In 2020 there was 4.8 million identity theft and fraud reports received by the FTC, up 45% in 2019. Given the pandemic, government assistance programs such as unemployment and stimulus checks were prime targets for fraudsters. Not to mention people got more desperate as time went on, leading to an increase in the number of people willing to commit fraud. Given these statistics, it is more than likely that you will experience bank account fraud or identity theft at some point. Here are some next steps that you can take to ensure your information is safe and secure.
1) Identify What Was Compromised
The first step after any sort of bank account fraud or identity theft is to determine what was compromised. For example, a common scam that I have scene are phishing text and emails. These often appear like your online banking credentials were compromised, but in reality nothing has been compromised if you haven’t given the fraudsters any information. If you are unsure whether or not you are being scammed, check out some of the most common money scams.
The safest thing you can do is to check all your accounts from a secure location. Whether this is online banking from a device you know is safe or going to the bank themselves, you want to check everything. Also, if you do find that an account was compromised check to see what information was used. The most common breaches are with online banking credentials or debit card information. Knowing what was compromised helps you figure out what you need to change.
If you can, it is also helpful to determine how that information was gathered. This can assist the fraud department of the bank and the police in finding the perpetrator. It also lets you figure out how you can safeguard against fraud and losses in the future. I’ve heard everything in my career from a neighbor stealing a checkbook to hackers taking over computer systems and demanding payment. If any of these fraudsters try to contact you directly, make sure you preserve those records for the authorities as well.
2) Contact the Fraud Department about Bank Fraud
The next step once you realize that bank fraud has taken place is to contact the appropriate fraud department. This is your first step to recover any losses that you have incurred due to transactions you did not authorize. Be prepared to provide any information that you have regarding the transactions. They will start the process to place any claims that they can.
Many banks have different policies regarding how long until you get your money back, but typically an investigation can take 45 days. The bank will have to contact the merchant to dispute the transaction and there are timelines in place for how long they have to get back to them. Most banks will provide a provisional credit in the mean time to help ease the pain in the meantime. Make sure that you respond promptly to any inquiries that the bank sends back to you. Below are the phone numbers for the fraud departments of the 15 largest banks in the US.
|Bank Name||Fraud Phone Number|
|Bank of America||800-432-1000|
|State Street Bank||217-223-6480|
|Fifth Third Bank||800-972-3030|
3) File a Police Report if Needed
Depending on the type of fraud that happened, you may need to file a police report. If you suspect that you are a victim of identity theft, check fraud, wire fraud or an account takeover, then it is better to file a police report. This will be an additional supporting document that you have to give to the bank’s fraud department. This will also assist the local police in bringing these scammers to justice. Make sure you have all the relevant details when you contact the police.
If you happen to know who the perpetrator could be, I would also bring that information to the police. This can help track down the parties responsible for any bank account fraud and make sure that they see justice. If we all work together than we can ensure that we combat fraud from every direction possible.
4) Check Your Credit Report for Fraud
One of the things I advise everyone to do after they have any form of bank account fraud is to run their credit report. You can check your credit report for free once per year per bureau at Annual Credit Report. The best reason to do this is to ensure that no accounts have been opened without your consent. Depending on the type of fraud you have experienced, bank account fraud or other, someone may have gained access to your social security number. If the fraudsters were able to gain this information than they can open new credit in your name.
When someone opens credit in your name without your consent you will want to dispute it with both the credit bureaus as well as the company. The burden on proof is on them to prove that they have your consent to open the account. You may also want to contact the credit bureaus to freeze your credit so that way no further fraud takes place. This ensures that everything is secure and you won’t experience any further headaches.
5) Secure Your Accounts Against Bank Account Fraud
Now that you have reported the fraud to the appropriate authorities, you will want to secure all your accounts. This can involve getting new cards, new account numbers as well as changing your online banking credentials. Everything that could have been jeopardized you will want to change. It can be frustrating at times, but it will be worth it in the end. We live in a world where everyone is experiencing fraud at various levels and it is important that we all take the steps to ensure we are properly protected when it happens to us.
The Five Steps You Should Take After Bank Account Fraud
- Identify what was compromised
- Contact the Fraud Department
- File a Police Report
- Check Your Credit Report
- Secure Your Accounts
If you experience bank account fraud you should follow these five steps to stop any nefarious individuals in their tracks. It can be time consuming and frustrating after experiencing a fraud event, but these steps will give you peace of mind afterwards. As technology advances and banks are becoming more vigilant around fraud, fraudsters are getting more advance in their techniques to get around safeguards. It is the responsibility of every individual to protect themselves against fraud.
Have you experienced fraud on any of your accounts? Let me know about your experience in the comments below!
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