The best way to avoid card-cracking schemes

David Pollino
Posted by David Pollino

Here’s a “business opportunity” every parent should know about as their sons and daughters get ready to go off to college or are entering the workforce after graduation:

Back/side view of young man as he inserts his debit card into an ATM machine.A social media post or website offers an easy income. All your son or daughter has to do is provide his or her bank account information, such as account number and debit card PIN or online log-in credentials. The information will be used to deposit multiple checks into the account, followed by quick withdrawals through money orders or wire transfers. The accountholder will then receive a portion of the proceeds.

What seems like an easy business venture is fraud. Those who lure accountholders into this arrangement are usually withdrawing the cash before the bank detects that the deposited checks are phony.

Victims may become accomplices

Last fall, 29 people in the Chicago area received indictments for alleged involvement in a multi-year, multi-million-dollar scheme that allegedly used Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter to market the illegal business and recruit victims, as reported by The Guardian.

The scam, called card cracking, works like other scams involving the unauthorized use of account data. Victims turn over their account information for one purpose, only to find out that scammers have used it for their own illicit purposes.

This type of scam frequently targets college students, who are susceptible to offers that look like easy help for paying the bills while away at school. Young adults looking for work or who have recently opened a first checking account are also common targets. In this type of scam account holders hand over their debit card number, PIN, or password and allow checks to be run through their account in exchange for a cut of the action.

What you can do

There’s a simple tip to avoid becoming a victim or unwitting accomplice, which should be common sense: No above-board contest, social media promotion, or job opportunity would ever require that people hand over bank cards, PINs, or online banking credentials.

You can find more useful protection tips and an infographic on card cracking from the American Bankers Association.


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