Bank Fraud 101: Preventing, Detecting and Responding to Bank Scams

Bank fraud is a massive threat to online financial accounts today. Consumers must learn how to protect themselves and how to respond to cybercrime against their accounts.
Bank fraud

The Federal Trade Commission reported almost 1.7 million cases of bank fraud in 2019. This type of identity theft includes bank account takeover, loan, wire, debit, and check fraud. This crime affects businesses, banks, and consumers, but this article focuses on individuals like yourself. We will explore the warning sides of fraud, help you learn how to protect your accounts, and how to respond if a bank scam victimizes you. 

Here are some of the topics we’ll address:

How Do Bank Frauds Happen? 

Criminals use a variety of ways to compromise your accounts and are always coming up with new methods. These scammers will often harvest information from people-search sites and then launch attacks against their victims. 

Cybercriminals target people via fake emails (phishing attacks), such as the Bank of America scam email. These emails are one of the most common phishing attacks. In the Bank of America email scams, the perpetrators appear to be emailing from BOA and include a link to a fraudulent site that captures the victim’s log-in information. There are many variations of the Bank of America scams.

Phone scams include text messages and voice calls aimed at cheating you out of your sensitive information and, eventually, your money. Some criminals will go through potential victims’ trash and steal personal documentation.

Criminals may sell the information they have compiled about victims, including highly sensitive data like social security numbers. But even if your SSN is not exposed, there is plenty of other personal information in people search records, including names, contact details, and family data that may be used by fraudsters in social engineering schemes.

See also: How Do I Find Out if Someone is Using My Social Security Number?

One of the best starting points in protecting yourself from bank fraud and other identity theft is to remove your sensitive information exposed by information brokers on the web. You can do it manually with the help of our actionable opt-out guides or use the OneRep automated removal tool to permanently delete your unauthorized profiles compiled and published by people-search sites. Thwart cybercriminals before they even begin!

Am I At Risk?

Sadly, everyone is at risk of bank fraud, including you. Even if you do not bank online or currently have bank accounts, fraudsters may create new accounts in your name or hijack the ones you opened in person and have never even used online before. 

Types of Bank Fraud

These are some of the most frequently used current types of bank frauds:

Bank Fraud Involving Identity Theft

A victim may find unauthorized activity on their account. This type of identity theft usually involves criminals impersonating the victim to complete fraudulent transactions.

  • OneRep Safety Tip

Be wary of scammers purporting to be from your bank and never give out sensitive information in response to unsolicited emails, texts, or phone calls.

Bank Account Takeover

Bank account takeover is similar to bank fraud involving identity theft; however, in this case, the cybercriminal completely takes over your account. They may change the password and contact information.

Related: Account Takeover Fraud: Everything You Need to Know About Prevention, Detection and Recovering After An Attack

  • OneRep Safety Tip

Be on the lookout for your bank’s monthly statements and contact your financial institution if they are missing.

Loan Fraud

This type of bank fraud occurs when criminals apply for a loan using the victim’s identity. The fraudsters disappear with the loan money, and the lender looks to the victim for repayment. 

  • OneRep Safety Tip

Set up credit alerts that advise you of any new loan activity and other potential banking fraud. Many services will do this, including free ones.

Wire Transfer Fraud

Wires are difficult to trace and reverse, and money sent out of an account by a victim to a scammer or a cybercriminal is usually lost. 

  • OneRep Safety Tip

Be wary of any scheme that asks you to send a wire transfer instead of using another payment method. Only send wires to trusted, known parties.

Debit and Credit Card Fraud

When criminals get a victim’s debit or credit card number, they often use it to make unauthorized transactions.  A large number of bank fraud cases happen with this method.

  • OneRep Safety Tip

Cybercriminals sometimes alter credit card terminals to illicitly capture card information. Carefully inspect credit card machines for signs of tampering.

Check Fraud

Check fraud occurs when criminals use the victim’s bank account number to produce and use fake checks.

  • OneRep Safety Tip

Checks are easily counterfeited. Whenever possible, pay with a credit or debit card to avoid having your paper checks circulating amongst many different hands.

How Do I Know I’m a Victim?

A few apparent signs of bank fraud are noticing unauthorized transactions on your account, being unable to sign in to your account because a cybercriminal has changed your password, or getting notification from your bank about fraud. Another red flag is a  lack of expected communications from your bank.

How do I Deal With Bank Fraud?

  • Call the bank from a phone number you get from your card, previous statements, or from their website. 

  • Be sure your cell phone, computer, and tablets are updated with the latest operating systems and run malware checks.

  • Change your bank PIN numbers, security questions, and set strong passwords.

  • Turn on any added security on your account, such as multi-factor authentication.

  • Check your credit reports for any suspicious activity.

  • Remove your personal information from people-search engines that expose your data to bad actors.

How do I Report Bank Fraud?

Bank fraud reporting involves first contacting your financial institution with a number you retrieve from your card, your statements, or directly from the bank’s website. 

If there is damage to your credit reports, you can contact the three credit bureaus:

Experian
888 397-3742
https://www.experian.com

Equifax
888 548 7878
https://www.equifax.com/

TransUnion
800 916 8800
https://www.transunion.com/

How Do I Defend Myself Against Bank Fraud?

  • Regularly review your credit reports. Annualcreditreport.com is an excellent free source that is regulated by the federal government. 

  • Shop only at reputable websites. 

  • Check all of your accounts and look for unusual activity. 

  • Use OneRep’s free 5-day trial to delete your information from 100+ people-search engines that leave you open to scammers and hackers.

  • Make sure you have anti-virus software and operating systems installed on all of your devices.

  • Criminals may review your social media accounts to hunt for personal information. Remove anything private. 

  • Change your passwords, bank PINs, and security questions every couple of months. 

  • Do not carry your social security card in your wallet.

  • Never use unsecured Wi-Fi networks like at a coffee shop, as hackers can eavesdrop on them.

  • Use a shredder to destroy any documents before throwing them out.

FAQ About Bank Fraud

Is bank fraud a felony?

Some types of bank fraud are a felony; others are a misdemeanor. If cybercriminals are outside of the United States, capturing and charging them may present law enforcement challenges.

What is the bank fraud statute?

The bank fraud statute is 18 U.S. Code § 1344 and refers to punishment for bank fraud that could be as high as $1,000,000 and 30 years in prison or both. While the bank fraud penalty is high, many of the scammers are never caught.

Can a bank commit bank fraud?

Employees of a bank may commit fraud. Banks are regulated by various agencies, including the Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Complaints against a bank should be directed to those agencies

What is the US Bank Fraud Prevention Number?

The US Bank fraud prevention help is available 24/7 at 877-595-6256. 

What is the abuse Bankofamerica com contact?

You can contact Bank of America for suspicious activity at 800-732-9194 (credit cards) or 800-432-1000 (ATM or Debit).

Can you insure against bank fraud?

The FDIC insures consumer deposit accounts in the event a bank fails, but not against fraud. There are some consumer protections, particularly with credit card accounts. Some third parties offer identity protection insurance, but that is mostly limited to assistance with repairing the damage to your accounts. 

What do banks do to investigate fraud?

Banks have fraud departments that may take steps to identify and prosecute cybercrime. This may include working with law enforcement and prosecuting criminals if they are caught. 

Bank fraud is an intrusive and costly crime that can cause you significant immediate harm and long-term trouble. That’s why it is so important to know the signs of this crime to be empowered to avoid it. 

To protect yourself, please be sure to use the checklists we have provided, including taking advantage of OneRep’s free 5-day trial to remove your personal information from the internet. We suggest that you bookmark this page to check for updates and use if you or someone you know is the victim of bank fraud.

Mary Shishkova

OneRep privacy specialist