Protecting Yourself Against Card Cracking Scams
In a recent scam targeting millennials, fraudsters are once again cashing in on people’s naivety and goodwill. Only this time, they’re using social media to make it happen.
What makes the scam especially cruel is that fraudsters specifically look for cash-strapped victims who are desperate enough to believe almost anything in the hope of earning a quick buck. This vulnerability, coupled with the broad reach of and easy plundering through social media, has made card cracking especially successful.
Card cracking scams start with an innocent-looking social media post. It will usually showcase some form of quick cash. It might be an easy-to-win contest with a huge cash prize, a dream job that will instantly be yours – as soon as you follow the instructions. If you click on the embedded link, you're typically asked for your checking account information, your PIN or your online banking credentials.
Once the scammers have this information, they can do any of a number of things, from withdrawing large sums of cash from your account to using your debit card number for a massive shopping spree.
In another variety of card cracking, scammers will claim their personal accounts are frozen and they have no access to money. They’ll ask the victim to deposit a check for them in exchange for cash. The victim will then deposit the check, the check bounces and so do the scammers. This variation is sometimes played out in person, particularly on college campuses.
In yet a third scheme, card crackers will promise victims a cut of fraudulent funds if the victim allows them to use their accounts. Of course, the victim will be held liable when the scammers are busted. Don’t be the next victim!
Here’s how to protect yourself from card cracking:
- Never share personal information with a stranger: Never share sensitive information with a correspondent whose identity you cannot verify with absolute certainty.
- When it’s too good to be true, it usually is: Free or easy money exists only in fairy tales. Don’t believe social media posts that sound too good to be true.
- Never cash a check for someone else: If someone asks you to cash a check for them, politely refuse. Unless you would trust this person with your life, there is no reason to believe their tale is legitimate or that their check will be honored.
- Report suspicious activity: If you notice any suspicious activity on your account, report it immediately. You may have fallen prey to a card cracking scam and you don’t even know it!
When you’re educated, alert and aware, you’ll spot most scams before it’s too late.