Recent Fraud Activity & Scams to Know About

Watch Out for Fraud Calls

Does this sound familiar? You receive a phone call, and the caller has asks you to immediately withdraw a large sum money from your bank account. To get you to act quickly, the caller may provide an explanation that seems legitimate or threaten you. This person may even coach you on how to answer questions the bank may ask when you go in to withdraw the money. 

Please know that we are here to help. If you find yourself in this situation, talk to one of our tellers or customer service team. 

Check Cashing Fraud

What it looks like: You receive a check in the mail you weren’t expecting. For example, you receive 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.

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.

Common Fraud Activity & Scams to Know About

Computer Cleaning/Pop-Up 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 gathering your personal information. Sometimes, the scammers require payment to "fix" the computer or use threats to get you to send them money.

How to protect yourself: Do not open or click on any computer pop-ups.

Debit Card Closed Phishing Call & Text Scam

What it looks like: You receive a phone call or text message from a scammer posing as a representative of Merchants Bank. The message from the scammer tells you that your debit card is locked and you'll need to call a number back and verify debit card, account or transaction information to unlock your card. The call or text may feel legitimate, but it’s not.

How to protect yourself: Be a skeptic. Remember that Merchants Bank will never ask you to provide your debit or credit card number and expiration date and CVV code to verify possible fraud on your card account. If you are asked to do this, it is a scam. Do not respond and call your local branch to check the current status of your debit card. We recommend deleting the text message and blocking the phone number the scam text/call came from if you know how to do so.

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).

Gift Card Scam

What it looks like: You are asked to buy gift cards on behalf of someone (a fraudster) who is sending you a check for the gift cards. You deposit the check, purchase the gift cards and then provide the gift card redemption codes to the fraudster. Only after you've provided the codes do you discover that you were sent a fraudulent check.

How to protect yourself: Be suspicious of anyone you know or don't know asking you to buy gift cards. Fraudsters can pose as your friends or family through email, phone calls or text messages.

Mobile Deposit Scam

What it looks like: You're sent a check from someone (a fraudster) and asked to deposit it using mobile deposit through your account. After you've given the fraudster the money from the deposit, you're notified that the check was fraudulent.

How to protect yourself: Being asked to use mobile deposit to deposit a check for someone else is a red flag. Just don't do it.

P2P Payment Scam

What it looks like: You're asked to pay for something through a P2P (person to person) app like Zelle® or Venmo, but you don't know the person that you're sending the money to. This commonly happens when buying items online through a social media site or places like Craigslist. The fraudster will tell you that he or she can only accept payment through this app. Once you've sent the payment, you never receive the item. 

How to protect yourself: Always know who is on the other end of a payment. If you don't know who you are sending money to, don't do it.

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.

Publisher's Clearing House/Prize Winnings Scam

What it looks like: You receive a phone call from someone representing Publisher’s Clearing House or another company saying that you’ve won the sweepstakes. They tell you that in order to claim your winnings you’ll need to send them thousands of dollars, perhaps cash, to pre-pay taxes and fees. Occasionally, you might receive a letter with a check to cover those fees. They ask you to cash and then send the money back to them. The check will not clear, and you will be on the hook for that money.

How to protect yourself: If you receive one of these phone calls, consider if you actually entered the sweepstakes. You cannot win if you did not enter. If you did enter, know that the real Publisher’s Clearing House would NOT ask you to pay any kind of money in order to receive your winnings.

Relative Scam

What it looks like: A fraudster will call you posing 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.

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 (link to personal access) to potentially catch fraud and turn off your card before more happens.

Next Steps if You’ve Experienced Fraud

If you notice fraud on a statement of your personal bank account, be sure to contact your local banker within 60 days from the date your statement was issued. In most cases, if the fraud is reported within 60 days, we have a better chance of resolving the issue. After 60 days from the statement’s issue date, there is nothing we can do to retrieve the lost funds.

Safeguard Your Money with Buyer Protection Programs

Reminder that Zelle and some other person-to-person transactions are not buyer protected. So, you should only use it when you are familiar with the seller. If you are buying goods and services online from places that you don’t have a relationship with or don’t know, make sure you use a service that has a buyer protection program. Sellers who use this digital payment service pay a fee in order to do business with consumers on there. This helps protect you from getting scammed or having fraudulent activity on your card. Before participating in any online transaction through any payment service, always check if they have these protections.

Be watchful, scammers will try to avoid these programs put in place to protect consumers. Do not do business with anyone you don't know who requests you to do any of the following:    

  • Use a digital payment service without a buyer protection program
  • Only pay with a specific card type
  • Choose "friends and family" so they aren't charged a fee

Online & Mobile Banking

Take advantage of our Online & Mobile Banking tools, giving you the freedom to do more with your money. 

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