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Module 5: Banking Services

Avoiding scams and fraud

Even with the most up-to-date systems, errors can occur. In reviewing your accounts, you may find that someone entered a 6 when they meant a 9, or that a customer return didn’t get properly credited back. There may have been a small miscount in your cash at the end of the day. Or a bank fee may have increased, and you forgot to change your projections.

Reconciling all of your accounts at least monthly will ensure that these issues are identified and resolved in a timely manner. It is highly recommended that you monitor your accounts weekly or even daily if you have online access to your bank accounts. Given the level of fraud out there, these reviews will automatically catch any suspicious activity so that you can report it to the bank.

If you spot an error, work with your bank to resolve it. You can report these online, via a customer service phone call or in the bank. If you notice any abnormal transactions, such as mysterious withdrawals of cash or purchases of items that you did not authorize, change your passwords immediately and notify the bank of the activity on your account.

Common criminal activities

According to the FBI, internet crime schemes result in millions of dollars in losses to victims through various methods:

Business email compromise: A sophisticated scam that targets businesses working with foreign suppliers and companies that regularly perform wire transfer payments. The scam involves compromising legitimate business email accounts through social engineering or computer intrusion techniques to conduct unauthorized fund transfers.

Data breach: A leak or spill of data released from a secure location into an untrusted environment. Data breaches can occur at the personal and corporate levels and involve sensitive, protected, or confidential information that is copied, transmitted, viewed, stolen or used by an unauthorized person.

Denial of service: An interruption of an authorized user’s access to any system or network.

Email account compromise: A scam that targets the general public and professionals associated with a business, including financial and lending institutions, real estate companies, and law firms. Perpetrators use compromised email addresses to request payments to fraudulent entities.

Malware/scareware: Malicious software intended to damage or disable computers and computer systems. Perpetrators sometimes use scare tactics to solicit funds from victims.

Phishing/spoofing: Forged or fake electronic documents. Spoofing generally refers to disseminating email that has been altered to appear as though it were sent by someone other than the actual source. Phishing, also referred to as vishing, smishing, or pharming, is often done with a spoofed email. It is the act of sending an email that falsely claims to be from an established, legitimate business to deceive the unsuspecting recipient into divulging personal, sensitive information, such as passwords, credit card numbers and bank account information. These personal details are collected by directing people to visit a specified website solely set up to steal their information.

Ransomware: Is malware that targets human and technical weaknesses in organizations and individual networks that cut off access to critical data or systems. Ransomware is frequently delivered through phishing emails, resulting in the rapid encryption of sensitive files on a corporate network. When the victim organization determines it can no longer access its data, the cyber-perpetrator demands a ransom payment, typically in virtual currency such as Bitcoin, in exchange for regaining access to the data.

Other frequent instances of internet fraud, according to the FBI, include business, credit card, or internet auction fraud; investment schemes; Nigerian letter fraud; and non-delivery of merchandise.

You can find more on the most common complaints and scams, including information on internet crime schemes and prevention tips, in the annual reports of the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.