How to Fight Senior Debit Scams and Check Fraud

How to Fight Senior Debit Scams & Check Fraud:
5 Scams That Target Your Bank Account

Older people may comprise only 14% of the population, but they account for a much higher percentage of the victims of consumer fraud. Telemarketing fraud alone is a $40 billion a year business, and 60% of all callers to the National Fraud Information Center describe themselves as senior citizens. Whether you’re a senior yourself or keeping an eye on a loved one, be aware of the potential frauds so you don’t fall for them and wipe out your cash reserves.

5 Scams That Target Your Bank Account

  1. Award Scams:
    You’ve won an incredible award! By simply providing all of your personal information, potentially including linking to your bank account, you’ll receive… absolutely nothing. Keep in mind that if you don’t remember entering a contest or applying for an award, you probably didn’t win it.
  2. Work-at-Home Job Scams:
    Working from home is a great way to bring in a little extra income in your senior years. Unfortunately, many of these so-called jobs require scammy high up-front investments and offer little or no return on the money you’ve put into it.
  3. Charity Fraud:
    It’s a great cause, right? If they’re calling you up and asking for donations over the phone, chances are, you aren’t dealing with a reputable charity. If you really love the idea of the charity, take the time to research one that will really use your money to help someone.
  4. Check Overpayment Fraud:
    A check comes in for you, and you’re supposed to cash it, then keep a percentage for yourself and send the rest on to another location. The only problem is, the check was never any good to begin with, and that means you’ll be left in the position of repaying your bank. Criminals may also attempt to syphon funds out of the seniors account by gaining access to a blank or canceled check—especially bank checks that don’t incorporate security features that help combat counterfeiting and alteration.
  5. Cashing a Check for a Stranger:
    A stranger or minor acquaintance has a check that they simply have to cash. For whatever reason (often a claim of an account in the negative or a lack of an account of their own), they’re unable to cash the check at their own bank. They ask you to co-sign on the check, and then when it bounces, you’re responsible for repaying the amount.

How to Avoid These Scams

While you can’t be sure that you’ll always be able to spot a scam, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself.

Don't Do Business Over the Phone
First, remember that most reputable businesses and organizations don’t do business over the phone. Decline to do business with callers you don’t know, and ask for written materials before you commit yourself to anything. Don’t ever give out information about your credit card or checking account to a caller you don’t know. Your social security number should always be confidential.

Research Before Sending Money
Next, before you send money to a company, check out the company with the Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau. These are great, reputable sources of information that will let you know whether or not you’re dealing with a legitimate offer. If you’re being pressured to make an immediate decision, walk away from the “deal” immediately.

Develop Savvy Check-Cashing Skills.
If you receive a non-cash payment, either take it to the bank where it was issued or ask your bank teller to verify its legitimacy before you proceed. Never cash a check for another individual, but especially not for someone you don’t know well. Always look checks over carefully before cashing them to ensure that there are no discrepancies that might make them invalid.

Protect your money instead of sending it to people you don’t trust. Always verify charities before donating to them. If you’re looking at a work-at-home opportunity, verify its authenticity before proceeding. Hint: a legitimate opportunity will not require you to send a portion to a third party via wire transfer.


Electronic Banking Fraud: Banks Are Fighting Back

The Federal Financial Institution’s Examination Council has instructed banks to adopt a layered approach to security, especially in the area of customer authentication. This is the process by which a website, mobile app, or other electronic banking service identifies the individual who wants to access it. Banks will, of course, have to rely on customer cooperation with the authentication process. What that means for you? You need strong passwords and virus-protection software that will help you make the most of your bank’s security.

Within individual banks, security is also increasing. Device fingerprinting, behavioral analytics, malware detection, and knowledge-based authentication are all becoming increasingly popular. Password tokens, out-of-band authentication, transaction signing, endpoint protection, and voice printing are all security measures that many people will appreciate.

The problem with fraud protection is the cost of those services. The Federal Reserve can include the cost of fraud prevention in its government-mandated caps on the interchange, or swipe fees that retailers pay when consumers use debit cards to purchase goods or services. If those swipe fees and other bank revenues aren’t adequate to offset the cost, it may be necessary for banks to change the services they offer consumers. Without the revenue to cover fraud, either it will increase, or banks will have to find another way to reduce their vulnerability.


Scammers will always be after creative ways to get into people’s bank accounts. Unfortunately, there’s no silver bullet that will prevent all fraud forever. No one is 100% secure. By keeping these tips and tricks in mind, however, you can keep your funds more secure and ensure that you’re less likely to become a victim of fraud.

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Thank You to Our Guest Blog Writer:

Noel Morgan
Content and Communication Specialist

BLOG Date: Tuesday, August 23, 2016