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 I bought A junk flooded car by Wonderland
We’ve written several posts about flood-damaged cars. If you suspect a dealer knowingly sold a storm-damaged car or a salvaged vehicle as a good-condition used car, contact your auto insurance company, local law enforcement agency, or the NICB at (800) TEL-NICB (835-6422). You’ll help someone else avoid a rip-off. For more information, please the FTC post, Shopping for a car? Be alert for flood damage.
In reply to I recently contact my credit by LJ Allen
If the company has a website, check to see if they have an email address or online form you can fill out to make contact.
In reply to I wrote about what to do by Chari
The same happened to me. Computer and tablet froze. And a sudden notice that I was hacked. A company Softwarient Solutions in Philadelphia called me saying they were security for Amazon. They wanted me to buy their security software and they would restore all. Well, they got $120 from me I was very lucky there was nothing important on the machines. How are they able to freeze a computer? was very young on Friday and $60 on Sun operating at least
In reply to My nane is Wilson Martinez. by Isabei1946
Please contact your bank, explain the situation, and ask them what they can do to help.
In reply to I am getting emails from by BevieO
The emails could be part of a phishing scam. Phishing scammers make it seem like you need to act quickly or something bad will happen. They might say your account will be frozen, you’ll fail to get a refund.
Don't click on links, or download programs sent by strangers. If you open a file from someone you don’t know, you could expose your system to a computer virus or spyware that captures your passwords or other information you type. You can delete the unwanted messages.
In reply to What if the crook ,IS THE by Cynthia
You could contact your state bank regulator or a federal banking regulator.
I am having a problem with the IRS. I keep getting notices that while the IRS is working on my account, the IRS needs an additional 60 days to send me a response on what action the IRS is taking on my account. I believe this is a scam so that the IRS steals my Federal Income Tax monies I am owed ($2,298.00). I only received $972.64. This is unacceptable! I have a HUGE PAPER TRAIL in regards to this matter. Thank you for listening.
In reply to my deceased wife got a credit by Rit Roy Sterns
The FTC has an article about the debts of deceased relatives.
Usually, family members don't have to use their own money to pay a deceased relative's debts. The FTC article says the estate of the deceased person owes the debt, and if there isn't enough money in the estate, the debt might not get paid.
A person might be responsible for the debt of a deceased relative if they co-signed on an obligation, or they live in a community property state, or for other reasons. If you aren't sure if you need to pay a debt, you could talk with a lawyer. Follow this link to find a list of legal aid lawyers. This list of state Bar Associations also has lists of lawyers.
In reply to In the last 2 months I have by JOSLATE
In reply to Has anyone had a unauthorized by Renee