Knowledge Center

Safeguarding Against Financial Fraud

Safeguarding Against Financial Fraud

Here’s what you should know to protect yourself.

Fraudsters are becoming clever with their schemes to trick consumers into sending them money. Here’s how some of the more recent scams work—and what you can do to protect yourself against them.

Check Laundering

In this scheme, fraudsters obtain keys to the familiar blue drop boxes where you deposit your mail. There are even reports of thefts from personal mailboxes.

The fraudsters look for envelopes likely to contain a check (e.g., mail addressed to utility companies, credit card payment processors, etc.). The fraudsters then alter or wash the checks, in most cases changing the payee field to themselves but leaving the check number and dollar amount intact.

Prevention: Do not leave your outgoing mail, especially if it contains cash, check, and/or gift card, in your personal mailbox for post office pickup. Also, avoid the blue post office boxes. Instead, take your mail inside the post office. Further, consider paying your bills via electronic payments using bill payment services your financial institution provides, or pay directly through your biller.  When you reconcile your accounts, review the payee name on the image of each cleared check to ensure it matches the intended payee.

Counterfeit Checks

Realistic-looking checks and cashier’s checks are used in several schemes in which fraudsters try to trick you into depositing the check and then sending them funds before anyone realizes the check is fake.

The fraudster employs an arsenal of tools to trick you into sending the funds, including asking you to write a personal check on your own account, put the money on a gift card, send funds via person-to-person payment apps (e.g., Venmo, Cash App, etc.) and even authorizing a wire transfer or ACH transaction from your account.

For example, a scammer may lurk on a classified listing site, offering to buy an item you’ve posted. When you receive the check, you’ll notice it is for more than the sale amount. After you notify the “buyer” of the mistake, they will ask you to deposit the check but return the difference to them by sending your own check or a gift card. Their intention is to persuade you to deposit the fake check before it is noticed and then pocket the difference you send them.

Variations of this scam include online apartment rentals, materials needed for work-from-home “opportunities,” lotteries, refunds, etc.

Prevention: It’s difficult to spot a counterfeit check just by looking at it. However, if you are being pressured to return funds back to the sender, this is a red flag.  If the check you received is a cashier’s check, you can check with the financial institution that issued it to ensure it is legitimate.  However, if there is a phone number printed on the check, don’t use that number to call the bank.  Always verify the phone number of the financial institution before you contact them.

If you’ve been targeted in a counterfeit check scam, report it immediately to your financial institution as well as the financial institution whose name is on the check. If you received the check in the mail, report it also to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (www.uspis.gov). Report online fraud schemes to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov) as well as the website where you encountered the scammer.

Digital Payment App Scams and Fraudulent Messages

In addition to using checks or gift cards, fraudsters may also target digital person-to-person payment apps (e.g., Venmo, Cash App, etc.) to collect the money noted in the previous schemes.

Or, scammers will send texts or emails about transactions you can’t recall, even if the sender appears to be from a company you interact with regularly, such as your bank, internet provider or cable company. There’s a reason you don’t remember the transaction they’re referring to. It never occurred. When you click on the link or follow the instructions, you may unknowingly give the fraudster access to your accounts and/or personal information.

Prevention: Do not click on any links in unsolicited messages—and do not provide any financial account information or personal information. Independently contact the company the message claims to have come from and verify the situation.

Use payment apps to send money only to people you know and trust. Never share your login credentials for these apps.

Awareness and Proactive Prevention Are Key

Nothing stops fraudsters more than informed consumers who take proactive preventive measures. Vigilantly safeguard your financial transactions and personal information. Keep documents containing personal information secure, and shred sensitive documents before disposing of them.

Take advantage of security options available with Country Club Bank’s online and mobile banking.  Transaction Alerts allow you to set up a variety of notifications about activity on your account(s).  Card Controls is available with mobile banking or in the SecurLock mobile app.  Card Controls allow you to control how, when, and where you use your debit card. If you use this service, you can turn your card on and off, in addition to setting preferences for location controls (geographic areas), merchant types and dollar thresholds.

Finally, Country Club Bank will never ask you for sensitive information (PINs, account numbers, log-in credentials, birthdays, Social Security numbers, etc.) via email or text.

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