Imagine logging into your bank account and finding that your checking account has been emptied.
You have bills to pay and no money to pay them.
This is what recently happened to an inhabitant of Coeur d’Alene.
While researching his transactions, the resident discovered a fairly large check drawn on his account by an individual with an Indian name from Bank of Baroda in India. The “digital” check included the correct name of his bank, the bank’s routing number and checking account number as well as his forged signature.
The customer’s name had a slight misspelling and was printed in the upper left corner of the check, but the check number used was not in the customer’s current sequence. However, this quirk and the size of the check (over $ 5,000) were not sufficient to prevent the article from actually deleting the customer’s account.
According to the bank, crooks use random number generators to gain access to bank accounts. But not so fast. To complete this transaction, the scammer had to know a lot of information, including the name of the bank, the bank routing number, the customer’s account number, the customer’s name and possibly the balance to make sure the check. would delete the account. It is unlikely that a random number generator would have accurately understood all of these elements.
Instead, according to a local cybersecurity expert, this information was likely sold or illegally obtained by people on the dark web. How? ‘Or’ What? It is possible that the information was acquired through a company’s electronic monthly direct billing system (for example, a membership that a customer may have directly debited from their bank account such as the gym).
Other likely culprits include a compromised computer, doing business from a mobile app, or writing someone a check that includes all the information that is exposed to people with nefarious intentions.
Once the information is gathered, it is now available and can be sold over and over again.
If you find yourself in this situation, ask your bank to immediately close your account and issue you with a new account number. Check if legitimate outstanding checks can be cleared manually by your bank. If you bank online, change your password to prevent your new account number from being exposed to scammers.
The good news is that since it was a fraudulent check (not signed by the account holder), the bank returned the customer’s money to their account. The bad news is that, since this fraud was perpetrated in India, the likelihood of resolution is unlikely.
The schemes that are gaining traction with Interpol are those that involve international gang networks that specialize in these types of frauds and elevate them on a massive scale too large to ignore. Otherwise, this type of theft goes unpunished.
Bottom line: Be careful who you write checks to, as our checks can expose all parts of our bank account information to a scammer and could end up on the dark web. Plus, frequently check your accounts online for any fraudulent activity and report it to your bank immediately.
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Fraudulent Spectrum Texts
A Coeur d’Alene reader emailed us to let us know about a text message she received, allegedly from Spectrum. The message informed her that if she paid her Spectrum bill now, the company would offer her a 50% discount for the next six months.
It sounded like a lot, but this savvy reader did not respond to the text. Instead, she decided to find Spectrum’s customer service number and call her directly. She asked about the offer sent by text, but the Spectrum rep informed her that she had not heard of the discount.
Under the Federal Consumer Telephone Protection Act, businesses cannot send automated text messages to consumers without their written consent. If you’ve never opted out of receiving SMS marketing messages from Spectrum, odds are it’s a scam.
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Remember: I am on your side.
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If you’ve encountered a consumer issue that you have questions about or think our readers should be aware of, please email me at [email protected] or call me at 208-274-4458. As a customer of The CDA Press Consumer Gal, I’m here to help. I’m a copywriter working with marketing strategy companies, columnist, veterans advocate and consumer advocate living in Coeur d’Alene.