. Stay vigilant and prioritize safeguarding your sensitive information.

6. Lottery and Award Scams

Bank Scams,
There are various types of lottery and reward scams. Some fraudsters send messages to their target, claiming that they have won a prize and only need to pay the shipping charge to obtain it. Other con artists pretend to want to deposit money into your account when they are really just trying to steal it from you by asking for the details of your bank account.
How to avoid this scam: 
* Avoid giving any fees; authentic lotteries and contest-holding companies do not charge a fee.
* You probably didn't win a contest if you can't recall entering it.
* Before responding, do some research on the contest.
Remember that there is no such thing as the Federal Sweepstakes Board if someone claims to be from it. Sweepstakes are not governed by the government.
Inquire about the numbers on your winning lottery ticket from the caller. It's a scam if you don't have a ticket with those digits.

7. ATM Skimming

Bank Scams, ATM
Thieves use ATM skimming to steal people's credit and debit card information by secretly installing hidden recording devices on ATMs. This fraudulent activity might also take place at payment terminals found in petrol stations. One method involves placing a plastic cover over the keypad to record your typed PIN. Similarly, placing an overlay on the card slot allows these crooks to collect data from the magnetic stripe of the card.
Scammers can create counterfeit cards, withdraw payments, and conduct online purchases once they know your card number and PIN. These scammers may also sell stolen credit card information to criminal organizations for deceptive purposes.
How to avoid this scam: 
* Opt for cardless ATM transactions.
Avoid ATMs and payment terminals that appear damaged or have loose parts.
* Pay attention to whether the machine’s card reader appears bulkier than usual.
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