Fraudsters Out in Full Force This Summer
published on 07/15/2014
Fraud season is in full gear. Last month, we offered ways to protect you and your money while traveling. This month, let’s talk about fraud that may occur closer to home, at your local grocery store, the ball park, even at the pool – check fraud.
“Summer brings more opportunities for fraudsters to catch us with our guard down,” said RCB Bank Chief Physical Security Officer Christy Wild, who also investigates and processes all check fraud targeting bank customers.
During the dog days of summer when the weather heats up, family activities increase and summer vacation fills our head, there is a surge in all forms of fraud, according to Wild.
Fraud against bank deposit accounts cost the industry $1.77 billion in losses in 2012, according to American Bankers Association estimates. Checks remain the payment type most vulnerable to fraud attacks. Among organizations suffering financial loss due to payments fraud the typical loss was $23,000.
The most common way for check fraud to occur would be someone stealing your checks and forging your signature to buy merchandise, according to Wild. “For example, ball parks are an excellent place to find a lot of unattended vehicles to break into and steal purses, wallets and electronic equipment.”
Another way would be to get your account number and routing number by stealing your mail that has statements or a check payment for a bill you are sending out, Wild said.
“They then would produce a counterfeit check, which is very easy and cheap as you can buy check stock at most office supply stores or online, and all you need is a computer which most people have,” she said.
How can you protect yourself? The best advice Wild provides consumers is to not leave anything valuable in your unattended vehicle.
“If you have to leave your purse, wallet or any electronic devices in an unattended vehicle make sure they are unseen by placing them in a console, glove box or locking them in your trunk,” she said.
Other tips include:
- Try to keep all banking information out of the mail box unless absolutely necessary, and do not leave mail setting in your mail box for days at a time.
- Watch your statements or other bank records closely for any unauthorized transactions.
- Report any suspicious activity to your bank immediately; the faster they know the faster they can prevent a bigger loss.
- When out only take what is necessary, for example your keys, purse or wallet and your preferred method of payment be a check, cash or debit card; That way your loss is minimized to only one form of fraud.
- Never carry social security cards in your wallet or purse.
If you suspect check fraud, call your bank immediately to file a statement.
For questions about check fraud or other scams, call RCB Bank’s Fraud Department at 1-877-361-0814. They are happy to help.
For more savings tips and other financial articles, go to www.RCBbank.com/newsroom.