Helping you stay educated on scams and fraud trends is part of our job at Merchants Bank – we want your financial information to be safe. Review the information below on common scams and recent fraud alerts so you can do your part, in addition to what Merchants Bank does, to protect your account and personal information. As always, your local Merchants Bank branch is here to help if you have questions or come across something suspicious.

Click on a category to learn more about fraud alerts and common scams for:

Information for Individuals and Families


Common Fraud Activity & Scams to Know About

Check Cashing Fraud

What it looks like: You receive a check in the mail you weren’t expecting. For example, you receiving a winnings check in the mail from a drawing you did not enter.
How to protect yourself: When you receive a check, make sure to consider where it came from. If the situation doesn’t sound right, it’s time to do some more investigating before depositing that check.

Computer Cleaning Scam

What it looks like: You are on your computer when a message pops-up and warns you that your computer is compromised. If you don't act now, your computer will crash. Offering to help, a scammer dials into your computer to try to "fix" the issue, meanwhile gleaming your personal information. Sometimes, the scammers require a payment to "fix" the computer.
How to protect yourself: Do not open or click on any computer pop-ups.

Fraudulent Check/Craigslist Scam

What it looks like: You sell something online and the buyer (aka fraudster) sends you a check for more than the asking price of the item. The fraudster will ask you to deposit the check and then send the extra money back. For example, you sell a car on Craigslist for $1,000 and the purchaser sends you a check for $3,000, asking you to send them the remaining $2,000 cash back.
How to protect yourself: Be wary of payment checks for more than the asking price of the item you are selling. Should a check be deposited into your account and that check is found to be fraudulent, the amount of that check will be debited from your account, so you’ll be out the full amount of the check (both the amount of the item you were selling and the amount the buyer/fraudster asked you to send back to them).

Phishing Calls and Texts

What it looks like: You receive or phone call or text message asking you to verify account or transaction information. The call or text may feel legitimate, but it’s not.
How to protect yourself: Be a skeptic. Before you provide any information, look up the company or person contacting you via a third-party source such as a website or phone book. Call back using the phone number you found to verify the request was legitimate.

Relative Scam

What it looks like: A fraudster will call you posing to as a relative or friend of a relative asking for money because of an emergency (money for bail, medical bills, etc).
How to protect yourself: Verify the true location of your relative before responding – even if the person you’re talking to sounds like someone in your family.

Romance Scam

What it looks like: You meet someone online who you become romantically involved with. This person asks you for money so they can visit you in person.
How to protect yourself: Be diligent when using online dating and friendship sites to connect with others. It’s important to be cautious before providing personal information or sending money to someone you have met online.

Stolen Checks/Outgoing Mail

What it looks like: Fraudsters steal your outgoing checks and use them to make purchases.
How to protect yourself: If you have outgoing checks, bring them to the post office instead of leaving them in your mailbox - especially with your flag up…it tells fraudsters to look in your mailbox. Check your accounts daily for fraudulent transactions and alert the bank immediately if you see something suspicious. You can also use our fraud apps for your debit or credit cards to potentially catch fraud and turn off your card before more happens.
 
Reminder: Where is your payment information saved?
You may save your debit or credit card number as a payment method for things like free product trials or app/video game stores like Xbox, Apple or Google Play.
 
It's important to keep track of where you've saved your payment information as it may be charged again without your approval. For example, the free trial expires and you pay for a renewal period or your child decides to buy something for their gaming. It's a legitimate charge that cannot be refuted, even if you weren't aware of it.
 
If you want to review recent transactions related to your Apple or Google Play accounts, you can easily do so through your mobile device.
 
On your Apple device:
  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Select your name at the top of the screen.
  3. Select Media & Purchases.
  4. Select View Account.
  5. Enter your Apple ID password if necessary and then scroll to select Purchase History.
You can see all purchases completed through your specific Apple ID.  Keep in mind that purchases can only be completed on devices that are set up with your Apple ID. If you are questioning a transaction that does not appear in this list, your card may be connected to another Apple ID and possibly other devices.

To see which devices are connected to an Apple ID and therefore have access to the card on file, follow the first two steps above. Scroll down to see a list of all devices that are connected to your Apple ID. You can remove any unwanted devices by clicking on the name and selecting Remove from Account.

On your Android device (Google Play):
  1. Open the Google Play Store.
  2. Select the settings menu with your profile picture.
  3. Scroll down and select Payments & Subscriptions.
  4. Select Budget & History.
Budget & History lists all purchases you’ve made via Google Play, including books, movies, TV shows, songs, and albums as well as in-app purchases.

Additional Resources:


Information for Businesses and Other Organizations


Common Fraud Activity & Scams to Know About

ACH or Wire Fraud

What is looks like: You get an email to send an ACH or wire instructions that appears to be from a co-worker, however it’s really a fraudster who has hacked an email account.
How to protect your business: Have a system in place for requesting and confirming an ACH transaction or wire transfer. Ideally, this system would involve more than one person. You could also use a tool like ACH Blocks and Filters to block ACH transactions or set parameters to accept only certain ACH transactions.

Email Compromise

What it looks like: Similar to ACH or wire fraud, you get an email that appears to be from a co-worker or vendor requesting money be sent to a vendor or other contact. Or, the email could ask to update the direct deposit information for your co-worker’s payroll. However, the email is really from a fraudster who has hacked an email account and is looking to dupe you into sending them a payment instead.
How to protect your business: Before you respond to an email requesting a payment, take a moment to review if it’s legitimate: check the from email address for typos or other irregularities, consider if this co-worker is actually working or on vacation, read the email body and look for typos or phrases and wording that this co-worker wouldn’t normally use. In addition, you should have a system in place for requesting and confirming payments that involves more than one person.

Stolen Business Checks

What it looks like: Fraudsters steal your outgoing checks and use them to make purchases.
How to protect your business: If you have outgoing checks, bring them to the post office instead of leaving them in your business mailbox. Check your business accounts daily for fraudulent transactions and alert the bank immediately if you see something suspicious. You can also use a fraud transaction detection service, such as Positive Pay (link to Positive Pay page), to help prevent these checks, or other fraudulent checks, from hitting your account.

Additional Resources: