Usually, when I pay with a check, I write it out and sign it, or I direct my bank to send it on my behalf. But what if a check is drawn on my account but I didn’t write it, sign it, or tell my bank to send it? It can happen if someone has your bank account number: they can use your number to create a check that takes money out of your account. Now, if you’d already agreed to the charges, there’s no problem. But what if you didn’t? That means this check is part of a scam – which is what the FTC says happened in a case announced today.
The FTC sued several companies and individuals for allegedly taking millions of dollars out of people’s accounts using remotely created checks – without the account owners’ authorization. The defendants had websites and made telemarketing calls that offered short-term loans and cash advances to people with bad credit. To get access to that money, people gave their bank account information. But the FTC says the defendants actually signed people up for online discount membership clubs – and charged for them. People had not agreed to that, and it only made their situations worse. When people complained to the company, the FTC says the defendants lied to confuse people into thinking they had, in fact, approved those charges.
Here are three things you can do to outsmart scammers.
- Stop before you put your account information in a website. Ask yourself: who, exactly, am I dealing with? Can I trust them? What will they do with my information? Dishonest people may use your bank or credit card information to take your money, or sell your information to others who’ll do the same.
- Review your bank account and credit card statements carefully. Check for charges you don’t recognize, remember agreeing to, or that you didn’t authorize – especially if you recently applied for a loan or credit.
- Tell your bank or credit card company immediately if you see a check or charge you don’t recognize. If the unauthorized charge is part of a scam, telling your bank and the FTC might help stop the scammers.
The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.
- We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
- We won’t post comments that include vulgar messages, personal attacks by name, or offensive terms that target specific people or groups.
- We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
- We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.
In reply to Re: Thank you (U.S.(FTC)). by James
In reply to HI, i keep getting calls from by bbarker17
You may need to talk with your credit card issuer about your account.
In reply to Re: Thank you (U.S.(FTC)). by James
In reply to I reported ADT alarm compaNY by Rlbeing
In reply to I had an experience with 3 by Rusty745
In reply to This has happen to with this by dsyk80634es
In reply to Thank you for this by Cherdi
In reply to Too bad the companies that by Dutchess
In reply to I am curious to know what is by ET
Due to a catastrophic divorce (at the age of 65, retired and on a fixed income with the inability to be hired for employment as soon as they calculate my age of 71) I fell into many scams. My bad credit ratings and am having financial difficulty. I bank at Randolph Brooks Federal Credit Union. Fraud has put a flag on my account and therefore I am unable to have the convenience and "on the spot" availability of knowing each day what my account is doing. I have many direct pay accounts. (yes I get a paper statement but by then it is too late) The reason Fraud has flagged my account is because a fraud check of $4,000 and some odd amount was sent to my account - I understood fraud to say they had all of my account information (which I have never provided to anyone). This bogus check was from Uganda (I believe). Many of the scams that occurred in 2010, 2011 came from those countries. I was expecting money from an acquaintance who was probably a scammer and not working where he told me he was working. HOWEVER, I had NO IDEA this was to happen. Fortunately the bank intercepted the check before it was deposited into my account. I am very grateful for that. Of course Fraud has all of this conversation on tape and they concluded I KNEW I WAS RECEIVING THIS BOGUS CHECK which is not true. The end result is I can no longer access my account on line. This is most distressing. How can you help me? I so need your help.....
In reply to Due to a catastrophic divorce by Knika1marble2
In reply to Also, if someone is trying to by Boss Cat
In reply to Some banks (mine is B of A, by RonP
In reply to Please investigate Address by Denyce in Ct
If you believe that you've been defrauded, please report it to the FTC at www.ftc.gov/complaint. Your report helps us stop fraud. Thank you.