Account Opening Fraud: What You Need to Know

While it’s a scam that’s been on the market for a while, we’ve seen an increase in fraud cases similar to this, and want our members to stay aware. As usual, fraudsters are targeting both a younger and older demographic that they suspect will be more susceptible to the scam. We want to help our members stay aware of the red flags and educate you on ways to protect yourself from potential risks.

About the Scam

Scammers are offering people money in exchange for opening a bank or credit union account and then providing the account information back to the scammer. In some cases, the scammers are even paying for copies of social security cards so they can go one step further in impersonation.

What’s the Catch?

Scammers are promising their victims that since banks and credit unions are insured, nothing about the account will affect the person negatively. Wrong. If you open an account in your name and give the information to another person (whether accidently or purposefully) YOU are still liable for the fraudulent activity.

Remember: It is NEVER a good idea to share any private information related to your social security number or finances. If you feel uncomfortable in a situation where a person or business is asking for your private information, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Scammers can use many tactics to try and get your social security or bank information. Be aware of the following red flags that something is not right:

  • Making threats or promises – For example, in the scenario above the fraudsters promised that there would be no liability for the person opening the account. They may also make a threat, like saying you owe money for a debt and will be turned over to authorities if you don’t cooperate.
  • Offering you money – No legitimate business will EVER offer you money for a social security or bank account number. This includes the request to cash a check, keep part of the money and send the rest back to them.
  • Sounding like a credible source – Scammers will often imply that they are working with a person or business you are familiar with. If it sounds familiar, that’s the idea. But if it’s not a conversation or call that you initiated, be wary. Again, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
  • Asking for a favor – Even if the scammer doesn’t name-drop a business, they may try to sound like they share mutual friends or family with you. A request may be made to complete some type of transaction on behalf of your friend Susan or your Uncle Mike because they are in trouble or need help.

We do everything we can to protect our members’ private information and take that responsibility very seriously. We encourage you to protect yourself by using your best judgement in sharing private information with others. If you ever have questions about something sounding suspicious, give us a call. As your financial partner, we are always here to help.

You can read more details on how the scam is affecting another credit union here. You can learn more about this and other scams here.